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September 26, 2018
  • Isaac McGinn, (o: 929-221-5564 c: 646-946-9667)
  • Arianna Fishman, (o: 929-221-5249 c: 646-761-8135)
Nearly 500 shelter staff will be equipped to train homeless New Yorkers on financial literacy, efficient saving, and effective budgeting to help bridge gap between rent and income


NEW YORK—The CUNY School of Professional Studies, The Financial Clinic and the New York City Department of Homeless Services announced the launch of DHS Financial Independence Now (DHS FIN), a customized training program that will equip shelter staff with the tools they need to assist adults, young adults and adult families experiencing homelessness citywide with economic counseling, financial literacy, and effective budgeting.
In the program’s first year, DHS FIN will train approximately 175 shelter case managers and offer a condensed course to approximately 50 shelter executives, with the goal of emphasizing and strengthening each shelter as well as each client’s focus on financial literacy and planning. Over the course of the three-year initiative, 471 case managers and executives across more than 100 transitional housing facilities serving single adults, young adults and adult families will participate in this on-site training on a rolling basis at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.
"As New Yorkers experiencing homelessness get back on their feet, effective economic plans are key to remaining independently housed for the long-term,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “This innovative partnership with experts at the CUNY School of Professional Studies and The Financial Clinic will create educational opportunities for dedicated staff and strengthen our ability to assist clients citywide with developing the financial literacy skills and sustainable budgets they need to stabilize their lives.”

"At the Department of Homeless Services, we are committed to raising the bar for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness as they get back on their feet," said Department of Homeless Services Administrator Joslyn Carter. "Financial Independence Now’s essential programming reinforces our commitment to building a culture that encourages financial literacy, income building, and economic education—and exemplifies how innovative collaborations are helping us transform a haphazard shelter system decades in the making, recognizing there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the citywide challenge of homelessness. We are thankful to The Financial Clinic and the CUNY School of Professional Studies for their partnership, which will increase access for approximately 50,000 New Yorkers in need to the tools they need to succeed."
An interactive classroom-based learning experience, DHS FIN will provide shelter staff, including case workers and shelter leadership, with practical strategies for providing financial coaching to clients and increasing client access to off-site economic services via referrals. The ongoing two-day training session will incorporate demonstrations, role-playing scenarios, and engagement activities focused on giving staff the tools to most effectively assist New Yorkers experiencing homelessness with sustainable planning for remaining stably and independently housed as they get back on their feet, including:

  • Working with clients to set financial goals;
  • Helping clients to create spending and savings plans;
  • Connecting clients to no-cost or low-cost banking services;
  • Assisting clients with reviewing and maintaining credit scores and reports;
  • Sharing strategies with clients for managing credit and debt, and;
  • Connecting clients with free financial counseling services for more in-depth assistance.

Shelter case managers will also have access to additional resources, refresher courses and financial coaching support on The Financial Clinic’s online e-learning platform, Change Machine.
“The professionals that work day-to-day to help shelter clients move toward permanent housing have challenging jobs. We are grateful for the opportunity to be involved in offering them a high-quality adult financial literacy learning and coaching program through this partnership that will ultimately further their clients’ financial security and well-being,” said John Mogulescu, Dean of the CUNY School of Professional Studies. “I am very proud of CUNY SPS’s role in this critical initiative, and look forward to supporting the important work of DHS shelter staff.”
"We are excited about this unique opportunity to scale our light-touch financial coaching to the many dedicated New Yorkers at DHS working tirelessly to secure long-term housing for their clients,” said Mae Watson Grote, Founder and CEO, The Financial Clinic. “Through this partnership, we hope to facilitate the great work already being done on the ground, accelerate its impact, and play a critical role in re-imagining what case management for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness can accomplish when integrated with financial security strategies."

“Financial literacy is a critical skill that all New Yorkers should possess, and it’s been a cornerstone priority for my administration,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “For our neighbors facing homelessness, knowing how to budget and manage issues like credit and debt is even more vital in their pursuit of long-time economic stability for themselves and their families. I thank the CUNY School of Professional Studies, The Financial Clinic, and DHS for putting together a structured, coordinated program that empowers shelter staff to empower those that they serve every day with these fundamental financial tools.”

“I want to commend The CUNY School of Professional Studies, The Financial Clinic and the New York City Department of Homeless Services on launching the DHS Financial Independence Now (DHS FIN) program,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Chair of the Public Safety Committee. “This customized program will prepare shelter staff with the necessary tools to provide adults, young adults, and adult families with economic counseling, financial literacy, effective budgeting, and access to citywide resources. Through DHS FIN, New York City will be equipping our families living in shelters with the vital tools they need to establish healthy financial futures that can lead to permanent housing, ownership opportunities, and much more. These strategic partnerships are helping shelter clients reach true financial security for a more prosperous future.”

“DHS FIN will financially empower NYC families experiencing homelessness," said Council Member Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Finance Committee.  "Now shelter staff will have the training they need to help lift these New Yorkers out of poverty and housing insecurity.  Education is a key component in our city's effort to combat homelessness, so I am pleased that the CUNY School of Professional Studies, the Financial Clinic and DHS have launched this important program."

“It’s great that the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is coming together with CUNY to create programs around financial independence for those experiencing homelessness,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “Regardless of circumstance, New Yorkers should be able to have ownership over their finances. I thank DHS and CUNY for working together to invest in these programs.”

“DHS Financial Literacy Now will be very important to the work we do and the clients we serve,” said Michelle Vaughan, a social services director at a transitional housing facility serving adult families in Queens. “This initiative will play a major role in helping our clients as they get back on their feet by providing the staff with skills to work with clients to closely assess their finances, better understand the fundamentals for budgeting and regain financial security with ease.”

About the Department of Homeless Services
The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) works to prevent homelessness before it occurs, address street homelessness and assist homeless New Yorkers in transitioning from shelter and the street to permanent housing. DHS collaborates with not-for profit partners to provide temporary shelter and services that homeless New Yorkers need to achieve and maintain housing permanency. In April 2016 Mayor de Blasio announced a major restructuring of homeless services in New York City, followed by the release of a comprehensive plan in February 2017 to turn the tide on homelessness, neighborhood by neighborhood. The plan’s guiding principle is community and people first; giving homeless New Yorkers, who come from every community across the five boroughs, the opportunity to be sheltered closer to their support networks and anchors of life in the communities they called home in order to more quickly stabilize their lives. Learn more about how DHS is turning the tide on homelessness, neighborhood by neighborhood, at

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies
Home to the first fully online degree programs at the City University of New York, the CUNY School of Professional Studies provides online and on campus programs that meet the needs of adults who are looking for a seamless way to finish a bachelor’s degree, earn a master’s degree or certificate in a specialized field, advance in the workplace, or change careers. Drawing on CUNY's renowned faculty and practitioners, as well as industry and education partners, the School's programs provide opportunities for personal growth, job mobility, greater civic participation, and new ways to advance knowledge. Learn more about the CUNY School of Professional Studies at

About the Financial Clinic
The Financial Clinic’s mission is to build working poor people’s financial security. The Clinic fulfills its mission through an ecosystem of strategies that includes direct service, capacity building with other nonprofits and systems-level solutions and social innovations to create lasting change. Its online platform, Change Machine, was built by practitioners for practitioners, and contains all the tools and resources practitioners need to address their customers’ underlying financial insecurity.  Learn more about The Financial Clinic at