Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Crain's: A much-needed dose of good financial news for the South Side

Some new developments out of what's left of the former Seaway National Bank of Chicago - now owned by Self-Help FCU:
Self-Help Federal Credit Union of Durham, N.C., which acquired the Seaway franchise after its failure, recently named a veteran South Side banker to run it and now has obtained $15 million in low-cost funding to put the bank back on offense at a time when the neighborhoods it serves desperately need capital. That $15 million, a low-interest loan from Chicago's MacArthur Foundation, is a key to restoring Seaway to its historic size in terms of assets, according to Randy Chambers, Self-Help's chief financial officer.

Don't doubt the impact of that investment. Five years ago, MacArthur poured $15 million into Self-Help when it took over Second Federal, a failed Hispanic-focused thrift on the Southwest Side. Since then, that arm of Self-Help has made about 1,000 new home loans to families in Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards and other Southwest Side and near suburban communities, and virtually all of the borrowers are first-time homebuyers, Chambers says. In the past 15 months, Self-Help has begun making small-business and church loans in Chicago as well, totaling more than $5 million.

The idea: Neighborhoods troubled by crime and blight improve when more families own their homes there, giving them a stake in the future of the area. That prompts potentially more cooperation with police when crime occurs and better property maintenance, and helps support neighborhood businesses that provide jobs for neighborhood residents. "Homeownership in working communities is the backbone of these communities," Chambers says.

Seaway has shrunk to about $150 million in assets since the failure, Chambers says. The goal is to nearly double in size over time. If that occurs, Self-Help's scale on just the South and Southwest sides will be close to $500 million, a difference-maker.
This article was written by Crain's Steve Daniels who had written a lot about what was going on with Seaway even before last year's shocking FDIC takeover and sale.

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