Housing and Economic Mobility Partnership in Practice: Financial Counseling in CORE Developments

Housing and Economic Mobility Partnership in Practice: Financial Counseling in CORE Developments
Janet Viveiros
National Housing Conference
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This case study describes a partnership between two nonprofits: the National Community Renaissance (CORE), an affordable housing provider, and the Family Independence Initiative (FII), a financial counseling organization focused on low-income families. To increase incomes beyond a level where housing assistance is needed, the FII works with CORE to improve the financial security of families in affordable housing developments. The FII uses an in-person support network and an online data system, UpTogether, to improve the financial standing of approximately 2,000 households across seven cities. Groups of approximately six families will support each other’s progress toward financial goals using a “strength-based approach,” which relies on the advice of other families with similar experiences to help families achieve their goals. Additionally, families are provided incentives through financial awards and educational opportunities to use the UpTogether tool to track their personal financial progress. With many affordable housing providers unable to provide such services because of limited resources, the FII partners with these organizations, such as CORE, to provide residents financial support services. By partnering, families receive affordable housing and financial counseling, which “create a platform for opportunity for residents.”

Key lessons:

  • The path toward economic mobility “is not linear.” Despite setbacks, families will generally work toward financial stability.
  • Affordable housing providers need to allow the partner organization to conduct their operations without interference. CORE advertised the FII program and provided the FII space to use for meetings, but the affordable housing provider did not become overly involved.
  • Funding for affordable housing should reward residents for moving out because of economic success. If funding for affordable housing providers relies on transitioning its residents away from housing assistance, these organizations will have an incentive to partner with groups like the FII.