Credit unions in the community
Community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, are aimed at low- to moderate-income people.
Many of these credit unions are interested in economic justice, says Pamela Owens, vice president of programs for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. Their designation allows them to apply for special government grants to open multiple branches in hard-hit communities, she says. They can offer affordable mortgages or special, matching savings accounts.
For example, at Alternatives Federal Credit Union in Ithaca, N.Y., a member can get free tax preparation and a seven-week financial education course. The credit union has offered savings accounts that members can open with a $5 minimum deposit. The individual development accounts also match your savings deposits when you're working toward a long-term goal, such as owning a home or opening a business.
The Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union in New York also offers free tax preparation, financial counseling and has offered a savings account that could be opened with just $30.
"These credit unions are more apt to work with people, such as helping you with credit repair so you can raise your score," Owens says.