Sharing the feeling of home.

Your home feels warm. Safe. And loving. But too many people in Michigan won’t get to experience this feeling tonight because they struggle with homelessness. As many pandemic-era programs aimed at combating homelessness end and the real estate prices rise, the issue of homelessness in Michigan is becoming a more prevalent problem in every community.

To help more people in our state experience the power of home, we continued our home loan giveback program in 2022. For every mortgage or refinance that our members closed with us and our partners at Mortgage Center, $100 was funded toward the giveback program. From July 12 thru September 30, home equity loans were also included in this program with a $50 donation given for each home equity that our members closed.

In total, our members made it possible to donate $54,390 just for choosing us for their home loan needs. We distributed funds to two housing nonprofits: Advent House Ministries in Lansing and Isabella County Restoration House in Mt. Pleasant.

Advent House Ministries has a street outreach program where team members connect homeless individuals living on the streets to resources and programs that offer support. Between July 2021 and September 2022, the team saw a 500% increase in the number of homeless individuals they encountered.1

Likewise, after seeing an increased need for housing services, Isabella County Restoration House is moving forward with plans to build a permanent shelter. Their current space can only house 20 people, but they have a waiting list with twice that many people on it. Funds from our home loan giveback program will support housing and shelter programs at both organizations.

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The Lake Trust Latest

Since launching our home loan giveback program in 2019, Lake Trust members have made it possible to donate $225,440 to Michigan housing nonprofits.

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People helping people video

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The Lake Trust Latest

Since launching our home loan giveback program in 2019, Lake Trust members have made it possible to donate $225,440 to Michigan housing nonprofits.

Together, Lake Trust and the Lake Trust Foundation contributed $417,662 to Michigan communities in the form of sponsorships, grants, contributions, and scholarships in 2021.

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CU Insight2

Enhancing the member experience.

Channeling feedback from members, a new 24/7 phone banking experience with enhanced self-service options was introduced in November 2022. Through a partnership with POSH 360, we designed a new system that allows callers to simply speak and say what they’d like to do instead of listening to a list of menu options. Callers can also ask a question about Lake Trust products, services, locations, and hours to get a quick response.

On the first day of launching the new system, 50 percent of all incoming calls were resolved through the self-service options. And the wait time to speak to a Member Experience Associate was only five seconds. Today, the top five transactions conducted through our new system are balance inquiries, recent transactions, new loans, additional accounts, and speaking to an agent. On average, 43 percent of all calls are now handled through our self-service options.

Not only does the self-service experience empower members to manage their accounts, but this new technology also makes the wait time shorter for members who need help. And Member Experience Associates can now dedicate more time to focusing on member wellbeing conversations and help answer financial questions, concerns, or needs.

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Saving money, giving back.

Borrowers with student loans through private lenders were excluded from the government’s pause on student loan payments, as this pause only applied to federal loans. As inflationary costs impacted household budgets in 2022, many private student loan borrowers began searching for options to help them reduce their payments. In addition, the pause on federal student loan payments was scheduled to end in 2022 and federal student loan borrowers were scrambling to figure out how to make payments again. Though the pause was extended once again, many people realized that they needed to create a plan to fit their loan payments into their budgets again.

To help our members with student loans, we offered no payments and no interest for three months on student loans that members refinanced through us and our partners at CU Student Choice. This was a welcome relief for members who were concerned and who were looking for new options to manage their payments.

In addition to a pause on payments for three months, we also offered cash back to our members after they closed their refinance. We hoped that this extra cash incentive would help members as they adjusted their budgets.

To help other students experience the power of an education, we added a giveback element to our student loan refinance program. A donation was given to the Lake Trust Foundation for each loan our members closed. These funds will help provide scholarships for other students.

Lending A Hand
Lending a hand.

Imagine you’re in line at a grocery store when you realize you’re short on funds. Would you put something back? Leave the store?

As inflation continued to impact household finances throughout 2022, our members were looking for opportunities to quickly access extra cash for groceries, bills, or unexpected expenses. In these situations, people sometimes turn to payday lenders or cash advance services. But we hoped to provide a safer, more cost-effective way for members to access needed funds. With our new Easy Cash product, qualified members can easily request additional funds within minutes. A member’s relationship with us determines eligibility and allows them to borrow up to $1,000 for 12 months or $2,000 for 18 months.

To access funds, qualified members will see the option to request Easy Cash within Online or Mobile Banking. After filling out a quick questionnaire, funds are deposited to the member’s account within 15 minutes of application submission. Easy Cash funds can be used right away.

After a month-long pilot program with our team, Easy Cash became available for qualified members just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As of March 27, 2023, Lake Trust members have benefitted from the Easy Cash program by requesting over $1.3 million in loans, with an average loan balance of $1,000. Through a survey at the end of the loan application, we’ve learned that members often use Easy Cash to cover emergency expenses or to have extra cash on hand to cover monthly expenses.

Strengthening the home equity experience.

As mortgage rates increased in 2022, many people turned to home equity loans to improve their current homes instead of moving. To offer our members a better experience when applying for their home equity loans, we launched several lending process improvements over the summer.

To help members understand where their loan was in the application process, we created a new automated email experience. This reduced the number of calls from members inquiring about next steps and what documents they needed to provide.

Our members have also saved time and money with faster appraisals and fewer fees after we switched to new title and appraisal partners. And an additional new team member is helping the Home Equity Team offer even better service to our members, even after an influx of home equity loan applications.

With our new changes in place, members are now able to close on their home equity loans an average of 10-15 days earlier. Not only do faster processing times and better communication benefit our members who need the funds for projects and purchases, but our members’ home equity loans also contributed to the home loan giveback program. Every home equity loan that we closed during the program timeframe contributed to a donation to a Michigan housing nonprofit.

1Weber, J. (2022, November 4). ‘What else are you going to do?’: Advocates report increase in street homelessness. Lansing State Journal. Retrieved from

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