California Bank Uses Money Smart to Bring About Lifestyle Changes for Disadvantaged Individuals
According to a study by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, based on data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are about 21 homeless people for every 10,000 Americans. And while homelessness affects practically every community across the country, lower-income individuals may be the most at risk of losing their home.
But in Los Angeles County, California, where nearly seven percent of the nation’s homeless reside (according to the HUD data), there is hope that collaborative efforts in the community will help these individuals navigate back into the mainstream of society. For example, Bruce Gumbiner, Community Reinvestment Act Officer at Community Bank in Los Angeles, is teaching the FDIC’s Money Smart financial education curriculum in conjunction with The Los Angeles Mission (the Mission), a nonprofit organization that is among the nation’s largest service providers to the homeless.
“Most homeless populations lack familiarity with basic financial services, and that provides an important bridge for this community to come back into the financial and social mainstreams,” said Gumbiner.
The Mission hosts a program known as the Urban Training Institute (UTI), which provides rehabilitation services intended to help individuals devastated by homelessness and/or substance abuse to navigate back into the mainstream of society. The UTI offers a six-class series on financial literacy, and most of UTI’s clients are unbanked or underbanked individuals who may also need credit repair.
Gumbiner teaches a Money Smart financial education class there every Friday to an average of about 28 attendees. “One of the great things about the Money Smart curriculum is the flexibility it affords the trainer,” he added. “Knowing your audience members is important, and adapting the program to their goals is very powerful for the learning environment.”
More important, though, have been results he has seen. “It is satisfying to know,” Gumbiner concluded, “that I am helping some of our most underserved consumers find their way into mainstream society.”
Georgia Nonprofit Organization Teams with Money Smart and Other Partners to Promote Low-Income Homeownership
Totally Free, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Brunswick, Georgia, for the last 10 years has used Money Smart to provide financial literacy programs to help break the cycle of poverty in 27 Georgia counties. Totally Free’s President, Millicent Harwell-Cross, recalls one of the first participants in the financial literacy program: a single father of three who recovered from bankruptcy and was able to purchase a home while taking Money Smart financial education courses. “Being able to learn the concepts taught in Money Smart while applying the knowledge he received from homebuyer education changed his financial position in life,” Harwell-Cross said.
In addition to using Money Smart, Totally Free partners with Head Start programs, Brunswick’s housing authority and city government, Goodwill Industries, Habitat for Humanity, local church groups, and other organizations. Now with two new training centers in Brunswick and St. Mary’s, Georgia, Harwell-Cross said that Totally Free will increase its use of Money Smart, including adding the latest edition of the small business curriculum.
"We're excited about the increased synergy with the FDIC and we are raring to go with using Money Smart for Small Business," Harwell-Cross said. “In these economically challengingtimes, the information has never been more crucial to the people we serve. We plan to empower them to make wise and financially strategic choices to take control of their future and win in life.”