For SCCCU Members, Affordable Financial Services Isn’t Just A Dream, It’s A Reality


Sarah Eblen has worked hard all her life, starting her first job in high school. She has always believed in saving money and working for the things you get – nothing is free. Her proactive approach to money management has allowed her to maintain good credit and positively save for her future.

Unfortunately, after arriving in Santa Cruz in 1985, she could not afford a home in such a tight and expensive housing market, so she had to rent out her home. But in April 2020, she decided it was time to own her first home.

Although Sarah was a successful independent sales representative, she was not a “perfect borrower” on paper. However, she had a good down payment, excellent credit and a long work history. “I was turned down by other financial institutions because I couldn’t provide a pay stub from a company, which I simply can’t provide as I’m self-employed,” Sarah explained.

New year, new house and a financial dream come true

Sarah Eblen, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union client

(Santa Cruz Community Credit Union)

In early 2021, things changed for Sarah. After a brief discussion with one of the board members of the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (SCCCU), she contacted Brenda Merrell, loan consultant at SCCCU. As a result, Sarah was the proud owner of a new mobile home in Aptos within months.

“I felt like Brenda was part of my team from our first conversation. I felt supported and encouraged by her,” exclaimed Sarah.

“It’s these experiences that make our jobs so interesting. It’s so fulfilling to see someone achieve a lifelong dream. We fill a niche in that community, which is to provide financial support to people who get turned down from other places, and we’re really good at it.

— Richard Cooper, Executive Vice President and Chief Loan Officer at SCCCU

Providing affordable housing for members is essential to the mission of the SCCCU

Sarah is just one of hundreds of members the Caisse Populaire has helped over the past year, especially with the impact of COVID-19. SCCCU’s mission is to provide economic justice for all, which means thinking outside the box and reaching those whom others may not be helping.

“We consider the whole person when we loan them, not just how they look on paper,” Cooper said. “We have programs available to help people get back on track as well as loans for those with great credit. We really want to help.

Cooper further explained that the Credit Union has one of the only mobile home credit programs in the community and works closely with real estate agents to help people find the home they need at an affordable price.


Elizabeth McGinnis, Habitat for Humanity volunteer.

(Santa Cruz Community Credit Union)

The SCCCU recently committed over $1 million to a local Habitat for Humanity project, which will build homes in one of our Santa Cruz neighborhoods. In addition, the project includes the creation of a community garden and a playground.

“It’s an honor to be part of this project that helps people achieve their dream of home ownership,” Cooper said. “It’s projects like this that help make our community even better.

Why providing affordable financial services is important to SCCCU

The Caisse Populaire is unique in its ability to be nimble and resolve issues as they arise.

“We are a small financial institution compared to others in our community, but this allows us to get to the heart of what matters most to our members. Like Sarah, many people in our county need help reaching their financial goals, and we’re happy to help.

— Katie Fairbairn, Vice President of Communications and Organizational Development at SCCCU

For years, the Credit Union has joined industry efforts to combat predatory lending. And now, with its LIFT loan program, SCCCU is poised to counter payday loans and help members bridge any financial gaps they may have at times.

“It’s a bit like ITIN loans. We have been doing this for years and were the only financial institution to offer this service in the county until last year,” Fairbairn said. “We are delighted that some of the other financial institutions in our region are doing the same, as the overall goal is to help everyone access affordable financial services.”

“We know, especially during the holidays, that people need help. And not everyone who goes to a payday lender has bad credit. Some go there because they just don’t think they have any other options, or maybe they’ve been turned down in the past. And we’re here to say you have other options.

— Katie Fairbairn, Vice President of Communications and Organizational Development at SCCCU

The SCCCU Watsonville Branch Team

The SCCCU Watsonville Branch Team

(Santa Cruz Community Credit Union)

return the favor

In addition to its annual RETURN THE FAVOR campaign (which raised over $157,000 this year), SCCCU regularly helps local nonprofits secure grants to help implement programs to help the most vulnerable people in our community.

“We are delighted to announce that the three nonprofits we sponsored for FHLB grants were approved last week,” Fairbairn said. “It’s such a privilege to be able to help our local nonprofits get the funds they need to serve so many people who need help, especially during the holidays.”

More Services to Help the Unbanked and Underserved in Santa Cruz County

With a mission to provide economic justice for all, SCCCU is committed to reaching out to those who have been neglected for years.

“We believe everyone should have access to affordable financial services,” said Beth Carr, President and CEO of SCCCU. “And we really put our money where our mouth is.”

The credit union offers a variety of products and services to help people get back on track or build credit, from second-chance checking, to savings-backed loans, to loans DACA and free financial advice.


(Santa Cruz Community Credit Union)

What does the future hold?

Imagine what it would be like if everyone, like Sarah, had access to the financial services they need to live comfortably?

“When we reduce the percentage of unbanked and underserved people in our community, we improve the financial well-being of every household and build a more robust economy for all to enjoy. We believe that economic justice for all is worth it. sadness.

— Beth Carr, President and CEO of SCCCU


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