Written By Art Taggart, Belmont Housing Resources for WNY
Through the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood’s Two-Generation Initiative and the partnership between M&T Bank and Belmont Housing Resources for WNY, I serve as the Housing Counselor / Financial Coach.
As a Housing Counselor, I provide parents who participate within our Parent Achievement Zone (PAZ) with the knowledge & skills necessary to become financially capable, economically self-sufficient and assist with their basic housing needs towards both home ownership and rental sustainability. Many parents are looking for guidance & direction amongst their search for affordable rental housing. Thus, upon request, I’ll either provide housing listings or will show them where & how to obtain them. Together we’ll create a rental resume, utilize apartment search logs and strategize & develop a savings plan towards security deposit, 1st and last month’s rental expenses.
As a Financial Coach, I assist parents with creating & maintaining a household budget based upon their financial needs, provide benefit screening services and make referrals to area community based agencies as needed, help with developing both realistic & attainable short-term and long-term goals along with the corresponding action steps to monitor their progress and identify the appropriate strategies towards increasing income and reducing debts through the use of spending logs. Parents will also learn how to review their credit report, as well as learn the importance of having and maintaining a healthy credit score.
In addition to one-on-one Coaching sessions, periodically throughout the academic school year, I serve as Workshop Presenter / Facilitator during several group events. During the Financial Education Series, parents learn a variety of techniques including budgeting / credit management, avoiding financial scams and planning for the future. The Learning to Work It Out Series provides parents with the cognitive skills to develop an overall greater self-awareness, discusses stress management, they learn the unspoken rules of work and the methods towards better expressing their concerns, how to deal with criticism as well as problem solving techniques. Through our Renter Edge Workshops, our parents learn the basics toward cultivating better tenant – landlord relationships, their tenant rights and the Fair Housing Laws.
A couple of other related services that I enjoy providing . . . to enhance the asset building process of our parents, through Belmont’s collaboration with the United Way’s CASH Coalition, we are able to provide our PAZ program parents with FREE tax preparation services which saves them hundreds of dollars versus utilizing the various neighborhood’s high-cost tax preparation agencies. For the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of assisting with our PAZ M.A.L.E. (Men Achieving and Leading by Example) initiative, whereby, we periodically sponsor group educational events with those males (fathers, grandfathers, uncles) having a vested interest with our children.