Financial education for project residents

As the recession deepens, those hit the hardest are the poorest, who also happen to be the least finance-savvy. To change that, some low-income residents from western Queens have embarked on a money education journey with the help of local organizations.
As part of that journey, 150 of these residents gathered on Saturday, June 28, in the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House, on 10-25 41st Avenue, for a conference called “The Money Makeover: Renew Your Relationship with Money.”
People from the Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria and Woodside Houses learned ways of coping with the recession’s impact.
Conference speakers included financial experts such as Glinda Bridgforth, an author who specializes in counseling African-American women about money. Bridgforth talked about the importance of understanding how one’s emotional insecurity can cause financial trouble. In an effort to project a certain image and feel better about themselves, insecure people could have a tendency to buy things even if they cannot afford them, Bridgforth explained.
Cheryl Glover, from the Queensbridge Houses, said she enjoyed the conference. “When I tell you it was excellent, it really, really was,” she said, explaining that she learned practical things like going to certain web sites to print discount coupons.
“I got home, I shared it [the information learned] with my cousins,” Glover said.
“Financial advice and education should not be reserved for the wealthy when those with the lowest incomes need it most,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, CEO of the East River Development Alliance (ERDA), a non-profit organization in Queensbridge that provides social services and financial education to the residents of housing developments in Western Queens.
“Accurate financial information should be accessible to all,” said Taylor, whose organization hosted the conference.
In the public housing developments of western Queens more than 30 percent of the residents have little or no experience with banks and household income is below $22,000 per year, ERDA recently estimated.

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