For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Announces Financial Empowerment Centers Have Helped New Yorkers Save $10 Million

NYC Financial Empowerment Centers provide free one-on-one professional financial counseling to help New Yorkers manage their money

New York, NY – NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga today announced that the NYC Financial Empowerment Centers have helped clients collectively save more than $10 million since inception. Launched in 2008 and managed by DCWP’s Office of Financial Empowerment, the NYC Financial Empowerment Centers provide free, one on one professional financial counseling and coaching to help New Yorkers manage their money, establish or improve their credit, set up a spending plan, open a safe and affordable bank account, contact their lenders about debt, including student loans, develop a strategy to reduce debt or lower payments, access emergency government resources, and more. The NYC Financial Empowerment Centers have served more than 66,000 clients and helped them reduce their debt by more than $85 million.

“As New York City embarks on an equitable economic recovery, New Yorkers’ financial health is more important than ever,” said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “From building credit and opening a bank account to reducing debt, our Financial Empowerment Centers can help New Yorkers bounce back stronger. I’m thrilled that our Financial Empowerment Centers have helped clients save over $10 million since inception and look forward to building on this success!”

“Being a part of the financial counseling program has been an amazing experience. Every time I have a session with Sharon, it was always the push that I need to stay on track with my financial goals, even the ones that I initially did not know I had. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of this program and get the guidance that I needed,” said Bianca Lopez, NYC Financial Empowerment Center client at BronxWorks whose savings pushed total savings to $10 million.

New Yorkers can book a free and confidential appointment with a professional financial counselor by visiting nyc.gov/TalkMoney or calling 311 and saying “Financial Counseling.” Services are available in person or by phone and in multiple languages.  

“Building an equitable economy is priority number one at SBS, and financially empowering New Yorkers is critical to achieving this mission,” said Kevin D. Kim Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services.  “Just as our Workforce1 centers train New Yorkers for in-demand jobs, DCWP’s Financial Empowerment Centers provide residents with invaluable resources that have profound long-term positive effects on their lives. We look forward to continuing our partnership with DCWP to lift up all New Yorkers.” 

"Through innovative outreach tactics, the Public Engagement Unit (PEU) and DCWP are helping New Yorkers' financial health by connecting them directly to key benefits and resources," said Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit Executive Director Adrienne Lever. "We are proud to be working together to reach hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to empower them to put money that is owed to them back in their pocket."

“Navigating personal finances is a daunting feat and NYC Financial Empowerment Centers have successfully guided 66,000 New Yorkers through the challenges of opening a bank account, improving credit, reducing debt, and accessing government benefits,” said Comptroller Brad Lander. “Assisting New Yorkers to save a collective $10 million and reduce more than $85 million in debt will drive an inclusive recovery that will pay off in the years to come.”

“The pathway to economic prosperity is through financial literacy, ” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “I applaud DCWP for providing free one-on-one financial counseling through Financial Empowerment Centers to help New Yorkers manage their money and establish long-term financial goals.”

“Congratulations to DCWP for this incredible milestone that directly and literally benefits the pockets of some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “‘Recovery’ and ‘financial health’ are not terms only associated with our city. We should be looking for ways to help out everyday New Yorkers and their families with their finances.”

“Since their creation in 2008, the Financial Empowerment Centers managed by DCWP have done incredible work to save New Yorkers a remarkable $10 million. The financial literacy they offer is a powerful tool for reducing debt, building credit, and establishing economic equality. The continued commitment from DCWP and Commissioner Mayuga to provide resources like Financial Empowerment Centers will continue to be transformative for our communities,” said Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, Chair of the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection.

“As the former Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, I’m thrilled to see the agency reach the $10 million milestone for its Financial Empowerment Centers, which help New Yorkers save money by providing much needed financial services. Teaching New Yorkers how to manage their accounts, payments and debts is an essential service that Financial Empowerment Centers provide, and we need to continue building on this success to empower and educate consumers and working families,” said Council Member Julie Menin.

“During this critical recovery, it is more important than ever for New Yorkers to have access to free, reliable financial counseling, ” said Council Member Shaun Abreu. “New Yorkers know they can count on Financial Empowerment Centers to help them reduce debt and save money.  I want to applaud DCWP for their work servicing over 66,000 New Yorkers and encourage all my constituents to use their services. As part of the City Council’s Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection, I will always fight to protect my constituents’ hard-earned money.”

“I commend the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for their commitment to the economic well-being of working New Yorkers. Since 2008, the year of the Great Recession, NYC Financial Empowerment Centers have helped New Yorkers navigate tough economic circumstances and will be even more critical now as we emerge from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department’s work to support New Yorkers improve their saving habits, having officially helped New Yorkers save $10 million, makes us more resilient during times of economic hardship and shocks,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer.  

"Thank you DCWP for you're commitment to our city's workers and families. By helping 60,000+ New Yorkers save $10 million, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection has managed to prioritize our workers while also serving our greater economy. From Council District 18, we appreciate your continued dedication and look forward to our continued partnership," said Council Member Amanda Farias.

“Financial literacy is key to improving the economic prospects of our communities. $10 million is an incredible amount to keep in the pockets of our neighbors. This program should be a wakeup call, we need more proactive financial education and supportive programming to help New Yorkers create real financial security.” said Council Member Julie Won.

“Financial empowerment is central to advancing equity, building wealth, and promoting stability in our city. That the Financial Empowerment Centers have helped New Yorkers save over $10 million and reduce their debt by more than $85 million is a testament to the necessary work they are doing and to the power of government to bring concrete benefits to the lives of the people it exists to serve. Our city is stronger and healthier thanks to the work of the folks at the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection,” said Council Member Chi Ossé .

“The Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund congratulates the New York City Financial Empowerment Centers for helping New Yorkers build $10 million in savings through professional financial counseling as a public service,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “Our work to replicate this powerful model in dozens of municipalities across the country is rooted in the New York City lesson that when people are in trouble, they need meaningful, individual help from a trusted source. The NYC Financial Empowerment Centers are a critical touchstone for the national FEC Public movement, which has helped 133,000 residents pay down $192 million in debt and build $38 million in savings across 34 cities and counties in the U.S.”

“Emergency savings are the backbone of a household’s finances and are even more essential for people living at or below the poverty level,” said Lisa Rivera, Managing Attorney at New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). “Over the past decade, NYC Financial Empowerment Centers have played a key role in helping New Yorkers save money and plan for the future, and NYLAG is proud to be a partner in this endeavor.”

“We celebrate New Yorkers reaching the $10 million dollar savings milestone,” said Adelaida Morin, Arivas Senior Program Director of Financial Capabilities. “Ariva is proud to bring the Financial Empowerment Center services to Bronx residents in partnership with the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to help our hardworking neighbors build financial stability. The Financial Empowerment Centers are a great resource for New Yorkers as they work to build financially empowered and prosperous lives.”

“We are proud to have been a part of the Financial Empowerment Center program since its initial days. This exciting milestone is not only a testament to the hard-working New Yorkers who’ve engaged in this service and achieved financial progress in their own lives but also to the power of financial counseling as a free public benefit. We look forward to our continued collaboration with DCWP and achieving many more milestones in the future,” said Justine Zinkin, CEO of Neighborhood Trust.

"Savings is essential to an individual's ability to cope with economic shocks," said Colvin W. Grannum, President and CEO of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. "Restoration's mission is to relentlessly close gaps in family and community wealth to ensure all families in Central Brooklyn are prosperous and healthy.  As such, our financial coaches integrate savings goals as a core conversation, whether it is first helping clients to develop an emergency savings fund or plan for a comfortable retirement or realize the dream of homeownership or child's college education.  

"Urban Upbound is proud to be a thought leader in offering financial education and counseling services to over 69,466 low-income New York Residents across the City. This invaluable tool is core to our framework of diverse income support programs such as Free Tax Preparation, Workforce Development, Benefits and the Federal Credit Union membership to offer holistic empowerment services. For over a decade we have partnered with NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and The Office of Financial Empowerment to incorporate this successful model of financial counselling city-wide. As a result of OFE's support, in 2019 we expanded into Brighton Beach/Coney Island Brooklyn and Jamaica Queens.  We now also offer services in more languages such as Russian and Uzbek. We look forward to continuing our mission to financially empower residents throughout New York,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, CEO of Urban Upbound.

NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCWP licenses more than 51,000 businesses in more than 40 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCWP protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCWP empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCWP also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCWP and its work, call 311 or visit DCWP at nyc.gov/dcwp or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

 


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MEDIA CONTACT:  Laura Feyer / Carmel Agnant

Department of Consumer and Worker Protection

(212) 436-0042

press@dca.nyc.gov