New Community Federal Credit Union has partnered with National Disability Institute to help individuals with disabilities obtain devices they need. Residents of New Jersey and New York can apply for an assistive technology loan and the credit union will issue the loan and collect and report payments.
Assistive technology refers to products or devices that can improve the life of an individual with a disability. Examples include hearing aids, scooters, wheelchairs, computer equipment and home and vehicle modifications.
New Community Federal Credit Union Director Mulu Gebreyesus is looking forward to people taking advantage of this program.
“It’s important to provide an affordable loan to the community that we serve,” she said. “A lot of people need hearing aids and wheelchairs and other devices which they can’t afford. This program will give them an opportunity to get the assistance they need.”
National Disability Institute (NDI) received funding for the program, which is one of 41 nationally, from the U.S. Department of Education. The loans range from $500 to $30,000.
“We’re really lucky that we were able to strike up this collaborative effort with New Community Federal Credit Union because in many states, programs were not able to find a lender to issue and service the loans. That’s important. It creates an opportunity for the person who may be a senior, someone with a disability or a veteran to initiate a relationship with a financial institution in their community,” said Laurie Schaller, manager of financial empowerment at NDI.
Gebreyesus and Schaller first started discussing the possibility of a partnership in December 2015 and NDI began accepting applications for assistive technology loans in March 2017.
Individuals don’t need to have an account with the credit union to apply for the assistive technology loans, however they must watch an orientation video that helps them prepare for the loan application process and create a spending plan. Loan applicants are also required to submit certain documentation, including recent bills and sources of income.
People who may be denied a loan at a bank or credit union could be approved through this program. Schaller said NDI makes sure the loans are affordable for applicants who complete a spending plan because for some assistive technology devices, vendors may charge higher interest rates.
NDI prequalifies applicants and sends the information to New Community Federal Credit Union, which issues and services the loans. The credit union makes the final decision about who is approved. Schaller said nationally, these programs have a 94 to 98 percent repayment rate and NDI guarantees the loans.
New Community Federal Credit Union and NDI have a strong partnership and have collaborated in the past on a project aimed at encouraging credit unions to hire individuals with disabilities.
NDI is currently accepting applications for assistive technology loans. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/NDI-AT-Loan or call 202-449-9521.