By C.J. Salgado
What has been touted as “the very first credit union in East Los Angeles” will be no more come the end of October. The East L.A. branch of NuVision Federal Credit Union on Mednick Avenue will close as of Oct. 31, according to a letter sent to credit union members
Despite having 78,000 members and $1.2 billion in assets, that is not enough for the institution to keep the doors open to its branch in unincorporated East L.A. NuVision concluded that the branch, which opened 5-1/2 years ago, “is not performing at the expected level for a branch of its size and that has been open for this length of time.”
Although “not for profit,” profitability is still king when these decisions are made. In some cases, credit unions are able to seek a “low income designation” from its federal regulators that entitles it to certain benefits “designed to help the credit unions serve members recognized to have challenges accessing mainstream financial products and services.”
That sounds great, particularly in East L.A., where a quarter or more of household incomes meet poverty levels. However, such a special designation is not the case for this credit union (a majority of its membership would have to meet the applicable “low income” requirement). Yet, a lot could be said for a credit union making its services available to underserved communities like East L.A.
While it may have been a bold move for NuVision to open the branch in East L.A. a few years ago but soon, East L.A. locals will soon have to trot 1 1/2 miles east to the Monterey Park Branch on Atlantic Boulevard (only the ATM at the East L.A. location will remain in operation until next year). That branch itself suffered some bad news recently when a neighboring suite in the building the branch is situated in caught fire. Although it was able to remain open, residual smoke odors in that branch have raised some complaints by members.
Even as NuVision prepares to close its East L.A. outpost, the credit union is celebrating the opening of a new branch in Costa Mesa.