For the long-term unemployed, it’s a wonderful moment to finally get a job. It’s a cause for celebration! But receiving that first paycheck has little to do with really getting back on one’s feet. Too often, there are overdue bills to pay, bad credit to repair, and bankruptcy may still be a threat. Without good money management, self-sufficiency can be short-lived.
This is where EMERGE’s Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) comes in. By assigning each successful jobseeker with a financial coach, we help people avoid the cycle of ‘boom’ or ‘bust.’ According to EMERGE CEO Mike Wynne, “The FOC introduces a whole new way of planning, with a whole new set of hopes and opportunities.” Last year, we helped nearly 300 people learn to budget, repair credit, and improve their financial standing through our FOC services.
Jeremiah began to redefine himself four years ago. Homeless, unemployed and struggling, Jeremiah was coming to EMERGE every day looking for jobs and stable housing. “I was stressed out, and there was a lot of stuff going on with my kids. I was really frustrated,” he told us. Stable housing through EMERGE’s Fathers and Children Together (FACT) program was the first step. Then, a training program helped him get a security guard job.
But Jeremiah didn’t stop there. Working with our Financial Opportunity Center staff, he created a plan to pay off debt and negotiate past-due settlements. In less than one year, Jeremiah increased his credit score by over 50 points and cleared out more than $18,000 of debt. In August, he reached his final financial goal and closed on his first home.