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CDC Impact: Financial Empowerment

Over the last few years, Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) has been working hard to quantify the impact of CDCs throughout Ohio. We’ve been collecting and analyzing data from our member organizations and are excited to share our findings – especially in digestible bits.

We are pleased to state that, each year, over one million people benefit from the work of Ohio’s CDCs.

This week, we take a look at financial empowerment. Approximately 50% of Ohio CDC Association members offer a financial empowerment program. Through financial empowerment initiatives, CDCs provide education and asset building tools so low and moderate income families can become financially independent, improve credit, reduce debt and foreclosure risk, and contribute to community stability.

Did you know that, in 2016, Ohio CDCs:

  • Invested nearly $6,500,000 in financial empowerment programs to leverage $65,000,000  in assets for low-income Ohioans;
  • Conducted financial empowerment programs which improved the financial well-being of 1 out of every 2 participants;
  • Improved the financial well-being of nearly 35,000 Ohioans.

The many organizations that perform this work do so in a myriad ways.

One way is through the OCDCA Assets Ohio Individual Development Account (IDA) Program. Operated by OCDCA since 1999, IDAs are matched savings accounts for low-to-moderate income individuals to save for a first time home purchase, small business venture, or post-secondary education. The participant savers contribute earned income and receive up to an 8:1 match for their desired asset. While saving, they undergo financial education and asset specific education.

One central Ohio OCDCA member helped Deb in 2016. Deb has two sons and six grandchildren. She is a long-time dedicated Goodwill employee and was approved for a Habitat for Humanity home in 2015. After about six months in the IDA program, Deb saved enough money to reach her goal, and was ready for a down payment in March 2016.

Stories like Deb’s are sprinkled throughout the state thanks in part to the work of Ohio CDCs. Because of the work and programs of CDCs, many individuals and families are finding empowerment and economic prosperity that continues to be a challenge for many Americans.


Financial Education Training for Trainers

Join us for the Your Money, Your Goals training for trainers curriculum, developed and delivered by OCDCA trainer favorite Inger Guiffrida of the Consumer financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The Your Money, Your Goals toolkit helps front line staff and volunteers as they work with consumers to:
• Make spending decisions that can help them reach their financial goals,
• Order and fix credit reports,
• Reduce debt,
• Avoid harmful financial products, and much more!

This day-long training is free with registration and includes a printed copy of the Your Money, Your Goals toolkit.

Register soon as space is limited.

Your Money, Your Goals: Training for Trainers
August 1, 2017  /  9 AM – 5 PM
Chase Bank Building, 6th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215

For more information, please contact Suzanne Parks at (614) 461-6392 ex. 206.


DeSoto Bass, Hilltop public housing residents get job help

Big news from Dayton featuring OCDCA member Greater Dayton Premier Management and CareSource Life Services!

Cory Frolik for Dayton Daily News:

Aquanna Quarles last year met with then-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. Quarles has lived in DeSoto Bass since 2007. Quarles, who enrolled in Greater Dayton Premier Management’s self-sufficiency program, was a shift manager and wanted to keep moving up the ladder. Photo by Cornelius Frolik.

A new job center opened this week in the heart of the DeSoto Bass Courts in West Dayton that will assist public housing residents with finding jobs and better-paying work.

Residents of the roughly 500 apartments in the DeSoto Bass and nearby Hilltop Homes public housing developments now have access to an on-site job center that has eight offices for community organizations, a computer lab, kitchen and meeting space.

The center will connect job-seekers with employers, offer work-readiness training and will help residents with job placement and financial literacy services, officials said.

The center just opened, and already 20 residents have signed up for the Jobs-Plus program, and two have already found work, said Jennifer Heapy, CEO of Greater Dayton Premier Management, the local public housing authority.

In September, the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) visited the DeSoto Bass Courts housing project to announce it was selected for a $2.4 million grant as part of the federal Jobs-Plus Initiative Program.

Greater Dayton Premier Management was one of only six public housing authorities out of 4,000 nationwide to receive a Jobs-Plus grant award last year. The agency last year also received a $1.5 million federal grant to develop a plan to remake the West Dayton neighborhood around DeSoto Bass.

The job center will help residents learn a trade, obtain a GED, improve their jobs skills and make other gains that help people get their first job or climb the ladder if they are already employed to become more self-sufficient and earn higher wages, Heapy said.

When residents participate in the Jobs-Plus program, they receive incentives so that their rental subsidies do not decrease when their wages rise, officials said. People in Jobs-Plus can get a 100 percent “income disregard” for up to two years.

Jobs-Plus, a four-year grant, will help pull public housing residents out of poverty by permitting them to advance in their jobs and careers to earn more money without having to fear that they will hit a benefits cliff and lose some of their rental subsidies, officials said.

Premier Management has hired a Jobs-Plus coordinator and has partnered with CareSource’s Life Services department to try to help residents obtain jobs that pay living wages, Heapy said.

CareSource offers its members services to help overcome obstacles to employment, including interview and job training, transportation and childcare assistance and budget and financial counseling.

Read the whole article here.


Akron women planting seeds, hoping corn and new lives grow

Once again, cool things are happening in Akron. OCDCA member, East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation is playing a part in this awesome work.

“Four homeless women spent Tuesday morning in East Akron planting seeds for what they hope grows into a small corn field and, by extension, a new life.

The women are part of Future Story, a program run by Haven of Rest Ministries that teaches women how to launch micro-businesses of their own.

Future Story collaborated with East Akron Neighborhood Development on the corn field.


Kyle Julien, director of urban planning for the development group, said the Summit County Land Bank helped his organization gain control of the land, which is owned by a defunct California company.

Last year, the property was so overgrown, the vegetation spilled onto the sidewalks. The East Akron development group worked to clean it up so it could be planted.

Part of the property will ultimately be used as a natural way to help control storm water so it doesn’t flood the city’s sewer system. It’s one of several green projects that could trim the cost of building city sewers by more than $12 million.”

Read more from Amanda Garrett’s story in the Akron Beacon Journal.


Lakewood has a way to help prevent elder fraud

“A grandmother doing something as innocent as buying you an inexpensive knick knack online may leave her vulnerable to fraudulent vultures, which is becoming a growing problem for elders.

Lakewood’s Division of Aging is hoping to help by holding a month-long Senior Financial Workshop, beginning with a two-part presentation on elder financial abuse, beginning March 22.

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The opening session will cover fraud targeted at senior citizens. From prescription drug and lottery scams to Medicare and Medicaid fraud, seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion nationwide every year, according to a MetLife study.

The presentation will be hosted by Michael Floreth, a financial empowerment coach at the organization Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP), a housing and financial-counseling agency approved by HUD.

The subsequent presentations will focus on budgeting goals and money-saving techniques.

The issue of elder financial abuse has recently received more attention. Last year, there was a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing and theDepartment of Justicenow provides an online reporting tool.

“If you’re 55 or older, ESOP has specific services geared to helping you make good financial decisions and maintain financial stability as you age,” said Toni Gelsomino, director of the city’s department of human services.”

Read more in Matt Perez’s article on Lakewood Patch.


SPICE offers services for local start ups

From The Perry County Tribune, by Bill Rockwell:

“The Southern Perry Incubation Center for Entrepreneurs (SPICE) offers many programs/classes for potential new business owners and those who have been in business for years.

Organized in 2000, and funded through a grant from Kellogg’s, to utilize local assets to help build homegrown businesses. “SPICE helps local businesses and let them know that they have some place to turn to,” said SPICE Executive Director Heather Sowers during a recent meeting of the Perry County Chamber of Commerce.


“Most people give up on their dream of owning their own business because they can’t get credit. We try to work with them and make their dreams work out,” Sowers said.

SPICE offers a guiding hand to mom and pop businesses through the loan application phase and also assists through workshops and other business training and financial management ideas.

“It’s a lot of work,” Sowers says. “But, if people are dedicated enough, we have had people find success through the program.”

SPICE is located in Southern Perry County and services all of Perry County, to be eligible for a SPICE loan; the applicant must meet LMI (low to moderate income) guidelines. The non-profit organization offers classroom instruction that takes participants through the steps of starting a business and also offers low interest loans for start up businesses or for the expansion of an existing business.

“Perry County is remote, but we have a lot of assets here. SPICE helps local businesses, which is good for the betterment of Perry County. We know there are some good people with no place to turn too. We focus on LMI because that’s the bulk of the people that we want to assist.”


ECDI’s minor home repair program: helping those who help others

“When it comes to economic development, there is, as they say, more than one way to skin a rabbit. ECDI’s Minor Home Repair Program, funded by the City of Columbus, Franklin County and the State of Ohio, is an example of a program that provides a layered type of economic and community development that isn’t predicated on investing capital. Senior and disabled residents in Central Ohio receive needed home repairs to address safety hazards, substandard features and accessibility issues, preserving their dignity, comfort and independence, while also providing contracting opportunities for local entrepreneurs.


“The work is steady with help from ECDI and Lifecare Alliance,” says Alex Dashkovsky, owner of Quality Paint, an ECDI-approved contractor. “It’s much easier… I don’t have to worry if I’m not on one job. My guys are constantly out there and I can pull them away to do some projects as they appear.”…”

Read more from Columbus’s Metropreneur.


Price Hill Will starting homesteading program

Price Hill, in Cincinnati, was one of the hardest hit neighborhoods during the foreclosure crisis. One strategy Price Hill Will is using to address vacant homes is a pilot homesteading program, designed for Price Hill residents to become homeowners.

Read more in the WCPO article by Greg Paeth.

More about Homesteading, from Price Hill Will‘s website:


Not all homes are in need of a total rehab, and not all families are able to attain homeownership through the traditional path. Our homesteading program provides a new path to homeownership for people who might not be able qualify for a traditional mortgage, but who have renovation skills and are able to put in some sweat equity.

Through the program, Price Hill Will addresses homes that can’t be sold on the open market because they need substantial repairs. Homes that haven’t yet deteriorated to the point where they can be classified as a blight on the neighborhood, but would likely remain vacant and decay over the years until they are only fit to be torn down.

We bring them up to code, covering the most costly repairs, and then work with our partner organizations – Santa Maria Community Service and Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio to match them with qualified families or individuals. With a minimum investment and some sweat equity, they will be able to put down roots in our great community. Prospective participants will be vetted and will receive training in home maintenance and financial management. They will have a five year land-contract for the homes, and will also create a work plan that they will be expected to complete within those five years, at which time they will assume full ownership of the home.

This program is still in the pilot phase, and details remain to be worked out as we work on our first home, which is in the Incline District. As we move forward, we expect to conform the details of each project to the needs of each family and each house.


Ohio really suffers from payday lending

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This recent article by Al Jazeera America illustrates just how bad the payday lending environment is in Ohio. We are lagging behind much of the country in this area, primarily because of policy loopholes that allow the lenders to act as brokers. Because of this, they can charge ridiculous fees that are “broker fees” rather than interest. Here is the staggering result:

“A 2014 short-term lending study led by Kent State University economics professor Shawn Rohlin estimated that the industry makes 6.5 million loans in Ohio annually, with a total loan amount of $3.7 billion.”

There are some words in the article by Jeffrey Diver, Executive Director of OCDCA Member, Supports to Encourage Low Income Families (SELF). It’s a good and interesting read, but brace yourself.


CityLIFT gives $15,000 to each eligible Cleveland homebuyer

From the Olivera Perkins’s article:

“The program’s popularity was predictable.

Cleveland CityLIFT provides up to $15,000 in down payment assistance to people buying homes in the city. The program was supposed to be a one-shot deal, ending once funding ran out several months ago.”

The NHS of Greater Cleveland project, a winner of the 2014 Ohio CDC Project of the Year Award, recently received more funding from Wells Fargo Bank to continue this highly successful project.