PALM BEACH – The Urban League of Palm Beach County is carrying on Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision to help eradicate poverty in the black community. The organization provides a variety of services to help families to improve their quality of life, with obtaining adequate housing at the core.

Patrick Franklin, president and CEO of the ULPBC, said assisting families with improving their housing has a ripple effect on other aspects of their lives, including employment, starting their own business and creating and building wealth.

“We help them to maintain the dollars that they earn,” he shared.

The Financial Empowerment Center is a ULPBC program that is producing positive results. The three-year old program’s goals for families include:

  • Increase financial literacy and capability
  • Develop an overall financial plan for the future
  • Obtain steady employment
  • Develop and maintain a household budget
  • Eliminate use of high cost alternative financial services
  • Establish or improve credit score
  • Increase income
  • Reduce debt
  • Create long term financial plans to build wealth and assets
  • Behavior change

According to Lydia Callender, program coordinator, the program has enrolled 345 families into the program, all of whom have been assisted with setting financial goals and developing a household budget. A key function of the program is helping families to increase their financial literacy and capability. Half of the participants who were previously unemployed have gained employment. Seventy-five percent of the families have reduced their debt and 150 have improved their credit scores significantly.

The program has helped to save 65 families’ homes from foreclosure and ten participants have purchased homes. In an effort to help its clients to embrace the organization’s core financial vision of home ownership, 22 participants have become mortgage ready and are in the process of purchasing a home. Entrepreneurship is also a key focus of the FEC, with four participants having started their own businesses.