One clip of a ribbon ushered in a new era in Long Island City on Monday, April 26, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a host of dignitaries were there to take part.
After months of anticipation, the East River Development Alliance (ERDA), a non-profit organization established in 2004 to help public housing residents by expanding their economic opportunities, had finally opened its Federal Credit Union (FCU) – the first to be chartered in New York City in 10 years.
“The establishment of this financial cooperative,” said ERDA founder and president Bishop Mitchell Taylor, “makes resident empowerment and ownership real.” Taylor emphasized that his credit union “presents a model for every public housing neighborhood in New York City.”
According to ERDA, three out of 10 people in the Ravenswood, Queensbridge, Astoria and Woodside Houses – which will be served by the new credit union – currently lack bank accounts. The FCU will help change that, ERDA says, by providing public housing residents with a means to build capital, manage their money and achieve their financial goals. Proponents also believe the FCU’s presence will spark economic development in the area.
Addressing the crowd at the grand opening, Mayor Bloomberg said a major reason that close to 50,000 Queens households do not have bank accounts is because of a lack of access to credit unions. He said ERDA deserves “a lot of credit for identifying real community needs and then taking action to address them.”
One thousand community residents have already pledged to open accounts at the 13-03 B 40th Avenue FCU, and the organization has secured $1.1 million in non-member deposit pledges.
The credit union will initially provide savings accounts, club accounts, share certificates, various types of loans, NYCHA rent payment capture, check cashing, direct deposit and online access to member accounts. Beginning in its second year of operation, the FCU will offer ATM/Debit card services, wire transfers, checking accounts and other services.
For more information or to become a founding benefactor, visit erdalliance.org or call 718-784-0877.