Initiative helps build credit

Boston Builds Credit aimed at helping 25,000 Hub residents

Mayor Press Office | 11/1/2017, 11:24 a.m.
The city of Boston’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) last week launched a first-in-the-nation citywide credit building initiative. The program, ...
Mayor Martin Walsh announces the Boston Builds Credit program, which will help residents access loans and mortgages. Don Harney, Mayor’s office
  • Launch a public education campaign to reach residents with credit building information and tools
  • Train credit building specialists to provide services
  • Build a network of credit building resources with multiple points of access. BBC is partnering with more than 25 non-profit agencies collectively representing over 100 Boston community-based organizations to implement credit building across the city. Credit building workshops, along with individualized credit building services will be available both directly and through referrals across this network.
  • Facilitate access to safe credit products. BBC is partnering with a number of financial institutions to ensure that safe, affordable credit building products are available and that consumers are aware of and have access to these products.

2.Test citywide strategies

in specific neighborhoods

BBC will provide intensive and coordinated outreach to and services for residents living and/or working in particular neighborhoods identified as high need. This place-based strategy will be piloted first in Roxbury where there is need and to take advantage of the Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment, which already offers free financial coaching. In subsequent years, the place-based strategy will be tested in two additional neighborhoods — Dorchester and Mattapan.

3.Effect systems change

Bolstered by a robust learning and evaluation component, BBC will effect systems change as follows:

  • Promote investments imbued with a credit building lens. BBC will seek to build the field by encouraging more grantmakers, municipalities and social investors to increase their investments in programs that integrate credit building to enhance both client and organizational outcomes.
  • Replicate in other municipalities. BBC will serve as a national model for other municipalities interested in creating similar city-wide credit building initiatives. To do so, BBC will develop an implementation toolkit that will be available along with training and consulting opportunities to interested municipalities.
  • Disrupt predatory practices. BBC will work to disrupt high-cost, predatory practices by promoting the introduction of better products and services into Boston, starting with the three neighborhoods identified for place-based credit building.
  • Promote access to accurate, real time, accessible credit education. BBC aspires to open up a dialogue with credit industry stakeholders and to help bridge gaps in understanding, debunk myths, and foster a collective sense of urgency to help set consumers and small businesses up for success.
  • Promote consumer protection. BBC will advocate for strong consumer financial protections at both the local and state levels, and contribute where appropriate to federal efforts to educate legislators on issues and initiatives that seek to improve the lives of all Americans. BBC invites the participation of additional partners — Boston’s community-based organizations, employers, small business owners, financial institutions, the credit industry, funders, residents and others — to join this effort.

Bank On Boston

Walsh also announced the launch of Bank On Boston, a new city-led program to connect residents with reliable, non-predatory financial products and services that can help them save, grow, and access their money.

In Boston, approximately 10 percent of households do not have a checking or savings account, and rely on costly alternative financial services, such as check-cashing and payday loans. Bank On Boston will identify local financial products and services that meet “safe banking” standards, known as Bank On Certified Accounts. Bank On Certified Accounts must be low-cost or no-cost, easy to use, and safe.

Bank On Boston is part of a nationwide movement of Bank On programs led by the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund. Bank On Boston will raise public awareness, expand access to financial education, and help connect residents to other OFE asset building initiatives such as Boston Saves, the Boston Tax Help Coalition, and Boston Builds Credit. The program in Boston is organized by the Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM), with the help of local financial institutions, community organizations, and city, state, and federal partner agencies.

Walsh launched the Office of Financial Empowerment in 2014. Its mission is to connect city residents seeking to improve their financial situation with access to asset building programs, financial education and individualized coaching, and income support. By assisting residents to obtain the tools to achieve financial prosperity, economic well-being can become a reality for Bostonians of all ages.

Written by the Mayor’s Press Office