While recent U.S. Census figures illustrate a declining national poverty rate, down to 12.7 percent in 2016 from 13.5 percent in 2015, the inescapable fact was that nationally more than 40 million people were living in poverty. New York City similarly has witnessed a slight decline as well. Yet a report from NYU’s Furman Center found that 44.8 percent of New Yorkers were living in what were termed “extreme” or “high” poverty neighborhoods last year.
These troublesome findings highlight a need to ensure that New Yorkers confronting economic insecurity are connected with resources to improve their living standards. This needs to be a priority to improve healthcare, employment, and quality of life across our city.
For more than 100 years, the Women’s City Club of New York has worked to address equity issues, championing policies that increase access and secure rights for those who are struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
In 2007, when low-income New Yorkers began turning to sub-prime lenders and check-cashing services as well as other high-risk practices due to a lack of traditional available bank services, a local nonprofit organization responded by launching a program aimed at getting those people out of the financial holes they inevitably ended up in.
The program, called Financial Coaching Corps (FCC), was launched by Community Service Society of New York, an organization that’s headquartered at 105 East 22nd Street near Park Avenue South. Community Service Society (CSS), for its endeavors aimed at fighting poverty, uses a team of volunteers who are 55 years old or older.
Its volunteer recruitment program is called RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) and those volunteers, following a rigorous training program, become financial coaches who then offer free assistance to clients who have credit or debt issues.
Reyes Irizarry, project director of Financial Coaching Corps of Community Service Society of New York, recently spoke with Town & Village about the program and how it helps New Yorkers in financial crisis situations.