Free financial education available to city residents
As payday loans and online loans for Evanston and other Illinois residents dry up, some people face a dilemma.
Namely, what do you do when you need money but the lenders you have relied on no longer provide the cash?
This is one effect of the Predatory Lending Act, which limits the interest rate on small loans to 36% APR (Annual Interest Rate).
Many payday lenders and online lenders in the state, which often charge anywhere from 200-400% APR, have opted to close or at least not offer loans in Illinois.
But help is available to Evanston residents who may have previously benefited from these institutions. Not necessarily a loan … but rather education in financial literacy and well-being; training on how to better manage your money and not get stuck in the trap of endless debt.
Sarah Gordon, an Evanston resident, is director of market and business development for Financial Health Network, a nonprofit consulting firm that helped the City develop an education program and select a partner, First Northern Credit Union.
“So much of it,” says Gordon, “is about how to change your financial behavior.”
Although Evanston is generally a wealthy community, Gordon says, “There are quite a significant number of people here who are financially unstable.”
“There are pockets of real necessities,” he says, especially because housing is so expensive.
Nationwide, the Network claims that 14% of people are “financially unstable”, 52% are “financially viable” and 34% are “financially healthy”.
“Coping financially” means coping and paying the bills, but these people, says Gordon, “are only a few emergencies away from serious trouble.”
City’s partnership with First Northern offers a series of free webinars on a variety of financial health issues, ranging from crisis management, retirement financing and credit restoration.
First Northern’s website says Evanston residents who complete the series of courses may qualify for a Certificate of Completion, which may qualify them for a loan against the credit.
It’s basically a credit building loan for people who may have had to rely on short term payday loans due to poor credit ratings.
There are also other financial education and coaching programs in the city, such as the one offered by YWCA.
Gordon says Evanston is doing the right thing by offering a wellness financial partnership program to residents.
But she would also like City to join a nationwide community group called Cities for Financial Empowerment.
Thirty-one cities, including Chicago, are part of a group whose website says one initiative, called Financial Navigators, is helping residents deal with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by “providing remote assistance in navigating financial critical issues and making referrals. other welfare agencies and resources ”.
Gordon says that those who are financially comfortable should be aware that not everyone is so lucky.
“We can never make people afford houses in Evanston,” he says, “unless we start working on financial health from day one.”