Hartford — Payday loans, pawnshops, check cashing services and other services that come with high costs, interest rates and fees often lead to the paradox that it is expensive to ‘to be poor.
Those living in poverty or near the poverty line are often unbanked or underbanked, which can leave them vulnerable to other scams that perpetuate the spiral of poverty.
A new program – which brings together the Hartford Public Library, Liberty Bank, the Connecticut Association for Human Services and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund – targets one of the most financially vulnerable populations by expanding banking opportunities for the community of immigrants and refugees from the city.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Library President Bridget E. Quinn, and Liberty Bank Vice President of Community Development Glenn Davis were on hand at the Hartford Public Library on Friday to announce that the library has received a $487,000 federal grant to help promote and teach financial literacy to the immigrant community with the Building Social Capital: An Inclusive Approach to Immigrant Financial Immigration program.
The program will help members of the immigrant and refugee community navigate the world of financial institutions, which can be daunting for anyone.
“Immigrants may also have other specific challenges, such as fluency in English, trust issues with financial institutions or government, wondering who is trustworthy in these interactions, they may have already been subject to, perhaps, predatory lending or fees associated with other kinds of financial tools,” Quinn said. “We’re starting something new, which we hope will help communities across the country to serve this population and will strengthen our economy through the work and access this population will now have to these financial service tools.”
Blumenthal, who helped secure the grant with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, said the grant is an investment in the community, not a cost. He also noted the important work the library does in the community.
“America has always been the land of opportunity, of equal access to uphill,” Blumenthal said. “That’s why people have come to America over the centuries. Libraries are a symbolic and practical sign of America, land of opportunity. … Libraries have been community centers, a source of learning and self-promotion.
He noted that his father immigrated to the United States in the 1930s when he was 17. Back then, Blumenthal said, the banking system was much easier to navigate.
“People today need a lot more education not only to seize opportunities… but also to avoid scams: payday loans, pawnshops, all kinds of promotions and internet promotions,” Blumenthal said. “Ultimately complicated, misleading and misleading stuff. Financial literacy has become a form of opportunity, but also a protection against some of the scams that exist. …Financial know-how is essential in today’s world to seize opportunities and avoid the pitfalls of scammers and scammers. In very difficult economic times, to ensure that consumer purchasing power keeps pace with potential price increases.
Participants in the program agree to deposit in a savings account with Liberty Bank $50 per month for five months, according to a press release. The account will be administered by the library. When the participant reaches the goal of $250, the money is transferred to an individual account in his name and he receives a match of $250, the statement said. Participants can then close the account. However, if they maintain a balance of $250 for another five months, they will receive an additional $250 from library donor funds, the statement said.
During the five months, participants meet for three hours, every two weeks, for financial education and other networking opportunities.
The program will be available to those who have been in the country for less than 10 years.
Bronin said the corresponding aspect of the program is “a powerful thing”.
“It helps solve the fact that so many residents of our community and our country in our country are unbanked,” Bronin said. “About a quarter of Americans are unbanked. You can imagine that percentage is much higher in a community where there is a concentration of poverty and in a community where there is a large immigrant community. this opportunity to connect our residents to banks, financial institutions, savings accounts and provide the educational component that goes with it is really very powerful.
American Place at the Hartford Public Library has proposed and will administer the program, which is expected to launch in the spring, Quinn said.
“This is a really essential program,” Quinn said. “We are super excited for this program.”
The YMCA of Greater Hartford also received a $500,000 grant for improvements and upgrades to its location on Albany Avenue, officials said Thursday.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, House Speaker Matt Ritter and State Rep. Ed Vargas touted the grant, which came from the State Bonding Commission.
“The programs and services provided by local YMCAs across our state are vital to the positive development of our young generation,” Bysiewicz said in a news release. “Children can interact with friends and have fun, learn social-emotional skills and coping mechanisms through practice and play, while being exposed to different and exciting opportunities.”
Ritter and Vargas also stressed the importance of the YMCA.
“We all recognize that the Y is a hub of enrichment programs for families and youth – the programs are essential to our community,” Ritter said.
“Summer enrichment programs are invaluable in the overall development of young people by giving them opportunities and options to learn, develop and improve the problem-solving and social interaction skills that are essential for success,” added Vargas. “I applaud the good work of the YMCA which for generations has been a cornerstone of our community and has had such a positive impact on many lives.