Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP), in partnership with the Ohio University Credit Union (OUCU), is announcing a pilot MicroLoan program in Athens County. The program is able to provide loans up to $1,500 for a one-time expense and is available to residents of Athens County. Eligible expenses include but are not limited to: home or car repairs, unexpected medical expenses not covered by insurance, pest control, and the consolidation of payday or title loans.

According to a 2019 Federal Reserve survey, 40% of Americans do not have the funds to cover a $400 unexpected expense. In the wake of economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, episodic poverty has plagued American households through unemployment, increasing food costs, and lack of childcare.

“Athens County is the poorest county in Ohio, making residents vulnerable to predatory lending,” says Kelly Hatas, HAPCAP’s Executive Director. “Emergency expenses can often push people into poverty, so we are excited to launch this program in partnership with OUCU to provide access to affordable credit. The repayment terms will be customized to each individual borrower, but this program provides the opportunity for borrowers to establish or re-establish credit with positive payment history.”

HAPCAP successfully administered its first loan within the first month of the program’s launch. HAPCAP is also encouraging community partners and Athens County’s financial operations to direct potential clients to the MicroLoan program.

Applicants must have 30 days of stable income with the ability to repay the loan. Successful borrowers will become members of OUCU, receive a free credit report review, and participate in financial empowerment training. The loan has no fees and a low, fixed interest rate. The program is intended for unexpected emergency expenses only. Expenses not eligible for this program include monthly expenses such as rent, mortgage, or utility bills.

To apply, please contact Amanda Sawvel, HAPCAP’s Community Resource Navigator at (740) 767-4500 or by email at amanda.sawvel@hapcap.org. OUCU received funding for program outreach through a grant from the Ohio Credit Union Foundation. For more information on eligibility and required documentation, please visit hapcap.org/microloan.

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