IFPN Partners Spotlight: HOPE of Evansville
HOPE of Evansville is an affordable housing developer and housing counseling agency. As a housing counseling agency, HOPE provides foreclosure prevention counseling, pre-purchase counseling, rental counseling, post-purchase counseling and first-time homebuyer education. HOPE’s goal is to ensure that those who need resources, knowledge or tools to access and maintain affordable housing can do so through assistance, advice and counseling from their housing specialists.
To strengthen these programs, HOPE also provides down payment assistance, individual development accounts and small business loans to income-qualifying individuals and families throughout Indiana.
How would you describe the environment and people within your organization?
The HOPE staff and board are a diverse group of people with many different skill sets and abilities. However, we all possession the passion to daily help our clients reach their goals and make our city a better place to live for all. We have a very laid-back and personable environment, which makes it easy for our counselors to build relationships with our clients.
What do you enjoy most about being an IFPN partner?
The partnership. Those who run the network are great at referring to us clients who need help. And, at the same time, they are great at helping us troubleshoot problems, address concerns and ensure that our clients can get the services they need to be successful.
How do you feel your partnership with IFPN/IHCDA benefits your community?
Simply put, without IFPN and more importantly, IHCDA, we would not be able to serve those in our community. We would have higher rates of foreclosure, which would lead to higher vacancies, which in turn would lead to instability and increased homelessness. IHCDA and its programs are integral to the stability of our community and our organization.
What are some future projects and/or events that your organization will be providing to the community?
We are hard at work to address credit issues in our community. We feel we are on the verge of another financial crisis, which will likely be caused by student loan debt. We need to get out in front of this issue now. Therefore, we have created a program we are calling Fair Shot.
Fair Shot is a program designed for those who have not learned how to be financially stable. They didn’t learn it at home, and they didn’t learn it in school. Fair Shot provides financial education in the areas of budgeting, credit, banking access and homeownership. For those who take the education, they are matched with a financial coach who will work with them to establish these principles and techniques in their homes, and in turn help them meet their personal financial goals. This program has gone through one round and assisted 47 individuals as of December 2018. It has now been integrated in one of our city’s after-school programs, and is assisting over 20 kids with learning financial principles.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give struggling homeowners?
Don’t go it alone. And, don’t stick your head in the sand. We are here to help you move from crisis to stability. You can do it. But, it won’t go away on its own. You need to reach out and accept the help from those, like HOPE, who are there to help, judgment free.
What makes you feel that your efforts have been successful when working with clients?
When a home is purchased by a client who worked over two years to repair their credit and build their savings, we are successful. When a home is not lost to foreclosure because our counselor helps a client prepare for a settlement conference and defends their right for a workout and they get it, we are successful. When we help one person move from instability to stability, we are successful. And, we do this for over 300 people each year. So, I think we are successful.