Racine Financial Empowerment Center and Homebuyer Education and Counseling: Financially empowering Racine County.

United Way of Racine County supports two Housing Resources, Inc. programs: Homebuyer Education and Counseling and the Racine Financial Empowerment Center.

What does Housing Resources, Inc. and the Homebuyer Education and Counseling program do?

Housing Resources, Inc. is a HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) certified housing counseling agency designed to help low to moderate income residents overcome barriers to homeownership. 

Housing Resources, Inc. has provided education and resources to homebuyers in Racine County since 2000. We have three HUD certified homeowner specialists in the Racine office. These counselors work one-on-one with Racine County residents to educate and guide them through the process of obtaining a mortgage loan. This support includes pulling and reviewing credit reports, creating a personal budget, building an action plan to reduce debt and increase home affordability and connecting clients to resources in the community that they qualify for. We hold a monthly, six-hour homebuyer education class that introduces clients to lenders, realtors, home inspectors, insurance agents and other professionals that clients will work with during the homebuying process. 

What is the Racine Financial Empowerment Center?

Racine Financial Empowerment Center tackles discrepancies in financial literacy in Racine County on an individual level. We help clients reduce debt, improve credit, create personal budgets, grow their savings, access safe and affordable financial products, plan for homeownership and much more. 

Racine Financial Empowerment Center offers free, professional one-on-one financial counseling as a public service. When we meet with clients, we go over credit reports and a money tracker in order to build an action plan. We have two certified financial counselors who work with Racine residents in free, confidential and private sessions, for as many sessions as they need. Counselors help clients negotiate, settle or make realistic payment arrangements for past due debts, run financial health assessments, identify short- and long-term goals and connect with available resources. Racine Financial Empowerment Center services are open to all Racine residents over the age of 18.

Racine Financial Empowerment Center launched in December 2020 with completely virtual services. We have a third counselor who is currently in the certification process, allowing us to increase our capacity for services and help as many Racine residents as possible. We look to continue to provide our financial counseling services on a larger scale in the future, and intend to grow our staff to five to ten professional counselors over the next ten years.

What is the impact of the Racine Financial Empowerment Center?Brittany Tobias

Since opening in 2020, Racine Financial empowerment center has supported their clients in reducing a total of $244,016 in non-mortgage debt and increasing savings by a total of $80,993. We have served 225 individuals in just 17 months, reducing 121 delinquent accounts and building financial literacy throughout the Racine community.

Brittany Tobias started participating in Racine Financial Empowerment Center services in March 2021. She was struggling to get a grasp on her finances and credit score and had never taken financial literacy classes in high school or college. With a long term goal of homeownership, Brittany worked with us to overcome barriers to building the financial future that she wanted. Racine Financial Empowerment Center helped Brittany negotiate items in collections, consolidate student loans, improve her credit score, build debt repayment plans, enact a realistic budget and buy a car with an affordable loan. Brittany is now on her path toward homeownership.

What is the impact of the Homebuyer Education and Counseling program?Juan Mayorga

In 2021, 293 individuals completed Housing Resources, Inc.’s homebuyers education course, increasing their knowledge on the homebuying process. HRI counselors held one-on-one appointments with 253 individuals to create personal budgets, improve credit, and build financial literacy. Housing Resources, Inc. ultimately helped 126 individuals in Racine County purchase a home in 2021.

Juan Mayorga Soliz was a Housing Resources, Inc. “fast track” client; he came to us with an approval and accepted offer to purchase through The Equitable Bank. Juan went on to take the online self-paced homebuyers education course in February 2022 and schedule a one-on-one counseling session in March. Because he took the homebuyers education course, Juan qualified for and obtained the Down Payment Plus grant, which helped with his closing costs and down payment. He ultimately closed on his home in April 2022.

DeAndre Lester entered the Housing Resources, Inc. program in August 2018 with a credit score of 598. He had three lines of established credit but his score suffered due to late payments. DeAndre’s debt-to-income ratio was also a barrier to homeownership; he needed to increase his savings and reduce his debts to qualify for a mortgage. With support from Housing Resources, Inc. DeAndre increased his credit score to a 690 and was pre-approved for a mortgage with Associated Bank. DeAndre closed on his home in August 2021.

Dasheika Kidd is Housing Resources, Inc.'s Financial Empowerment Center Program Manager.