When Jennifer’s three-year relationship with the father of her five-year-old daughter became abusive in 2016, she and her daughter moved out of the apartment the three shared and into the home of a friend temporarily. Jennifer’s goal was to find a new residence for her and her daughter, but that proved challenging because the 28-year-old preschool teacher earned $12 an hour and had broken her apartment lease when she and her daughter moved. As a result, she was unable to qualify to lease a new apartment. After struggling through her situation for two years, she was referred to Interfaith Family Services in January 2018.
At Interfaith, Jennifer worked with both a success coach and a finance coach. Success coaches are staff members who help clients set budgets, personal and family goals, debt reduction plans and a savings target. Financial coaches are volunteers who support clients’ work toward meeting financial goals and share the FDIC Money Smart financial education program with clients. Clients meet with each coach once a week as they work toward self-sufficiency. With the coaches’ support, Jennifer set three goals: to pay off her broken-lease/eviction debt of $1,500, save $2,000 and complete her associate degree, for which she only lacked two classes to earn. The goals were designed to work together as Jennifer progressed through Interfaith’s program. For one, earning her degree would help her increase her wages with her employer. In addition, each time she paid towards her debt reduction goal, she also paid toward her savings goal.
Jennifer graduated from Interfaith’s program in September 2018 and exceeded her goals. She completed two online courses to earn a degree in child development. As a result, she earned a $2-an-hour raise from her employer. Jennifer always added more than what was expected to meet her debt-reduction and savings targets, so she paid off more than $2,600 in debt in six months and went on to save more than $4,600. She left Interfaith with the ability to apply for and get approved for an apartment to set up a new home for her and her daughter. Dwell With Dignity, a partner organization of Interfaith, furnished and decorated Jennifer’s new apartment so she and her daughter could have the fresh start Jennifer worked so hard to achieve.
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