Credit Unions, Community Development Finance, and The Great Recession


Clifford Rosenthal, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions

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February 1, 2012

Community development credit unions (CDCUs) have a long history of serving low-income and minority markets. They played an important role in the founding and leadership of the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Coalition, which successfully advocated for the establishment of the CDFI Fund and has monitored and supported the CDFI Fund throughout its history. Yet, the role of credit unions in the CDFI movement is often overlooked. The term, “CDFI” is frequently understood by researchers and policymakers to mean CDFI loan funds, the unregulated institutions that dominate the ranks of institutions certified by the CDFI Fund. This working paper explains the critical role that CDCUs play in community development and examines their financial performance through the Great Recession.