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The Power of Credit Unions in Austin

Today is October 15, which happens to be International Credit Union Day, and Monica is here to talk about how some of our local credit unions are collaborating on a community service project to celebrate the occasion. Today we welcome UFCU Manager of Social Impact & Community Affairs, Monica Maldonado Williams.

UFCU is leading a Habitat for Humanity home build that’s going on right now, but it’s not your typical Habitat build, what can you tell us about that?

Right here in Central Texas is the first time anywhere in the country that a group of local credit unions have joined forces to build a Habitat home together.

We call it “The House That Credit Unions Built.” Usually, Habitat for Humanity seeks out companies to help build a home, but in this case, it was UFCU that brought the idea to Habitat for Humanity.

They were surprised, to say the least. UFCU originally approached Habitat for Humanity with the idea, but this home build is a collaboration of seven different local credit unions, of which UFCU is only one. We’re working side-by-side with our credit union colleagues on this home build and all of us our bringing our hearts and hands to this build.

That’s just the credit union way. One of our guiding principles is to be socially responsible to the communities we serve.

There are all kinds of ways a company can be socially responsible. What was it that inspired UFCU to approach Habitat for Humanity in particular?

The idea really came out of UFCU’s social purpose. It’s our core belief that the financial health of our community depends on three things — education, employment, and housing. At UFCU we work hard to make a difference in those three impact areas, because if we all come together to get those right for everyone, we’ll all benefit from living in a more prosperous community.

And it’s just in our DNA at UFCU to help as many people as possible realize the dream of home ownership — but doing it in a way that meets people where they are.

Talk more about that, what do you mean by meeting people where they are when it comes to owning a home?

A lot of people turn to UFCU for mortgage loans, and it’s our responsibility to make sure people get into the right home with the right loan. That means before we’ll make a home loan, we work with our Members one-on-one to understand where they are in terms of savings and credit, and to ensure they’re buying the right home for a budget they can really afford every month.

For most people, buying a home is the single largest purchase they make in their lifetime and when someone is ready to buy a home, we want to make sure it’s one they love, but it’s also important to help them understand every detail before they commit.

We even offer free classes on home financing — which are available to everyone, you don’t have to be a UFCU Member to attend — and we have a ton of home finance resources on our website that anyone can access.

What has it been like to volunteer to build a home during a pandemic?

I have to give all the credit to our great employees at UFCU. They’re so deeply committed to our social purpose of creating a financially healthy community, and the important role of stable housing as part of that.

That’s why even during a pandemic they’re taking a day off to help with hands-on construction of this Habitat home — and they’re long days! And then back at work, they’re helping people with mortgage loans by delivering incredible, personal service and fair rates.

I also have to give credit to the six other credit unions we’re collaborating with. And especially to Habitat for Humanity here in Austin. They’re total pros and they’ve organized every aspect of this build so we can work socially distanced, and with proper health and safety precautions.

In fact, we’re only able to have 10 people on-site working on the home at any one time. Ten total. We had so many of UFCU employees wanting to help we had to ask Habitat for more build days so everyone could be a part of the House That Credit Unions Built.

Again, we’re thrilled to have UFCU representative Monica speak to UFCU’s commitment to education, employment, and housing, and especially this special Habitat for Humanity home build.