Giving abuse survivors a helping hand - Albuquerque Journal

Giving abuse survivors a helping hand

Jt090420b
Pamelya Herndon, board member for U.S. Eagle and one of the people to spearhead the CU Safe program designed to help survivors of domestic violence in Albuquerque. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A trio of credit unions has launched a unique program in New Mexico designed to help survivors of domestic violence find their financial footing when leaving their abusers.

CU SAFE, a partnership among U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union, Rio Grande Credit Union and Coast360 Federal Credit Union in Guam, began operating in New Mexico at the end of August.

The program is designed to pair survivors who are referred from the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Albuquerque with one of the credit unions. The credit unions provide financial literacy assistance as well as specialized loans tailored to help people without a stable job or credit get on their feet.

“They’re getting the financial resources to get out of their situation,” said Walt Agius, CEO of CU SAFE.

Agius and others credited Pamelya Herndon, a board member at U.S. Eagle, with coming up with the idea. Herndon told the Journal that she’s seen a tremendous need for a service like this in New Mexico, which routinely ranks among the worst states in the country for reported domestic violence incidents.

Agius added that abusers frequently cut off their victims from accessing financial resources, meaning that people who flee their abusers often lack the ability to get a stable job or build credit. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says financial restrictions are one reason some survivors stay with their abusers.

“In a lot of cases, all their financial support is gone,” Agius said.

The CU SAFE program is designed to give people resources to transition toward being financially independent.

“We believe that if we can help people stabilize and build good financial habits over the next 12 months, that a lot of those people will be able to take that and run with it,” Agius said.

Marsha Majors, president and CEO of U.S. Eagle, said survivors are referred to a credit union through the DVRC, and assigned a specialist who can help with financial literacy assistance and a loan, depending on their situation. Majors said participants aren’t vetted the same way as most applicants would be.

Mike Athens, CEO of Rio Grande Credit Union, said the loans will be unsecured and will be structured so that recipients pay interest only on the portion of the loan they’ve drawn from for the first year.

“We know those payments would be too heavy just getting back on their feet,” Athens said.

Athens said the interest rate is lower than they’d pay at a typical bank.

Agius said he hopes the program will have 10 to 20 participants by the end of the year and eventually spread across New Mexico and the rest of the country.

Herndon said credit unions, due to their cooperative structure, have historically been a useful tool for addressing systemic inequality. She said she hopes this partnership can help remove some of the barriers that survivors of domestic abuse face.

“The credit union has absolutely been the place to lift up these communities,” Herndon said.

Home » From the newspaper » Giving abuse survivors a helping hand


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
APD arrests suspect in killing outside Calvary Church
ABQnews Seeker
Victim a security guard and former ... Victim a security guard and former Bernalillo County Fire Rescue commander
2
Rain or shine, students fight for normalcy
ABQnews Seeker
Homecoming returns after years of pandemic ... Homecoming returns after years of pandemic impacts
3
NM to be part of 'clean freight corridor'
ABQnews Seeker
Hydrogen network could power trucks throughout ... Hydrogen network could power trucks throughout Southwest
4
Judge was a 'very generous and caring person'
ABQnews Seeker
Friends and colleagues describe Judge James ... Friends and colleagues describe Judge James A. Parker as a gentleman
5
Stewart moves to oust Ivey-Soto from committee post
ABQnews Seeker
Sexual harassment allegations against him behind ... Sexual harassment allegations against him behind the action
6
Climate-fueled wildfires worsen dangers for struggling fish
ABQnews Seeker
A summer-long mission comes to a ... A summer-long mission comes to a quick end as cutthroat trout rescued earlier this year are released into new digs
7
LSU utterly dominates New Mexico in 38-0 win
College
Offense manages 2 first downs, a ... Offense manages 2 first downs, a record low
8
ALT brings one-woman play 'The Belle of Amherst' back ...
Arts
The Albuquerque Little Theatre production 'The ... The Albuquerque Little Theatre production 'The Belle of Amherst' kicks off its two week run beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.
9
NMPhil announces rock and pop series
Arts
Rock and pop music fans can ... Rock and pop music fans can hear the music of the movies, flamenco fusion and a symphonic version of Genesis when the New Mexico ...
10
One-woman play 'Katie's Tales' debuts at Fusion's Cell Theatre
Arts
Fresh off a run at the ... Fresh off a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Agnieszka Kazimierska's one-woman play debuts at Fusion's Cell Theatre on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.