Officials announced a new initiative from the Delaware State Housing Authority and the financial empowerment program late last month. $tand By Me will provide free financial coaching and counseling services to Delawareans, who experienced a foreclosure, job loss, or major setback due to the financial crisis that began in 2008.
Anyone is eligible for the Fresh Start program, which empowers participants to repair and rebuild their credit. The only requirement is they prove they suffered a loss because of the recession.
The DSHA is using $1 million of the $11.7 million it received as part of the Bank of America Mortgage Settlement in 2016 to fund program.
Participants are paired with coaches, many of whom are from nonprofit organizations (including the Goodwill and NCALL Research) that collaborate with $tand By Me. The advisers are tasked with helping clients stay on track to achieve their goals.
“Not everyone who goes through job loss, foreclosure, or bankruptcy wants to take the same next step,” said financial counselor Andrea Griffin. “We help them navigate that process as to what they want to accomplish.”
According to recent reports, Delaware is among the worst nationally in foreclosures. In 2010, during the peak of the recession Delaware had a total of 6,457 reported foreclosures. That number was reduced to just over 3,000 in 2016.
Officials said that although the state isn’t seeing an influx of new foreclosures, there are still people who could benefit from the Fresh Start program.
“I can’t tell you what it’s meant to me to know there’s something out there that can help me get the leg up I need to go back to being a homeowner,” Fresh Start participant Michelle Thomas said during a press conference held at Wilmington’s Goodwill last month. “Because that’s what I need in my life to feel anchored, because without a home of my own I feel like a ship with no rudder, I feel like I have no base to go back to.”