June 18, 2014

All the Credit Goes to Informed Northwest Bronx Residents


It was a packed house on Wednesday, June 11th, for the UNHP Credit Extravaganza! The informative and well-attended credit resource fair was sponsored by the UNHP Northwest Bronx Resource Center at Refuge House.

The UNHP Credit Extravaganza, attended by 55 Bronx residents, included two credit presentations, hands-on help printing out their credit reports, a brief credit report analysis and access to services from a variety of non-profits.

Thanks to our partnership with The Financial Clinic and the help of UNHP staff and interns, the majority of the UNHP credit resource fair attendees were able to walk home with their credit report and the remaining attendees requested their reports by mail. The Credit Extravaganza provided all the attendees with the opportunity to get credit reports from the three credit agencies, learn their credit score, understand the difference between the credit score and the report and information and tools to correct credit report errors. 25 of the fair attendees signed up for a free one hour counseling session with a trained financial coach at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center.

Financial Clinic Fellow, Sergio Caballero, leads a credit presentation covering credit basics, ways to address consumer issues, and how to dispute false or old credit information. Workshop attendees were able to receive assistance printing out their credit reports after the presentation in the Heiskell Enterprise Technology Center at Refuge House.

An opening presentation by John Garcia, Executive Director of Fordham Bedford Community Services (FBCS) and Jumelia Abrahamson, Director of the Northwest Bronx Resource Center emphasized the importance of credit in all aspects of our lives; housing, employment, retirement, and finances. 

During the opening presentation, John Garcia highlighted the citizenship, youth and daycare provider services offered at Refuge House by FBCS. Jumelia Abrahamson introduced the crowd to the groups in the room who were prepared to provide information, appointments and on-the-spot assistance in the following ways:

  • The Parodneck Foundation – home-buyer help and assistance for home-owners at risk of foreclosure
  • LIFT the Bronx – food stamp and other benefits screening, employment support, legal assistance and appointments for a wide range of services
  • Bronx Legal Services – Legal services including representation in credit and debt cases.
  • SeedCo – Medicaid and affordable private healthcare enrollments, screening for food stamps  public benefits and other community services.
  • Apple Bank and Citibank – secured credit cards, no and low cost bank accounts, banking information

Bronx Legal Services was just one of the nine groups available to assist the 55 credit fair attendees.

UNHP was very pleased with the turnout and the depth of information that the participants were able to obtain in the two to three hours of the fair. Attendees were pleased too!  An exit survey revealed that participants felt they had more financial knowledge about credit than they had before coming to the UNHP fair, learned how to obtain their credit report, about the free financial services at UNHP and the impact of credit in all aspects of their lives. Attendees appreciated the availability of services and information provided by the banks and non-profits and found the credit presentation very helpful. One comment from a satisfied customer “Everyone seemed to know their stuff! They (staff, interns, financial coach and non-profits) were all comfortable and confident answering questions and seemed committed to our financial success. (The workshop) was simple and easy to understand and bilingual and gave me immediate solutions” Another suggested a follow- up workshop on debt management and consolidation.

Once participants reviewed their credit reports, they were able to meet privately with a financial coach. Almost half of the attendees signed up for a follow-up, 1 hour financial coaching session at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center.

UNHP is grateful to our partners, our host, Fordham Bedford Community Services and most of all to those who came to the workshop committed to improve their financial well-being. UNHP will be working with Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners to offer a 5 week financial education course starting August 7th. The course will provide help with debt management, assistance creating a spending and savings plan, information on low cost credit union products as well as a credit report and analysis. Sign up today!

In-depth and significant work on the broad issue of credit was accomplished by UNHP, our partners and most importantly by the Bronx residents who attended the fair. Balloons, popcorn and raffles helped highlight our “fair” theme and keep everyone positive and focused on achievable next steps. Jose Valdez, local Citibank branch manager, gets ready to pick one of the evening’s raffle winners.