Residents in southeast Fresno, an area of the city largely ignored by traditional banks and credit unions, is home to a new branch of Self-Help Federal Credit Union in a partnership with the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission.
The office opened in mid-September and marked its formal grand opening Thursday. The branch in the Peach Tree Plaza shopping center, at Kings Canyon Road and Peach Avenue across the street from Sunnyside High School, provides a range of consumer banking and lending services that credit union representatives say have been sorely lacking in the area. “While over 80 banks and credit unions have Fresno offices, only four are located in southeast Fresno,” the organization said in a written statement last week in advance of its grand opening. “By contrast, most of Fresno’s payday lenders are located in the southern half of the city.”
Among the people attending Thursday’s ribbon-cutting were United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta; Vicente Sanchez, the Mexican government’s consul general in Fresno; representatives of area legislators; Self-Help founder and CEO Martin Eakes; Steve Zuckerman, president of Self-Help Federal Credit Union; and leaders from the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission.
The credit union states that its goal is to “ensure that low income families, people of color and other underserved groups have a fair and affordable alternative to meet their banking needs.”
Self-Help Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, has 20 branches in cities across California, in addition to locations in Illinois and North Carolina. The Fresno office is its second in the central San Joaquin Valley, joining a branch in Porterville. The credit union, chartered in 2008, is part of the Center for Community Self-Help and provides services including auto, mortgage, business and personal loans as well as online and mobile banking.
According to the National Credit Union Administration, the credit union reported total assets of nearly $606 million and total loans outstanding of more than $440 million as of Sept. 30. Its 2015 net income through the first three quarters of the year was $6.48 million.