Municipal Efforts to Integrate Financial Counseling Services with Other Social Services
WCPC Seminar Series on Poverty and Policy: Autumn 2013
November 4, 2013
Presented by I-Hsing Sun, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund
I-Hsing Sun is the Chief Program Officer at the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, which helps cities develop programs to educate, empower and protect low-income consumers. She previously worked with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, where she oversaw the Financial Empowerment Centers and broader Financial Education Network; asset building and financial services focusing on safe and affordable products; and tax-time initiatives to connect low-income New Yorkers with free and low-cost tax services and the tax credits. Ms. Sun also teaches Personal Finance Management and Financial Counseling Skills at the Columbia School of Social Work.
Many low and middle-income households face financial instability. Although some services exist to help these households address financial issues, they are often fragmented, their quality varies and the services are often not easily accessible at times when families may be most responsive to such service offerings. In 2008, New York City launched a network of Financial Empowerment Centers to provide access to comprehensive, high-quality, low-cost financial education and counseling. F.E.C.s are located in neighborhoods throughout the city and provide a wide range of services, including credit/debt counseling, budgeting, and strategies to build savings. This presentation will provide an overview of the model, lessons from its implementation in New York City, and how the model is being adapted in five replication cities, specifically highlighting how financial counseling services are integrated with other municipal social service programs, including homeless shelters, domestic violence programs, public housing, emergency cash grant allocation, and transitional work programs.