Housing Counselor, Crystal Walker, facilitates monthly First Time Home Buyers Class
United Communities Southeast Philadelphia’s Client Services Department is comprised of two services designed to strengthen family stability within our community. The point of entry for services is through the BenePhilly Center, where a Benefit Access Counselor screens clients for public benefits and helps complete appropriate applications such as SNAP, Medicaid, CHIP, TANF, LIHEAP, LOOP/Homestead Exemption, FAFSA, Pace/PaceNet, and Property Tax/Rent Rebate. In addition to ensuring all entitlement programs are applied for, this branch of the department can also assist with utility emergencies through a number of programs available at multiple levels such as: Utility Emergency Service Fund (UESF), PGW, PECO and PWD Low-income Payment Agreement Program, Emergency Food & Shelter Program (EFSP) and others. We also conduct energy conservation workshops to help reduce overall energy consumption.
During the intake process, counselors conduct an assessment to determine if household issues are being met and if needed, external referrals are made. These referrals include food, clothing, case management, child care, after-school programs and rental assistance. Since the beginning of our fiscal year, we have submitted 600 public benefits applications, distributed over 11,000 pounds of food help to combat hunger for 650 individuals, and provided many articles of clothing to over 100 members of the community. Additionally, we have made over 75 referrals to various external agencies to provide solutions for our families in crisis.
The second branch of this department is Housing. Counselors assist potential first-time home buyers with the entire home buying process to ensure that they are getting the best possible loan for their financial situation. This includes providing an educational workshop where the different components of the home buying process are explained in detail. Foreclosure prevention is another area where our services have proven to be vital for clients facing this issue. Counselors, along with the client, determine what the best option to retain ownership of their property is through a variety of possible alternatives such as a loan modification, repayment plan, homeowner emergency mortgage assistance programs, financial assistance and more. Lastly, we assist with both credit counseling and loan programs for renovations or remedies to make a home more energy efficient. Through the efforts of the Clients Services Department’s Housing program, we were able to assist 13 families to purchase their first homes and 20 families stay in their homes through foreclosure prevention measures.
We look forward to expanding our impact through outreach and partnership with other agencies. If you would like to schedule a workshop or host a benefit screening at your establishment please contact Liz White, Intake Specialist at 215 468-1645 ext. 200 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.