Richar was only six, but he had a savings account, and he was proud of it. Growing up in an area where 61% of children were living in poverty, Richar had an opportunity to improve his economic future. His mom, Darlene, was orphaned at the age of seven and grew up in state facilities. “I never thought of college for myself,” she said, “but for my son, it’s a different story.”
By 14 Jeff Word had been a member of the Delaware Boys and Girls Club for many years. At an early age he unexpectedly lost his mother to illness; during that year, Jeff struggled to cope with his loss, and was ultimately held back a year in school.
Jamar Nembhard, a then-16-year-old from Wilmington, DE, already had plans for pursuing a college degree in computer science, his own business, and giving back to his community – all thanks to his SEED account and financial education classes.
During the winter, Nicole Legare was paying $600 a month to heat her 1968 model mobile home using propane gas; but after she sought help from NeighborWorks Montana, all of her bills combined – mortgage, groceries, heating, etc. – came out to be less than her old gas bill.
Frank Ellis, a 73-year-old semi-retired machinist, and his wife Joanne, 71, were looking for a quiet place to live after their kids moved out. They quickly found a “quiet, close-knit community” of manufactured homes in Raymond, New Hampshire.
Just a few years ago, Sunshine Cross had no job, no home, no college education and three sons to care for. Now, she has a job she loves, owns a home, earned her Bachelor’s degree and is pursuing her graduate degree.
Lifelong Washington, D.C. resident, Barbara Gray, never thought she would be able to be a homeowner again.
After her home was foreclosed while going through a divorce, her credit score plummeted to a devastating 560, putting her in the high risk category for loans. She wasn’t eligible for a credit card, let alone a home mortgage loan. And she had no savings for a downpayment.
As a single mother, Olga Estrada dedicated her entire life to raising her daughter and son. She left Nicaragua and moved to northern California in the hopes of offering them a better life than she had.
Dena is a natural leader who plans to become a doctor. She knew that her parents could not afford the cost of college. “I wasn’t sure if it was possible to pay for college on my own and I had almost given up hope,” Dena admits. “However, now, thanks to the SEED program, I am well on my way to saving for college.”
Ira and Hazel soon got a call from the lending institution urging the elderly couple to consolidate this loan, along with all their credit card debt, into a single mortgage. According to Ira, the financial institution promised that the couple would receive an interest rate that would reduce their monthly mortgage payments. In fact, the loan actually contained an annual percentage rate twice the promised rate.
But seeing the house allayed all of her concerns. It looked like any other house, with a peaked roof and a generous porch overlooking the front lawn. She was excited about having a home for her family to call their own.
In recent years - and very prominently in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - the state of Louisiana has taken a number of important steps to make asset building a priority. In particular, the Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS) has embraced the concept of asset building, and is implementing a number of programs to address persistent poverty and offer opportunities for asset building to low- and moderate-income residents.
At one point, Erica was living in subsidized housing in Boston with her two young sons. The majority of their meals consisted of dry, packaged goods lacking in nutrition. Looking to better her situation, she enrolled in an Individual Development Account program and has since moved out of subsidized housing, earned her Master’s degree and become a social worker.