Financial Literacy Program
New Ground’s Financial Literacy Program was established to assist our families and veterans with getting a handle on their financial struggles while learning new and better ways to move forward successfully. Upon entering New Ground, most are in debt due to years of homelessness and poverty. They are regularly contacted by collection agencies and afraid to see their credit report because they have been unable to address their debts for many years. Becoming financially literate is the first step to becoming financially stable.
New Ground Social Workers spend a portion of every weekly session discussing finances. This includes completing regular budgets, tracking daily expenses, evaluating household expenses, shopping wisely with the use of coupons and sales, and reviewing credit reports. At the beginning of the process, the Social Worker will assist the family/veteran with printing a credit report. Together they address any negative issues on the report. This includes highlighting erroneous information on the report, creating a payment plan and negotiating with the debt holder according to what the family/veteran can reasonably afford based on their overall household expenses. The Social Worker also educates the resident on how credit works: how to read a credit report, what types of things lead to negative marks, how to build good credit, and the importance of having good credit and a good credit score.
New Ground provides every parent/veteran with supplies to assist in organizing financial paperwork. The Social Worker helps the resident with creating a new system of filing bills and statements so they can always be easily retrieved and paid on time. As these tasks are accomplished, additional credit reports are obtained to track the impact of the hard work being done ensuring credit scores are improving.
Given low incomes and high levels of debt from years of homelessness and poverty, it takes many years for our parents and veterans to turn their credit around. Hence, this work begins immediately upon acceptance into New Ground and continues throughout their time in the program.
Through our Adult Workshop Program, we also provide Financial Literacy workshops to reinforce the importance of the credit report and understanding of one’s finances. Adults also have the opportunity to learn from each others’ situations and provide added skill development. As it is never too early to help develop these skills, Financial Literacy workshops are also given to our children and youth. New Ground also refers residents to outside trainings such as First Time Home Buyer programs, as this is a final goal for many at New Ground.
In addition to the concrete financial work being done, New Ground Social Workers help our residents explore how they came to make financial decisions, who they learned financial skills from when growing up, and how they can ensure that their children do things differently in the future.
Educating the adults who will in turn teach the next generation is vital to ensuring that the cycle of poverty and homelessness can be broken.