A long-time partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) provides residents at APAH the opportunity to grow their financial stability. VCE teaches an intensive Money Smarts Pays program to adults across APAH’s portfolio. This is a 6-week course teaches tricks and tips for budgeting, saving, and making smart consumer purchases. Along with these tools, they take a deep-dive into understanding their credit and looking at ways to improve their debt and credit score – this part done through one-on-one financial coaching for privacy’s sake. With the support of volunteers, childcare is available during the classes which makes it easier for parents to attend. And business centers make checking and printing credit scores for residents possible.
Though Money Smarts Pays is open to all APAH residents, our Resident Services Coordinators specifically recruit residents who have struggled to pay their rent on time, or who have been at risk of eviction more than once. Those specific residents are given incentives to increase motivation to attend course and graduate in hopes to give them tools to assist with stabilizing their home, including dinner, childcare, a $20 gift card and potential credit towards any past late fees once they complete the required number of sessions.
On May 28, the first Money Smarts Pays class celebrated eight new graduates! These residents from Marbella, Columbia Grove, and Columbia Hills are ready and prepared to make better financial choices. One graduate stated, “this class has made me more aware of not only my spending habits, but also other things in my life. For example, when [my coach and I] did the math on how much I spend on cigarettes – $17,000 a year – it made me aware of the harm I am doing to myself while wasting money on it when I could be saving. Or using it towards something that could benefit my family and me. Now I am aware this is something I need to change moving forward.” Another resident was really excited to share the tools she learned and wanted to recommend this class to her neighbors and friends.
When the next session begins in July, at The Springs, they will join 26 graduates from the past year alone who are enjoying the increased stability that comes from learning and understanding financial management.