Free financial navigator services help residents deal with financial impact of COVID-19

September 1, 2020
Bank On Louisville teams up with LHOME to offer guidance by phone

The Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE) has awarded Bank On Louisville/Louisville Metro Government, in partnership with LHOME, a local Certified Development Financial Institution (CDFI), with an $80,000 grant to support the creation of a Financial Navigator program. The program is designed to help residents deal with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, by receiving free, remote assistance in navigating critical financial issues and referrals to other social services and financial resources.

“Helping residents who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 is a critical part of the city’s frontline response and recovery efforts,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “The city is proud to partner with LHOME providing this free public service for all of our residents.”

Bank On Louisville - a city-led collaborative that strives to connect residents to safe and affordable financial services - applied for the grant with LHOME, which promotes wealth building by providing financial education and affordable, accessible loans primarily to low-income residents. Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Citi Foundation, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase support the CFE Fund’s Financial Navigator efforts.

Trained Financial Navigators will provide structured guidance over the phone that will help community members maintain incomes, reduce expenses, and stay securely housed. Financial Navigators will help residents triage financial issues, identify immediate action steps, and receive service referrals. Navigators are not long-term counselors, nor can they provide direct cash assistance.

Financial Navigation services will be delivered over the phone with session lengths ranging from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the clients’ needs. During the session, Navigators will help clients address their financial concerns with a variety of tactics including:

Managing expenses/prioritizing payments and when to make them, including:

  • Guiding negotiations with creditors, including credit card companies, student loan servicers, and personal and business lenders to pause payments without accruing interest;
  • Determining if utilities payments can be paused without disruption of service; and
  • Considering options to leverage unemployment insurance and/or short-term disability.

Maximizing income:

  • Ensuring receipt of potential future federal payments such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act;
  • Providing guidance on enrollment of unemployment insurance, food security benefits, and other available resources; and
  • Connecting to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites to file taxes and receive tax refunds.

During the session, the Navigator and client will identify next steps to resolve the client’s financial issues; clients will receive a document via email outlining those next steps. If a resident has additional questions, they may call the program again.

”Louisville has terrific financial resources but they are often very difficult for community members to access and put to good use,” said Amy Shir, LHOME’s President and CEO. “We highlighted these local resources in our grant application while acknowledging a tremendous need for Financial Navigators to connect them holistically to Louisvillians struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

LHOME and the City of Louisville anticipate launching the service in mid to late September 2020.  Visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/bank-louisville or https://www.lhomeky.org/for regular updates including how to apply and other details.

More about Bank On Louisville
Launched in 2010, Bank On Louisville is a collaborative partnership between local government, financial institutions and community organizations that work to improve the financial stability of unbanked and underbanked residents in our Louisville community. To date, Bank On Louisville has helped connect more than 47,000 residents to safe and affordable bank accounts and connected more than 26,500 residents to quality financial education.  In 2020, Bank On Louisville is proud to celebrate 10 years of connecting residents to Louisville’s safest accounts. Visit www.bankonlouisville.org for more information.

More about LHOME
LHOME stands for The Louisville Housing Opportunities and Micro-Enterprise Community Development Loan Fund, Inc. and is an intentionally inclusive CDFI focused on serving community members and small business owners in Louisville’s low-moderate income neighborhoods. LHOME is committed to combating historic redlining and institutional racism by promoting ownership through accessible, affordable loan products and financial coaching services to its clients, most of whom are people of color living and/or working in West and South Louisville neighborhoods. Visit https://www.lhomeky.org/ or email [email protected] for more information.

More about the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)
The CFE Fund’s mission is to improve the financial stability of households with low and moderate incomes by embedding financial empowerment strategies into local government infrastructure. The CFE Fund is a national nonprofit organization that supports over 80 cities and counties across the country.

In addition to the Financial Navigators initiative, the CFE Fund also helps mayoral administrations in cities across the country with other programs, including: kickstarting municipal financial empowerment efforts through its structured CityStart engagement process; supporting cities in launching Financial Empowerment Centers which offer one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service; expanding the availability of safe, affordable bank and credit union accounts through Bank On; and working with local governments to build out and implement local consumer financial protection offices.

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