EmpoweredNYC Helps New Yorkers With Disabilities Achieve Nearly Half Million Dollars In Savings And Debt Collection

December 28, 2021

EmpoweredNYC, a collaboration of City agencies and non-profit organizations supported by Citi dedicated to enabling New Yorkers with disabilities to build a stronger financial future for themselves and their families.

Today announced that, after completing the three-year pilot program, has helped more than 1,000 New Yorkers with disabilities and their families reduce their debt by more than $442,000 dollars and save nearly $26,000.

“People with disabilities have to make unique financial decisions, especially as they weather the financial instability caused by the pandemic, and we are proud to have helped more than 1,000 New Yorkers through EmpoweredNYC,” said the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Peter A. Hatch. “Everyone should have the opportunity to be financially stable and we’re here with support tailored to the needs of New Yorkers with disabilities and their families to better manage their finances.”

“This is a crucial time for people with disabilities to be informed decision-makers about their own financial futures,” said Victor Calise, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “EmpoweredNYC has shown that with reliable, accessible, and trustworthy services, New Yorkers with disabilities can better manage debt, transition to well-paying jobs, and build savings.”

“It is encouraging to see the tangible impact of this pilot program, especially as people with disabilities continue to face ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19,” said Barlow Flores, Northeast Region, Citi Community Investing and Development. “Citi is proud to support the work of EmpoweredNYC, which proves to be a critical resource that helps meet the unique needs of New Yorkers with disabilities as they improve their financial stability and independence.”

“Thanks to EmpoweredNYC, more New Yorkers with disabilities find themselves in better financial shape.” Daniele Baierlein and JL Paniagua Valle, Co-Executive Directors of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “The Mayor’s Fund applauds the decision to incorporate the lessons learned from this pilot program into the services offered by Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, and is thankful for the partners who were committed to providing New Yorkers with disabilities with the opportunity to achieve better financial stability.”

Under EmpoweredNYC, NYLAG financial counselors were equipped with resources to better meet the needs of clients with disabilities, said Beth Goldman, NYLAG President & Attorney-in-ChargeThis innovative programming provided specialized financial counseling for a population that was traditionally underserved in this area. The lessons learned and best practices established will help inform the next generation of financial empowerment services.”

“We are thrilled to have participated in the EmpoweredNYC pilot program with NYLAG and the City of New York to support New Yorkers with disabilities to build financially-empowered and prosperous lives,” said Adelaida Morin, Ariva’s Senior Program Director, Financial Capabilities. “Ariva is honored to have partnered with several trusted community-based organizations that work and assist people with disabilities in the Bronx. We look forward to integrating the learnings from the EmpoweredNYC pilot while working with the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers to continue to expand economic possibilities and inclusion in our neighborhoods.”

“In New York City, and across the U.S., people with disabilities live in poverty at higher rates, earn less and have a lower net worth than those without disabilities. Ensuring that New Yorkers with disabilities have equal access to financial counseling and other financial services is a key component of elevating and addressing these issues,” said Tom Foley, Executive Director of National Disability Institute (NDI). “Equipping New Yorkers with disabilities with accurate information and expert advice so they can make informed decisions regarding managing their money, transitioning to work, tackling debt, increasing savings, and building credit is crucial to achieving better financial health and well-being. NDI applauds the actions of the DCWP and encourages other cities and organizations providing financial counseling and coaching to follow their lead.”

 EmpoweredNYC clients met with specially trained professional financial counselors for free, one-on-one, confidential counseling about budgeting, banking, credit, debt, and savings. Counselors also assist with navigating the asset limits and rules of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, tackling Social Security Administration (SSA) overpayments, and avoiding common benefits-related challenges when transitioning to work.

Nearly one million people in New York City live with a disability, a group comprising 11 percent of the city’s population. New Yorkers with disabilities are twice as likely to be living in poverty as those without disabilities.

Communities, where New Yorkers with disabilities live, were hit particularly hard by the pandemic with 11 of the 14 target EmpoweredNYC ZIP Codes being among the hardest hit in 2020. In spring 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, EmpoweredNYC transitioned to remote, phone-based counseling to continue safely supporting New Yorkers with disabilities.

EmpoweredNYC was a pilot program designed to test, adapt, and promote new strategies to improve the financial stability of New Yorkers with disabilities and their families, tailored to the needs of the community. Early next early year, the partners will release a report detailing program design, challenges, successes, and resources for replication.

DCWP will also be developing a curriculum based on the lessons learned from the EmpoweredNYC pilot to train additional financial counselors in so they can tailor their services to the needs of people with disabilities. Going forward, these services will be integrated into DCWP’s NYC Financial Empowerment Center program, which offers free, one-on-one financial counseling to all New Yorkers through a network of Centers across city and by phone.

For more information about EmpoweredNYC visit nyc.gov/EmpoweredNYC. For more information about the NYC Financial Empowerment Centers and to book an appointment, visit nyc.gov/TalkMoney or call 311.

Co-developed and supported by Citi, EmpoweredNYC is a collaboration between the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), National Disability Institute (NDI) and the Mayor‘s Fund to Advance New York City. It is the first local program of Empowered Cities, a national public/private initiative to expand financial empowerment and economic inclusion for people with disabilities and their families. For more information on Empowered Cities visit empoweredcities.com

Photo: Source.

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