For many Americans, financial security is elusive. Nearly half of adults say they could not cover an emergency expense costing $400 without having to go into debt, according to a recent U.S. Federal Reserve report. Yet building financial stability is an essential part of moving out of poverty.
Family Service has long provided support to empower economically challenged residents of San Antonio, Texas, to transform their lives. In 2013, Family Service took a giant leap forward in their holistic approach to strengthening families when the Cities for Financial Empowerment and the Bloomberg Foundation selected San Antonio as one of five cities across the nation to replicate their innovative financial counseling model.
The resulting grant enabled Family Service, in collaboration with United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County and the City of San Antonio, to create the Financial Empowerment Center, which offers free one-on-one financial counseling to low-income individuals. The Center is located in the Neighborhood Place, a community hub where multiple agencies work cooperatively to reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect by reducing stress and chaos in families' lives.
Financial counselors at the Center help clients navigate difficult financial situations, including the loss of a job, unexpected medical and hospital bills, housing/mortgage/foreclosure issues and other challenges. They also teach clients how to budget, take control of their debt and set short- and long-term financial goals. Since launching, the Center has conducted more than 15,300 counseling sessions. More than 5,000 individuals in the last three years, whose average incomes are less than $29,000, have reduced family debt by over $6 million and saved more than $500,000.
"One of the key pathways out of poverty is to increase the financial stability of low-income households," said Nancy Hard, President and CEO. "By offering individualized financial counseling services and mentoring to low-income individuals, the Financial Empowerment Center is helping San Antonio families to take vital steps toward self-sufficiency and, ultimately, a more secure financial future."