JPNDC program helps out low-income families

With many families still suffering effects from the Great Recession, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) is rolling out the Family Prosperity Initiative, a program aimed at teaching families how to manage their finances.

“There are a lot of JP families who are low-income and struggling,” said Anna Waldron, director of programs for JPNDC, a community development corporation based on Amory Street. “We are offering a broad range of services to help them.”

She said there are nearly 6,000 households in the JPNDC target area (JP, Egleston Square and Mission Hill’s Back of the Hill) that earn under $35,000 a year. That is half of the income needed for a family of four to be economically sustainable in Boston, according to Waldron.

The initiative will help low-income families in JP learn how to construct a family budget, use checking and savings accounts and take advantage of credit.

“Some folks are not using credit,” said Waldron.

For those who have bad credit, the program teaches them how to repair it.

“We want to stabilize their financial situation and have them plan for the future,” said Waldron. “We lay the groundwork to make changes in their financial behavior.”

Waldron also said JPNDC is not offering these services in isolation, but with other steps, such as career development.

As part of the initiative, JPNDC is looking for community volunteers who have expertise in finances. The volunteers would act as financial coaches to families for about a year, maybe more or less depending on the situation, according to Waldron.

JPNDC recently finished a four-week pilot run of the initiative in June. Waldron, who spoke while the pilot was still running, said that 22 residents were involved and it was “going very well.”

JPNDC will evaluate the pilot over the summer before hosting another series of sessions in either September or October, said Waldron. She expects there to be five sessions totaling roughly eight to 10 hours. The JPNDC hopes to turn the initiative into an annual event that will serve about 200 families over the next three years, according to Waldron.

For more information, contact Anna Waldron at 617-522-2424, ext. 255.

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