First declared by President Obama in March 2014, Financial Capability Month is a nationwide call to action to support informed financial decisions and build economic security for middle- and working- class Americans. According to an annual survey by NeighborWorks America, there was a 5% increase between 2014 and 2015 of people with absolutely no emergency savings as well as a 6% increase of people who say their savings would only last three months or less, showing a rising need nationwide. In New York City, 43% of total households — and 66% of all minority households — do not have enough money saved up to even live at the poverty level for three months without income, according to a recent study from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) 2015 Assets and Opportunity.
Our Network Partners are here to help – they offer vetted, free financial counseling services and workshops in neighborhoods throughout the city. These services provide homeowners with the tools and knowledge to make more well-informed financial decisions and address challenges such as bad credit, negotiating with creditors, balancing household budgets, and reducing debt. Homeowners can call 646-786-0888 to be connected to financial counseling services offered by our network.
We also work closely with the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Financial Empowerment, which offers free or low- cost financial education and counseling across New York City. Homeowners can visit the Department of Consumer Affairs’ website to find a Financial Empowerment Center in their neighborhood.
We know from working with thousands of homeowners across the city that it is extremely difficult for low- to middle-income families to balance day-to-day expenses on top of housing payments. To add to all this, scams that take valuable funds away from homeowners under a false promise of help are becoming more sophisticated, resulting in bigger setbacks for New Yorkers. In our report, Who Can You Trust? The Foreclosure Scam Crisis, we note that New Yorkers suffer larger losses to scammers compared to homeowners nationwide, losing $900 more on average than the rest of the nation. While the Center is actively working to raise awareness about these scams, there are many scammers out there looking to take advantage of New Yorkers in need. It’s critical for homeowners to reach out to the City or community groups for trustworthy help. If you suspect a scam, use AGScamHelp to report it.
We’re in this together. That’s why we at the Center hosted a training this month to convene our partners and talk about existing resources, and brainstorm on what more we can do to harness our collective skills to best assist homeowners in need.
Join the conversation and encourage your neighbors to build their financial security by spreading the word using #FinancialCapabilityMonth.