Story of the Week 4/12/2016

Savings and Snickers

By Nathaniel Jamison-Root, Home Education Coordinator with Champlain Housing Trust

logo-aAbout a month ago, I had the pleasure of working with a refugee family of seven. Both parents spoke very limited English, and brought their young son to help translate for them. When they first came in, they were living in a prohibitively expensive, small, and rural apartment. They really wanted to find an affordable apartment in Burlington so that the children could attend Burlington High School, where there is a far more diverse population, and they would feel more at home. The father is disabled, and the mother cleans houses, and living in Burlington would offer him greater access to the care he needs, and put her much closer to her work. When I spoke with them about credit, and different ways to build a positive history without incurring interest (they are Muslim and would not participate in any interest bearing line of credit), I could see them becoming more hopeful at their prospects of establishing a secure financial future.

We established a savings plan to prepare for the costs of moving, and discussed a credit
building loan that would help them establish credit. At the end of the initial appointment the little boy said "you have satisfied our hopes for this meeting so well that I would like to satisfy you!" and pulled out a Snickers bar, handing it to me. It was a very sweet experience (no pun intended), and I looked forward to our last appointment. When we met again, the family had tracked their spending, and made good progress on their savings plan, as well as opening a credit builder loan. I was very impressed with their progress, and we discussed their longer term goals. They hope to one day purchase a home, and I told them about the various programs we offer at Champlain Housing Trust, and they were excited at the opportunities ahead of them. After the appointment, I helped them connect with the property managers of several apartments they were interested in. Now they are preparing to move into a lovely apartment in the Old North End of Burlington, and I am very excited to meet with them again at our three-month check in.

VHCB AmeriCorps is a program of the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

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