NEW YORK (11/21/08)--Credit unions have been out in front of the curve, being aggressive in helping troubled homeowners for the past several months, while the bigger lenders have just increased their efforts in recent weeks, according to a Thursday Dow Jones article. Since last winter, credit unions have been changing their terms on home loans in states that have been most impacted by the mortgage crisis, the Dow Jones said. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) this week proposed making more cash available to homeowners in need, the article reported. NCUA’s proposal would benefit everyone, Bucky Sebastian, president, GTE FCU, Tampa, Fla., told the news service. Although not a complete solution, the proposal would result in people staying in their homes, and credit unions not having to repossess them, he added. Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo., is helping members who have committed to staying in their homes by modifying their loans--usually for two years, Casey Perkins, Ent director of collections, told Dow Jones. The credit union keeps track of the loans and plans to re-evaluate them after two years, Perkins added. Ent has restructured about 150 home loans with $14.6 million in mortgages, he said. Credit unions have the cash necessary to modify home loans, because they have made very few subprime loans to risky borrowers, Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Association, told Dow Jones. Credit unions also are motivated to help because they are being impacted by some of the “collateral damage” caused by declining home prices, and by members losing jobs or falling behind on their loan payments provided by other lenders, Hampel added. “It helps the borrower, but the losses of foreclosing on a mortgage are big, and it’s in the interest of the credit union to help,” Hampel said.