DCA Announces 50,000 New Yorkers Have Received Free Counseling From Harlem To Hollis

June 14, 2018

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced that the NYC Financial Empowerment Centers have conducted nearly 100,000 counseling sessions since 2008, helping 50,000 New Yorkers improve their financial health and reduce their debt by $54.9 million and increase their savings by $4.4 million.

“Our Financial Empowerment Centers have helped tens of thousands of New Yorkers—including me a few years ago when I was trying to balance my family budget while paying off student loans—but there are many more who can benefit from financial coaching,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “With this campaign, we hope to help shift the stigma associated with money and debt so people take the steps necessary to improve their financial health just as they care for their physical health. We encourage anyone who lives or works in New York City to make an appointment.”

NYC Financial Empowerment Centers assist approximately 8,000 clients per year, helping New Yorkers reduce debt, build their savings, open a bank account, improve credit, and more. To mark this milestone of the Financial Empowerment Centers, DCA is also launching a new, multilingual public awareness campaign, made possible in part by support from Citi Community Development, to encourage more New Yorkers to get free, one-on-one financial coaching. The campaign, entitled “When it comes to money, we could all use a coach sometimes,” plays on the parallels between physical and financial health and will be featured in the city’s subway cars, bus shelters, telephone kiosks, LinkNYC, as well as in print, on radio and online.

New Yorkers can book a free and confidential appointment with a professional financial counselor by calling 311, visiting nyc.gov/dca, or texting TalkMoney to 42033 (message and data rates may apply; check with your service provider).

The pilot NYC Financial Empowerment Center opened in the Bronx in June 2008. In 2011, the previously privately-funded program was implemented in the City’s budget. Today there are more than 20 Centers across the city. The Centers are operated by DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) and are offered in partnership with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, The Financial Clinic, Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, Phipps Neighborhoods, and Urban Upbound. Beyond the Financial Empowerment Centers, OFE also partners with a number of City agencies, such as NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) with the Ready to Rent program and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilites with EmpoweredNYC to integrate financial coaching into existing social services in an effort to reach more New Yorkers in need of these serivces. The NYC Financial Empowerment Center model will soon be replicated in as many as 50 cities across the country through the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund.

“Financial Empowerment Centers provide financially vulnerable individuals with much-needed access to resources for building assets, reducing debt, and establishing credit,” said Eileen Auld, Citi Community Development New York Tri State Director. “In Citi Community Development and the Citi Foundation’s ten years collaborating with the City of New York to develop and grow this innovative model, we have seen enormous progress in ensuring that families get the vital resources they need to become financially resilient.”

“Restoration is proud of its track record as a Financial Empowerment Center in communities that needs such services urgently,” said Tracey Capers, Executive Vice President, Programs/Organizational Development, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. “As we join the Department of Consumer Affairs in celebrating this important milestone, we do so with a look to the future that is foregrounded on the critical importance of asset creation in communities of color. We envisage placing more people in good jobs, preparing more students for college and careers and helping more families build financial assets. We are proud to partner with the Department of Consumer Affairs to find local solutions to overcome inequality and lift up struggling families.”

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“New York City pioneered a movement now spreading across the map – that local government can and should provide high quality, one-on-one professional financial counseling as a free public service,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and Chief Executive officer, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “We congratulate the City on now having helped 50,000 New Yorkers stabilize and grow their financial lives through Financial Empowerment Center counseling, and we thank them for their partnership as the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund supports replication of this model to as many as 50 cities and counties across the country and beyond.”

“Through our partnership with the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), we are building financial security for thousands of New Yorkers at the Financial Empowerment Centers,” said Mae Watson Grote, Founder and CEO, The Financial Clinic. “We believe that these services are critical for families and communities, and that’s why we continuously focus on building financial security at scale through our partners nationwide. Financial counseling and coaching helps those struggling with their budgets and debts develop the knowledge and behaviors to help them achieve their long-term financial goals.”

“Phipps Neighborhoods is proud to have joined the NYC DCA in 2008 to pilot the nation’s first Financial Empowerment Center (FEC),” said Dianne Morales, Executive Director and CEO of Phipps Neighborhoods. “Since then we have worked with nearly 12,000 individuals, helping families, parents, and young people take control their future. Supporting communities in achieving self-sufficiency requires the healthy financial habits and tools provided by our FEC. The success of our clients, whether paying off debt, opening bank accounts, or increasing savings, is critical to their families and the city’s prosperity as a whole.”

“New York City’s Financial Empowerment Centers are an oasis for many New Yorkers seeking to take control of their finances. Whether struggling to pay rent and student loans, building credit, or kicking off a new savings goal, anyone can get guidance from expert Financial

Counselors–and all for free,” said Justine Zinkin, CEO of Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners. “Neighborhood Trust has been providing New Yorkers with financial counseling for twenty years, and we have been a proud Financial Empowerment Center provider for a decade. We welcome the opportunity to serve more New Yorkers in communities across all five boroughs. We applaud the Office of Financial Empowerment and their continued effort to bring financial empowerment services into trusted neighborhood organizations citywide and ensure all New Yorkers can get the support they need to achieve their financial goals.”

“Financial health can directly affect every facet of personal well-being despite your income level,” said Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, Co-Founder and CEO, Urban Upbound. “Urban Upbound, a long term partner with the DCA Office of Financial Empowerment, has provided thousands of NYC residents with individualized financial counselling and group education in tandem with other income support opportunities such as tax preparation and career development to boost the financial health of our communities.”

OFE works to educate, empower, and protect New Yorkers and their communities so they can improve their financial health and build assets. For more information about OFE and its programs other programs, visit nyc.gov/dca.

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