When it comes to helping the community, Rolling F Credit Union in Turlock is no rookie. This holiday season, however, the business made the new year even more exciting for two low-income families thanks to a partnership with the Stanislaus Housing Authority which enabled them to purchase their first homes.
Earlier this year, the SHA received grant funding from the City of Modesto to develop 31 new houses in Modesto — with the stipulation that the first two houses would be sold to families who earned 20% less than the average household income. Then, the other 29 homes would be able to be built and sold to families with average income. The first two homes needed to be sold and the families moved in by Dec. 31, 2020, or the SHA would have to return the grant money.
The two homes were completed months ago, but finding buyers who were able to qualify for a mortgage with low-income levels proved to be more difficult than anticipated. That’s when Rolling F Credit Union CEO Randy Icelow stepped in. The SHA connected with the City Ministry Network’s Community Development Corporation in early December, which suggested Icelow and his credit union in Turlock. When Icelow was presented with an opportunity to help, he jumped at the chance.
“They thought it would be easy, but no banks wanted to give a loan to someone who makes a low wage for a house this expensive,” Icelow said. “That’s what our credit union does — we help the minimum and low wage workers, who we call ‘valley growers.’ We help hardworking people...I said, ‘I would love to do this.’”
In order to provide a special mortgage product that could meet everyone’s needs, the team at Rolling F had to get creative. Rather than a 30-year mortgage, the families purchasing the homes received a 2.5% interest rate for 40 years so that their monthly payments would remain below $1,000.
The SHA was so grateful for Rolling F’s willingness to work with the low-income families that the organization guaranteed the loan, meaning that if the loan goes into default, the housing authority promises to pay the loan back — their way of saying, ‘thank you,’ Icelow said.
The partnership is just one example of local businesses and organizations coming together to help families achieve home ownership, Icelow said, and Rolling F plans on continuing the effort into the new year.
“It’s a pretty cool thing. I checked around the nation and there aren’t very many relationships like this between lenders and housing authorities,” he said. “Rolling F hasn’t done mortgages for years, not since the Great Recession...Part of our strategic plan for 2021 is to help more pathways to home ownership.”
The families received the keys to their new houses this week, and soon the other 29 community homes in Modesto will be constructed. To have played a part was rewarding, Icelow said, and he hopes to help similar projects eventually take place in Turlock.
“It warms my heart to be a part of this. It’s why I do what I do,” he said. “You want to be known for what you do, not what you say, so the fact that there’s a real-life story out there that can explain what the credit union is all about is 10 times more gratifying than just telling people.”