The National League of Cities (NLC) announced that New York City is a finalist
for the 2010 Awards for Municipal Excellence. The Awards for Municipal
Excellence recognize cities and towns for outstanding programs that improve the
quality of life in America's communities. New York City was chosen for the
Department of Consumer Affairs' (DCA) Financial Empowerment Centers, which
provide free one-on-one professional financial counseling to New York City
"We are pleased that New York City is a finalist for our Awards for Municipal
Excellence," said Donald J. Borut, NLC's Executive Director. "This shows that
even at a time when so many cities are struggling financially, cities and towns
continue to develop the most creative and innovative solutions."
NLC received nominations from cities and towns in 40 states. Finalist
programs exhibited exceptional public-private partnerships, productive citizen
and community collaborations, management of municipal resources, implementation
of government policies, project implementation with tangible results and/or the
ability to replicate the project in other cities.
"New York City's Financial Empowerment Centers have pioneered citywide
delivery of professional, one-on-one, and free financial counseling services –
with quantifiable and exciting client outcomes. This model is proving that
financial counseling service providers can be held accountable for results and
acknowledges that whether you're making $150,000 or $15,000 a year, when your
financial situation gets complicated there's no substitute for sitting down
one-on-one with a professional," said Jonathan Mintz, Commissioner of the
Department of Consumer Affairs. "We're grateful to the National League of Cities
for this recognition and encouragement."
Administered by the Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial
Empowerment (OFE) in partnership with community-based organizations, Financial
Empowerment Centers provide "gold standard" one-on-one professional financial
counseling for free in high-need communities. Counseling is available in person
or by phone in English, Spanish and Chinese. The 18 Centers Citywide meet the
demand for individualized counseling identified in OFE's Neighborhood
Financial Services Study released in June 2008, and reflect the
Bloomberg Administration's aggressive efforts to fight poverty.
The City's network of Financial Empowerment Centers help clients with money
management, budgeting, credit counseling, negotiating with creditors, finding
affordable banking services, managing debt, government benefit screenings and
referrals to other services and organizations. The pilot Financial Empowerment
Center opened in the Bronx in June 2008, followed by three more Centers in May
2009 to meet increasing demand in the face of the nation's fiscal crisis. Today,
there are 18 Financial Empowerment Center locations in the City. The Centers'
financial counselors have conducted 11,187 counseling sessions, served 6,640
clients, reviewed 4,324 credit reports, created 3,060 budgets, helped New York
City residents pay down more than $2 million in debt and build more than
$204,500 in savings.
Financial Empowerment Centers are supported by the Mayor's Fund to Advance
New York City, which serves as an umbrella not-for-profit organization that was
established to strengthen public programs serving the needs and general welfare
of New Yorkers. Through private sector contributions the Mayor's Fund supports
many of the City's initiatives. Financial Empowerment Centers are operated in
partnership with Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Credit Where Credit
Is Due, The Financial Clinic and Phipps Community Development Corporation.
The winners of the 2010 Awards for Municipal Excellence will be announced
during NLC's Congress of Cities and Exposition in Denver, Colo., November 30 –
December 4, 2010. More information about the Awards for Municipal Excellence can
be found on the NLC website at www.nlc.org/ame.aspx.
The National League of Cities is the nation's oldest and largest organization
devoted to strengthening and promoting cities as centers of opportunity,
leadership and governance. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities,
towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.
The Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) is
the first local government initiative in the nation with a mission to educate,
empower, and protect New Yorkers with low incomes so they can build assets and
make the most of their financial resources. Toward that end, OFE seeks to
increase access to high-quality, low-cost financial education and counseling;
improve access to income-boosting tax credits; connect households to safe and
affordable banking and asset-building products and services; and enforce and
improve consumer protections to enhance financial stability.