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NJCDC Partners with the City of Paterson to Relaunch the Financial Empowerment Center

NJCDC Partners with the City of Paterson to Relaunch the Financial Empowerment Center

February 10, 2023

On Tuesday, January 17, the City of Paterson and NJCDC announced the relaunch of the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) at Paterson's City Hall. Originally launched in 2021, the Paterson FEC provides free, one-on-one financial counseling as a public service to all Paterson residents. The purpose of the FEC is to not only educate, but also empower community members to learn more about critical financial topics such as credit scores and repair, budgeting, financial planning, and much more.

Serving as New Jersey's only FEC, the Paterson FEC aims to help low- and moderate-income individuals and families manage their finances by creating budget and expense tracking systems, paying down debt, increasing savings, establishing and/or improving credit, and accessing safe and affordable mainstream banking products. Trained professional counselors are also onsite to assist these families and individuals and guide them through the different aspects of financial literacy and empowerment.

At the relaunch event, community members and City of Paterson staff were encouraged to meet with the Paterson FEC counselors on-site and book their free one-on-one counseling sessions. To make an appointment, Paterson residents can schedule their counseling appointment online or in person at FEC headquarters (13 ½ Van Houten Street) and partner locations throughout the city.

The FEC has already seen a number of success stories! One such success story is that of a client who recently received approval to buy her first home. Mahmuda Akter, a wife and mother of three explained, "My family and I moved from Bangladesh to America about four years ago, and at that time I did not know how to speak English. I knew I wanted to learn English and also buy a home, so I went to Oasis to learn English". She continued, "At Oasis, I heard about the Paterson Financial Empowerment Center and was interested in the free financial counseling that was being offered. I was connected with the FEC's Program Director Mass Santos, who has helped me to get an approved housing loan to purchase my first home. I am so happy and blessed to be given the opportunity to buy a home for my family! Thank you, FEC for all the help!

Thanks to the help of the FEC counselors, Mahmuda and her husband were also both able to open new savings accounts and increasingly contribute to them. Mahmuda also established credit by obtaining a credit card and increased her credit score significantly over the last year. Together, Mahmuda and her husband were able to qualify and get approved for a home loan, save towards home ownership, and also save towards the move-in itself.

FEC client John Ming, who recently received a key to the city based on decades of service as a beloved city employee, remarked, "Before coming to the FEC, I had a credit problem and a transportation issue. After several sessions with their highly-qualified counselors and much discussion on the path to success, I was able to obtain a credit card and secure a reliable car." He continued, "The FEC has truly helped me to gain clarity, confidence, and understanding of my finances. My next goal is to become a home and business owner in the City of Paterson, with the help of the FEC."

NJCDC's Director of Community Outreach Eddie Gonzalez said, "We at NJCDC are proud to take the lead in offering free financial one-on-one counseling on budgeting, credit repair, saving strategies, and so much more to Paterson residents in partnership with the City of Paterson through the Office of Financial Empowerment. These financial services will add to the many other resources and programs we provide through our Neighborhood Help Center, including youth programming, homeownership, job readiness, immigration, and other referral services."

NJCDC Founder & CEO Bob Guarasci said, "We're going to do as much as we can to serve as many Patersonians as possible." He continued, "With the goal of dramatically increasing the number of people served from 500 last year, Mayor Andre Sayegh is constantly pushing to improve conditions for the residents of Paterson. Through a team of individuals that are well-trained to carry out a comprehensive financial empowerment curriculum, thousands of Paterson residents will become more financially literate and financially secure and have a heightened quality of life as a result of this program. We are grateful to the Mayor and the City for this true partnership."

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