Urban Edge’s Resident Financial Capability program provides integrated financial support services through its Community Engagement team. With support from NeighborWorks America, staff address issues from severe lack of income and tenancy instability to family budgeting, credit building for families with consistent rental payment history, free tax preparation, and short- and long-term goal setting. Urban Edge is currently participating in two NeighborWorks America pilots to help renters like Sharon achieve their financial goals.
Sharon’s Success Story
Late last year, Sharon was facing eviction from Urban Edge housing. She was being taken to court by the property management company after falling behind on rent. Following some deliberation, she entered into a court-ordered rental payment agreement.
Unfortunately, Sharon was unable to keep up with the agreement and soon defaulted. Facing the threat of eviction once again, Sharon decided it was time for a major course correction. She approached Vilma, an Urban Edge Community Engagement Officer, and joined the Tenancy Preservation Program. Once Sharon agreed to work with Urban Edge staff, the judge allowed Sharon to enter into a modified court agreement.
Vilma applied the coaching principles she learned while earning her Financial Capability certification through NeighborWorks America in order to create and implement a plan that would help Sharon out of her financial hardship. Ultimately, they were able to identify expenses Sharon could eliminate from her life — daily trips to fast food restaurants, a modified cable television package, and fewer cigarettes purchases. With this newfound confidence, Sharon called her cell phone provider and negotiated a discounted monthly plan. In order to alleviate some of the debt she had accumulated, she accepted a small gift from her son to help her get back on track.
Sharon became one of the first Urban Edge residents to join the Rent Reporting for Credit Building pilot through NeighborWorks America and Winn Companies. She is improving her credit score by paying her rent on time, and is also participating in the JP Morgan Chase Financial Capability for Renters cohort, which builds her assets as a renter. Additionally, Sharon is now building her own emergency savings fund in order to mitigate potential future financial hardships that would have previously caused her to lose her home.
Last month, Urban Edge was awarded the prestigious William L. Boyan Award from Boston Children’s Hospital. This year’s award recognized Urban Edge for our excellence in providing high-quality, stable housing paired with supportive services for families. Because Urban Edge felt Sharon personifies resident achievement and what families can do when given the chance, she accepted the award on behalf of the organization and spoke about her experience working with Urban Edge’s financial capability program.