Partners for Financial Freedom

July 9, 2020

posted by Rebekah Shackelford & Rebekah Swank

There’s no doubt that right now, financial security and housing stability are top of mind for a lot of our neighbors. More than ever, our families need an advocate in their community who can offer resources and connections to help them achieve lasting independence.

CHWC has been working to improve the services we can offer in the homeownership program. To bring better opportunities to more families each year, we have long worked with partner organizations who share our community and share our mission.

One such partner is Credit & Homeownership Empowerment Services (CHES, Inc.). CHWC and CHES recently finalized a partnership that will allow both organizations to empower more families every year.

What is CHES?

CHES is a HUD-approved nonprofit that specializes in financial, credit, and homeownership empowerment services. Founded during the 2008 – 2012 financial crisis by current leaders, Ron Farmer and Coley Williams, CHES has since grown to provide a wide range of counseling and education services. Their goal is for low- and moderate-income families and individuals to obtain the knowledge and confidence they need to establish a firm financial future that is wholly their own.

Coley and Ron share a background in small business, mortgage, and real estate. While working in these industries, they observed that low- and moderate-income families in urban areas did not have ready access to financial education or affordable mortgage products. Over time, this meant that some families would be less likely to accumulate enough wealth to send their kids to college, invest in retirement, or prepare for personal or financial crises. Determined to become a part of the solution, Ron and Coley set off to help bridge the gap.

A CHES Success Story

Over the last ten years,  Coley and Ron have repeatedly seen the impact of their work. Ron says that they are shocked how often clients say things like: “I never thought I would own a home,” or “I never thought I would be able to recover from so much debt!”

One story he finds particularly impactful is about a customer of theirs who was in danger of losing her home. She lived alone and wasn’t able to do the repairs necessary to get proper insurance on the property, so CHES helped advocate for her with the mortgage company. She was able to keep her home, and CHES connected her with another organization that could provide minor home repair services.

Common Mission & Common Mindset

While CHES and CHWC share a desire to empower families to financial freedom and lasting homeownership, they also share a commitment to collaborate with other organizations to make a deeper impact. CHES, for example, does not offer minor home repair services, but when a customer needs to make repairs on their home, CHES refers that customer to a partner in the community with the expertise to get the job done right.

Similarly, CHWC  has now formed this partnership with CHES in order to share knowledge, connections, and geography, ultimately allowing both nonprofits to serve more customers more efficiently and with a higher quality of service.

Working Together for Wellbeing

CHES and CHWC leadership first met at a networking event, and quickly realized how well their missions aligned. Over time, they worked to develop a partnership in which CHES would help manage CHWC’s Homeownership program to expand its capacity, impact, and efficiency.

The partnership spans the state line, meaning individuals and families looking for financial and homeownership services will have “no wrong door” to go to regardless of which part of the city they call home. The two nonprofits also have different areas of expertise: CHES in breadth of services and homeownership program management, and CHWC in the construction of high-quality homes affordable to families of all income levels. By sharing their resources, they’ll be able to serve more customers with stronger program offerings.

Currently, Coley and Ron are working with CHWC Homeownership program staff during a two-way listening and discussion period to gather information about CHWC’s current practices and policies. Some of the goals CHES has set for improving the Homeownership program include making communication and reporting easier, which will allow staff like housing counselors to spend more time with customers, and provide CHWC with the best tools possible for the program.

If you or one of your customers wants to learn more about attaining financial freedom or becoming a homeowner, we encourage you to sign up for a free one-on-one counseling session today! 

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