New Financial Empowerment Centers seek to change Detroiters’ lives through sound money management

• Partnership between City, Wayne County Treasurer and Wayne Metro with backing from Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, JPMorgan Chase and Skillman Foundation
• Center to provide free, one-on-one professional financial counseling to residents

Financial Empowerment Centers

Detroit residents seeking to improve their financial strength and stability now have more help, City, county, non-profit and business leaders announced today. The City of Detroit and the Wayne County Treasurer, in partnership with Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, will provide free, one-on-one financial counseling and coaching to residents at six Financial Empowerment Centers (FEC) opening across Detroit. The first two, located inside the Wayne County Treasurer’s office and Wayne Metro, officially opened today.

The FEC is supported by contributions totaling $770,000 from the national Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), JPMorgan Chase, The Skillman Foundation, Wayne County Treasurer and the City.

At the centers, professionally trained counselors will help individuals and families with low and moderate incomes manage their finances, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit, and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products.

“Access to opportunity has improved dramatically in the city of Detroit, and residents are starting to see these benefits,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “But we need to make sure that Detroiters have financial stability to succeed and move forward. The Financial Empowerment Centers are going to be available so Detroiters know how to make their money work for them, and I am so thankful to all of our partners and funders for making this happen.”

The Detroit Financial Empowerment Center will start with two new locations:
• Wayne County Treasurer’s Office, 400 Monroe Street, 5th Floor
• Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, 7310 Woodward Avenue

As the program gets underway, four additional locations will be added around the city, for a total of six Financial Empowerment Centers available to residents.

“I am proud of this major collaboration between the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office, the City of Detroit, and Bloomberg’s Cities for Financial Empowerment,” said Eric Sabree. “This new Financial Empowerment Center takes a serious, holistic approach to financial counseling which, in turn, can help struggling taxpayers take advantage of existing programs, better manage their financial affairs, and retain ownership of their properties.”

At the core of the FEC model is the pairing of financial counseling with other services, such as:

• job training and placement paired with bank account setup assistance to ensure new employees have direct deposit.
• housing assistance and foreclosure prevention, paired with savings assistance, help with 0% home repair loan applications, enrollment in the city’s Plan Ahead property tax payment program and assistance applying for poverty tax exemptions.
• returning citizen resources, paired with credit score repair services for those who have gone without credit, access to banking to improve employment opportunities and assistance with identity fraud, a major issue for many returning citizens.
• benefits access to help residents access programs like food assistance

Other services include water affordability, utility assistance and free tax preparation, to ensure residents are getting the most out of their return each year.

"It’s through collective impact initiatives like this that our most challenging and pressing social issues can be addressed," said Louis D. Piszker, Chief Executive Officer for Wayne Metro. "The FEC brings government, business, philanthropy, and the human service sector together to stand up the first ever Financial Empowerment Center here in Detroit and Wayne County to support residents to build financial wellness and achieve their dreams. This is a truly a mighty force for good taking root in our community."

“Creating a strong financial foundation is key to creating opportunity for families in underserved communities,” said September Hargrove, Detroit Program Officer at JPMorgan Chase. “We are pleased to be collaborating with the City of Detroit and to be supporting the Detroit Financial Empowerment Center as part of our broader $200-million investment to help more Detroiters build savings, reduce debt, and achieve their long-term goals.”

JPMorgan Chase's commitment to the Detroit Financial Empowerment Center is part of its $200-million commitment to Detroit in order to help connect more Detroiters with economic opportunity.

“Local leaders know first-hand the connection between family financial stability and community financial stability,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree are strong believers in the growing national movement to bring free, high-quality financial counseling as a public service to their residents; we are proud to partner with them on this critical work.”

First piloted in New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008, FECs across the country have worked with almost 85,000 clients, helping them reduce individual debt by more than $100 million, and increasing their families’ savings by close to $10 million. In addition, a recent CFE Fund evaluation showed that this program works even for residents with very low incomes and other complex financial challenges.

To schedule an appointment at the Detroit Financial Empowerment Center, residents should call (313) 322-6222. Additional information is available at www.detroitfec.org.

About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)

The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders in almost 70 cities to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. For more information, please visit www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund