Detroit’s first two Financial Empowerment Centers are now open for business.
The program is set-up to provide free financial counseling and social services to Detroit residents with lower incomes. It’s the result of a collaboration between city officials, the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office, and a handful of other entities. Mayor Mike Duggan says the goal is to help citizens keep the money they make.
“There’s more opportunities [in Detroit] than there’s been here before,” says Duggan,” but if you feel like you need a little bit of help in somebody that’s a career professional, you can come here.”
City officials say similar Empowerment Centers nationwide have helped reduce individual debt by more than $100 million and increased family savings by more than $10 million.
A trial run of the program was conducted last year. Derrick Kennedy was one of the Detroit residents involved in the pilot.
“I can say that I have been very privileged to take advantage of these opportunities,” Kennedy says.
Eric Sabree is Wayne County Treasurer. He says while the program is not a substitute for having a bigger paycheck, it will help residents manage the money they do have.
“Because sometimes it’s not enough just to give them information,” says Sabree. “Sometimes you have to guide the individuals who come in for help and I think this Financial Empowerment Center will be a way to guide individuals; help them navigate through the system that we have.”
With Empowerment Centers now open for business at the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office and at 7310 Woodward Avenue, Sabree says the goal is to place the services in four more buildings by the end of the year. He says locations for those additional Centers are yet to be determined.