Nonprofits  October 29, 2021

The house that credit unions (and beer) built

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include additional names of participating credit unions and breweries.

FORT COLLINS — Banks and credit unions spend most of their time competing with each other for the same customers, the same money, the same business. 

In Fort Collins, though, some of the city’s biggest credit unions have joined forces to build a house for Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity. Dubbed “The House that Beer Built III — A Strong Foundation of Credit Unions,” the project brings together Blue Federal Credit Union, Canvas Credit Union, Centennial Lending, Elevations Credit Union, ENT Credit Union and First Tech Federal Credit Union.

Participating breweries included Coopersmith’s Pub & Brewing, DC Oakes Brewhouse & Eatery, Horse & Dragon Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing, Odell Brewing and Purpose Brewing & Cellars.

The inspiration for the project came from a Habitat for Humanity program called The House that Beer Built, which originated in 2012, through which local breweries funded construction of houses. Similar programs have emerged with support of breweries across the country.

Following that example, Blue Federal Credit Union began funding a similar program in Cheyenne. When that found success, it began spearheading an effort to get the major credit unions in Fort Collins to  fund the building of a house, said Chandler Elmore, community engagement and development lead for Blue.

“It’s been a long time building,” Elmore said. “We’re all in business to do business. It’s very abnormal for us to collaborate like this. We’re all vying for the same customers and the same business. To actually all come together for a greater good more than just our individual wants and business needs is a big deal.”

The home is being built as a part of Harmony Cottages, the biggest development in the history of Habitat for Humanity Fort Collins. It includes 48 new energy efficient homes built on 4.5 acres over the course of five years, designed to create stable, affordable housing for about 144 people. The house being built by the credit unions will soon see its foundation poured, with construction slated to last through the spring and a move-in date of summer 2022. 

“Blue, like every other credit union, believes in helping people,” Elmore said. “That is the credit union mantra. We want to live that out and be a part of our community, not just slap a sign on something. The Habitat for Humanity project is an extension of that, and gathering that collective spirit from our competitors is huge. We’re honored to be a part of it and put our money where our people are.”

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