MANCHESTER, N.H. (3/27/08)--New Hampshire’s five-year Credit Union Community Outreach Initiative, designed to help underserved low- and moderate-income New Hampshire families, doubled the amount committed in its original lending goals. When the initiative was announced in October 2003, credit unions statewide--through the New Hampshire Credit Union League’s Community Outreach Committee--pledged to lend $35 million through programs designed to offer fair and reasonable loan alternatives, which centered on consumer education and affordable rates and fees. The program’s success resulted in New Hampshire credit unions lending $70 million--twice the amount committed--in four years rather than five. “When we first developed the Credit Union Community Outreach program in 2003, we held lengthy discussions concerning our ability to achieve a goal of this size,” said Peter Kavalauskas, president of Portsmouth, N.H.-based Northeast CU and chairman of the committee. “We went ahead anyway because we saw the need for consumer friendly financial products that focused squarely on the need of lower- and moderate-income people,” he continued. The committee credits the program’s success to ongoing brainstorming and product refinement. “We found that even the best ideas might not be applicable in every area of the state. Programs that were successful in helping people finance the purchase of multi-family, owner-occupied homes were effective in cities, but other solutions were needed in less densely populated areas of the state,” said Rob Kimmett, league senior vice president of public relations and marketing. The initiative had four main components. Home loans accounted for 85% of the total dollars. The two largest mortgage lending initiatives were the Homeownership Loan Program and the Home Loan Payment Relief (HLPR) Program. The Homeownership Loan Program concentrates on helping low-income individuals purchase a multi-family home after financial education efforts and classes in being a landlord. The loan offers attractive market rates and flexible qualification standards. Family emergency loans were another component of the program. These are small personal loans made to families or individuals for amounts up to $1,000 for 12 months or less. Ordinary credit standards are relaxed, because the borrowers using these loans would not typically qualify for a personal loan.