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Helping Hispanic Americans manage finances affected by COVID-19

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Posted at 8:14 AM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 08:14:56-04

COVID-19 has impacted everyone in some way, but Hispanic Americans have been hit especially hard.

A Michigan-based non-profit is aiming to help them – and any of you needing financial help during this pandemic.

Ivon Castaneda was working at a McDonald’s in Holland, Michigan, when the pandemic hit.

“It’s hard. I lost my job,” said Castaneda.

Fortunately, she received unemployment benefits, but she and her husband have been financially strapped and living with their son during this time.

“I no make a payments in my credit cards and [it’s a] disaster in my financials. I never received money, no, for that,” she said in English. Spanish is her native language.

Then she heard about the Farmington-based GreenPath Financial Wellness.

“Hola, mi nombre es Victoria, y es mi esposo Jeff,” said a woman in a video released by GreenPath, who goes on to explain in Spanish how GreenPath helped them during this pandemic.

GreenPath created this as part of a larger marketing effort to reach Hispanic households. The reason?

A Harvard University study shows nearly 60% of Hispanic households have experienced a decline in employment income since mid-March, and nearly 20% of Hispanic homeowners have had difficulty paying their mortgage due to lost income.

“Often times Hispanic people are working in the service industry, and those jobs were hit right out of the gate – and hit very hard. And, so, it’s more difficult to recover your income if it’s not a job you can do from home,” explained Kristen Holt – CEO of GreenPath Financial Wellness.

Holt said the national non-profit and its affiliates have assisted nearly six-thousand Spanish-speaking client households whose finances have been affected by COVID-19.

GreenPath has helped 5,962 Spanish-speaking households affected by COVID-19.

“We probably have one of the highest number of bilingual, HUD-certified counselors in the country. So, we wanted to make sure that people knew that we were available, and we could do that counseling in their native language,” said Holt.

Initially, most people needed help with housing.

Through the CARES Act, Holt said you can get your mortgage put on forbearance for six months or even up to a year.

GreenPath has also helped 1,500 Hispanic households pay off $23-million in debt.

Ivon Castaneda is one of them.

After counselors helped her reorganize her finances, she found a job selling cosmetics for Mary Kay.

Now she is saving up money to buy a house. She hopes to realize her dream of home ownership soon.

To help Hispanic households avoid foreclosure and become debt free, GreenPath has resources available in Spanish.

Hispanics in need of financial counseling may also call GreenPath at 1-800-550-1961 and press “2” to speak with a Spanish-speaking counselor.

If you need help managing your money, getting out of debt, or paying your mortgage or rent, financial counselors can help you as well. You can call (800) 550-1961 or visit GreenPath’s website.