Are money problems getting the best of you? Call the Financial Helpline.
Westchester County government and United Way are setting up a special two-day phone bank to answer your questions and direct you to resources that might be able to help. Just dial 211 from 4-8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21 or Wednesday, July 22.
Calls will be answered by a team of financial experts who will give free and reliable advice on many topics as well as referrals to free and low-cost programs and services. The experts will come from local banks and credit unions, financial industry associations, and financial education-related nonprofit agencies.
“In times like these, it can be hard to know where to go for information you can trust,” said County Executive Andy Spano. “We’ve recruited experts who will give unbiased and trustworthy information. They won’t necessarily be able to solve your problems on the spot, but they will at least be able to suggest a reliable resource you can follow up with long-term.”
Callers are invited to address any financial topics of interest including the following: budgeting, building or repairing your credit, paying for college or getting student loans, the hidden costs of credit cards, managing debt, choosing the right bank, insurance, savings and investing, identity theft, bankruptcy, retirement planning, foreclosure and eviction prevention and consumer scams
The helpline will be housed at the 211 Call Center. Spanish-speaking experts will be available and a language translation service will make it possible to get help in other languages.
Spano noted that people in all income brackets could benefit from sound financial advice. Among the two dozen volunteers staffing the lines will be housing/foreclosure and debt management experts as well as financial planners.
“People just need to take the initiative and learn about the options available to them,” he said. “Many people have no idea how many resources are out there.”
Local agencies offer many different types of individualized assistance. For example, Human Development Services of Westchester helps with eviction prevention, landlord-tenant mediation and home ownership counseling. The Housing Action Council also offers counseling as well as assistance getting grants. Westchester Residential Opportunities helps people avoid abusive lending practices or get out of an already-bad situation. Community Capital Resources gives workshops to learn about making a solid financial plan for your family.
The helpline is also co-sponsored by Community Capital Resources, a not-for-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides financial and consumer workshops.
The workshop series is part of a county-wide financial education initiative that includes a money management website (www.westchestergov.com/managingmoney) and a “Dollar Sense” workshop series that will run throughout the year.