Not many 28-year-old women own their own homes. But, with ambition, hard work and the help of The Village’s Financial Center, Allena and her fiancé are now ecstatic to have a place to call home.
Allena grew up in Hartford, graduated from Weaver High School, received a bachelor’s degree in human development from the University of Connecticut and, in May, earned a master’s degree from Springfield College. Obviously, Allena is a young woman with goals and the drive to achieve them.
“I always felt that it was important to give back to the community,” says Allena. “I feel like I’m a good role model and I want to help people make smart choices.”
Her job as a transition coordinator at the High Road School of Hartford gives her a chance to do just that. The High Road School is a private high school for students with social, emotional and behavioral challenges. The program focuses on both academic and behavioral goals so that students can return to a less restrictive educational setting. That’s where Allena comes in — working to transition the students back into the community.
Like the students at the High Road School, Allena knows when to ask for help. She had worked in a bank so she knew something about how mortgages work. But it was still scary and she wanted to be prepared so that she would be successful getting a mortgage and being able to purchase a home. She also could use some help in augmenting her savings.
Allena had heard about The Financial Center at The Village and reached out. She met Andrea, who gave her lots of information and encouragement, and some homework. During the one-on-one sessions, she learned that she needed to work on the balance on her credit cards so that they wouldn’t be maxed out, was reminded to continue paying her bills on time, and she signed up for the Matched Savings Program, which helped her save for a down payment. After a couple months, she felt ready to apply for a mortgage.
“Because Andrea prepared me and I knew what to expect, everything went smoothly,” said Allena. “I didn’t feel stressed out.”
When she heard that she was approved, Allena wasn’t sure it was true at first. “It had all gone so well and so quickly!” she said. “It was such an amazing feeling!”
She and her fiancé Patrick are happily working around the home to “make it their own.” They love the yard and the neighborhood. “One of the neighbors came over with home-made cookies to welcome us. It’s great for us and my stepdaughters,” Allena says. “I’m so grateful to Andrea and The Financial Center,” said Allena. “They made it so easy.”
“Because Andrea prepared me and I knew what to expect, everything went smoothly. I didn’t feel stressed out.”
The Financial Center’s goal is for clients to achieve increased financial stability. This includes increasing earnings, income and assets and decreasing debt, as well as creating a greater sense of overall confidence in making informed financial decisions. Services include benefits screening, credit repair, budgeting, matched savings, career development, housing mobility coaching, and tax preparation.
- Over 260 clients received help from The Financial Center last year, with over 800 helped since its inception in 2012.
- Clients saved $15,000 last fiscal year. Since the start of the program, over 100 women have saved a total of nearly $75,000, which has been matched dollar for dollar, for a total of almost $150,000.
- United Way Women United helped launch The Village’s Financial Center and continues to be its primary funder.
- Over 9,200 tax returns were prepared by the Greater Hartford VITA campaign last season, returning more than $20 million in refunds and credits.