After a year of planning, the first credit union created for the LGBT community in Seattle has signed a letter of intent in hopes of opening by the end of this year.
Equality Washington will strive to “provide competitive financial products, personalized services, financial education, funding opportunities and progressive community outreach.”
According to their website, they are a “financial institution dedicated to the LGBTQ and our allied community,” who hopes the community “will benefit from a locally-based financial institution that directly supports our unique needs.”
They have partnered with an already established statewide credit union to help fund the company.
“Our vision is to start it in the fastest-growing city, this kind of hotbed of liberalism and progressiveness,” Equality President Phillip Endicott said. “Because if it can’t happen ehre, and it should, then it is going to struggle anywhere else.”
Both Endicott and vice president Andrew Tasakos say that while some organizations like churches have a financial institution with their needs in mind, the LGBT community doesn’t yet.
Endicott said that traditional banks market to the LGBT community, but just as any market segment, they don’t reach everyone, “like transgender people who are more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty.”
They said the credit union will do everything traditional financial institutions do, but will address and educate customers in unique situations.
“We are carrying baggage – whether people even in the community admit to it or not – that all tie back to financial implications,” Endicott said. “It’s absolutely critically important to our community, just like medication was during the AIDS epidemic, that we put a stake in the ground and say, ‘Financially, we are going to take care of ourselves. We are going to look out over those who are vulnerable.’”
Right now Equality Washington has three full-time workers and is talking about adding a Gay-TM – like a regular ATM, but with more flare.