Opportunities Credit Union (OPPSCU) is Vermont's only Community Development Credit Union. Formerly known as Vermont Development Credit Union, OPPSCU is nonprofit, member-owned and federally-insured. OPPSCU's mode of action is encouraging community-driven development through home ownership, small business development, reliable transportation, financial stability, and economic literacy. OPPSCU is determined to help communities in Vermont by creating an affordable financial system.
Opportunities Credit Union provides an array of services aside from standard financial services, including:
- Savings: Provides savings accounts, money market accounts, share certificates of deposit, IRAs, and special social investment accounts for investors. This includes no minimum balance fees and the ability to earn interest on savings accounts.
- Lending: OPPSCU's strength is in the variety of loans that are offered. OPPSCU makes affordable mortgage loans, manufactured housing loans, home improvement loans, closer loans, small and microbusiness loans, auto loans, personal loans, education and training loans , assistive technology loans, computer loans, furniture loans, and tracker loans. Loans range from $50 to $250,000. All lending is counseling-based and members also receive information, education, and advocacy services.
- Affordable Mortgage Loans: This loan area is one of the best-established in the organization. OPPSCU offers various programs that offer affordable interest rates, consultation for individuals with local nonprofits, reduced down payment options and improved approval guidelines for those with less-than-perfect credit.
- Tracker Loans: This is another notable loan offered by OPPSCU. Through counseling-based lending, the client is able to create an improved credit track record while still building their savings.
OPPSCU services over 14,000 Vermonters in 210 towns. OPPSCU's clientele consists of low-income individuals and communities seeking financial assistance and counseling. Many local nonprofits are also members of OPPSCU. Of those served by OPPSCU, 49% are men and 51% are women. The majority are Caucasian however approximately 13% make up African Americans, Asian Americans and Bosnians. Members live in urban and rural areas and include working families, immigrants, minorities, single parents, microentrepreneurs, and service workers. Most have limited financial assets and past credit problems, making them unbankable in the eyes of traditional banks.
OppsCU's particular expertise is in serving people of low wealth who do not meet the cookie-cutter criteria of mainstream institutions. With support from OppsCU, these members become bankable and achieve their life goals, including paying off debt, getting better jobs, owning homes, and operating small businesses. In total, OppsCU has made over 15,000 loans totaling $160 million to its target low-wealth population.
Six years ago, Winston was invited to buy the trailer he now lives in. He was nervous about the purchase. He had no credit history, and a limited income. But Vermont Development Credit Union showed him he had an important asset. "I had always paid my rent on time," Winston says, "and always left a place cleaner than when I moved in. They took my landlords' references for five years back. That's all they needed to make me a loan." Full Story