From Student Loan Debt to Homeownership Dreams

For Homeowner & Renter Resources Click Here
It may come as no surprise that student debt is one of the greatest financial burdens Americans face today. In California alone, residents owe approximately $131.2 billion in student loan debt.

For Elizabeth Lopez (27), a dental assistant and mother of two young girls, the weight of this burden was far too real. Student loans had consumed her entirely to the point where the IRS was withholding her tax returns.

“My living situation at the time didn’t allow me to pay down my student loans,” said Elizabeth. “I had to focus on providing for my daughter at that time, it was hard.” Read more.
SHE Deploys Pandemic Relief Fund
By early April, SHE staff were hearing regularly from households stressed by the fallout from COVID-19, including sudden loss of income. It became very clear that we would have to provide emergency financial assistance to our most vulnerable populations. As usual, NeighborWorks America was a first responder, awarding us funds to use in any way we deemed necessary during the pandemic. Soon thereafter, we named our fundraising effort the SHE “Pandemic Relief Fund,” intending to make cash assistance to individuals and households affected by COVID-19. Subsequently, we received substantial funding awards from the California Coalition for Rural Housing (CCRH,) and an anonymous foundation, bringing our total fund to nearly $400,000. By July 1st, we began making up to $500 in cash available to low-income households, with a focus on undocumented persons, farmworkers, and folks experiencing homelessness. In four weeks, we have awarded over $175,000 to nearly 400 households!

More than HomeOwnership Counseling
Great news! The Gateway Program has recently added Rental Counseling and COVID-19 Counseling to our list of services. Here is a list and detailed description of what each entails:

Rental Counseling consists of exploring the household’s current, immediate and future needs, affordability, potential rental resources (low-income rental communities, rental assistance programs) and rental vs homeownership budgeting. Oftentimes, it is during these sessions that we are able to help clients determine if homeownership is an attainable goal for them or connect them with resources and/or affordable housing.

COVID-19 Counseling specifically assists clients impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Counselors work to identify the household’s immediate need, link clients to direct resources, submit applications for Pandemic Relief Funds and ensure that these families have the most current information available under the Cares Act and other local, state and federal options. In addition, Gateway staff have created and maintained an up to date resource list with information regarding unemployment, local and state benefits, supplemental food sources, rental, mortgage and creditor assistance. These sessions are available to both renters and homeowners.

Budget Counseling is focused primarily on the household's budget – both current and future. For many households, the concept of budgeting is intimidating, restrictive or completely misunderstood. Through hands-on practice and discussion, clients are able to recognize the important parts of creating a budget, learn skills to personalize their budget and maintain this budget during rental, emergencies and homeownership. Coaches will assist clients in financial goal setting with use of budgeting for achieving these goals.

Gateway Homeownership Counseling helps folks seeking to qualify for one or more low income housing program administered by SHE. Participants must engage in a 1-on-1 coaching session during which the counselor evaluates the client's mortgage readiness. During this session they focus on six key areas vital to successful homeownership: Income/Employment, Credit, Debt/Affordability, Budgeting, Savings and Education. Upon completion of the initial session, clients are provided an action plan and goal sheet which allows them to work towards qualifying for a mortgage loan. 

For more information, please visit our website .
Or call our office at (559) 651-1000 to get connected with a Gateway Counselor today.

We Are Still Hiring!
Despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, SHE is still looking to add to our team of passionate and skilled individuals. Self-Help Enterprises offers an exciting work environment where you can bring your high caliber skills to a true career opportunity and impact the world around you.

Click here to see ALL career opportunities.
Our New Emergency Preparedness Page
Check out our new Emergency Preparedness page for COVID-19 awareness and prevention information as well as how folks can stay prepared for an emergency or natural disaster. Click here to view.