Bundled Supports for a Mother and Son

Posted March 31, 2013
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog Bundled Supportsfora Motherand Son 2013

The strug­gles that plague the East­side and Crown Heights neigh­bor­hoods in Ocean­side, Calif. (north of San Diego), fos­ter an atmos­phere where options and choic­es seem nonex­is­tent or extreme­ly lim­it­ed. In ear­ly 2011, North Coun­ty Life­line launched a Finan­cial Oppor­tu­ni­ty Cen­ter, which is housed in a city of Ocean­side build­ing and locat­ed in the Crown House neigh­bor­hood. The cen­ter’s mod­el of bundling ser­vices allows North Coun­ty Life­line to begin by offer­ing a basic ser­vice — access­ing pub­lic ben­e­fits to help clients meet their basic needs. Once this is achieved, the focus of ser­vices can tran­si­tion into obtain­ing bet­ter employ­ment, find­ing extra mon­ey in the bud­get, fix­ing cred­it prob­lems and begin­ning to pay down debt or increase assets. 

Beat­riz V. is a great exam­ple of how the Finan­cial Oppor­tu­ni­ty Center’s bun­dled ser­vices can have a sig­nif­i­cant impact. After being aban­doned by her hus­band, Beat­riz became the pri­ma­ry care­giv­er and sup­port for her 16-year-old son, Fer­min. Hav­ing lim­it­ed Eng­lish and no place to live, Beat­riz and her son had many obsta­cles to over­come. They moved into a tran­si­tion­al hous­ing pro­gram that had a strong focus on drug reha­bil­i­ta­tion and did not allow par­tic­i­pants to work in the first phase. Since Beat­riz did not have prob­lems with sub­stance abuse, she felt that it would be bet­ter to find hous­ing that would allow her to main­tain her job and focus on her own goals. In May 2010, they moved into CEN­TRO, an employ­ment-focused tran­si­tion­al hous­ing pro­gram also case man­aged by Life­line. Dur­ing her two years in the pro­gram, Beat­riz worked close­ly with her income sup­port spe­cial­ist, career and edu­ca­tion spe­cial­ist and finan­cial coach to achieve her goal of becom­ing self-sufficient.

Beat­riz was able to main­tain her job as a school cafe­te­ria work­er and began receiv­ing health insur­ance. Through oth­er fund­ing sources and work­ing with her income sup­ports and career spe­cial­ists, Life­line was able to help her main­tain this job by assist­ing with car repairs, gas, food and the deposit she need­ed to enter the CEN­TRO pro­gram. In addi­tion to help­ing her keep her job, the career and edu­ca­tion spe­cial­ist assist­ed her with find­ing addi­tion­al employ­ment to sup­ple­ment her income. Beat­riz also start­ed attend­ing Eng­lish-as-a-sec­ond-lan­guage class­es because she knew this was an impor­tant step to get­ting her GED and becom­ing more employ­able. Thanks to the addi­tion­al employ­ment, Beat­riz sub­stan­tial­ly increased her net income avail­able after pay­ing her bills.

Through attend­ing a 16-hour finan­cial work­shop and work­ing with the finan­cial coach, Beat­riz learned how to pre­pare and stay with­in a bud­get, a skill she con­tin­ues to use. By main­tain­ing her bud­get, she decreased her debt, which con­tributed to an increase in her net worth and an increase of 16 points on her cred­it score. She also took part in the sav­ings plan required by the CEN­TRO pro­gram, which allowed her to grad­u­ate from the pro­gram with approx­i­mate­ly $1,500 in sav­ings. In addi­tion, Beat­riz start­ed an Indi­vid­ual Devel­op­ment Account through Com­mu­ni­ty Hous­ing Works, a prod­uct avail­able to CEN­TRO res­i­dents, which now has more than $1,000 in it.

In July 2012, Beat­riz and her son Fer­min moved into their own two-bed­room apart­ment. She has estab­lished two sav­ings accounts with an area cred­it union and recent­ly pur­chased a car. Upon grad­u­at­ing from high school, Fer­min plans on con­tin­u­ing his edu­ca­tion in a com­mu­ni­ty col­lege with the goal of trans­fer­ring to a four-year uni­ver­si­ty. Beat­riz will con­tin­ue to work toward acquir­ing her GED and start­ing a small busi­ness. Beat­riz and Fer­min are very thank­ful for the sup­port and assis­tance they have received to move from depen­den­cy to liv­ing inde­pen­dent­ly and sav­ing mon­ey for the future.

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