Lucy Arellano gives everyone much-needed information about program enhancements and changes for the upcoming year at MEDA.
MEDA: First off, will all MEDA programs remain free to low-income clients in 2016?
LA: All MEDA programs remain free to clients, with the exception of a couple of items that are part of the Housing Opportunities program. For those ready to purchase a home, effective January 2016, First-Time Homebuyer certificates are $50, which also includes an official credit report (this is payable as check or cash).
MEDA: What changes are there to the Financial Capability program?
LA: The Financial Capability program is the core of all MEDA asset-building services and creates sustainable, family economic success. To ensure that all clients are receiving uniform services, the new Welcome Orientation includes a full Financial Capability workshop to get clients ready for economic success from day one. To enroll in services, all clients begin with the Welcome Orientation. Then, clients are connected to one-on-one coaching with the program of their choice. Every coach also provides financial coaching focused on DISC — debt, income, savings and credit. MEDA is also now training other organizations throughout the country on Financial Capability program integration to support other low-to-moderate income, Latino communities.
MEDA: What changes are there to the Business Development program?
LA: The Business Development program is working more closely with the Adelante Fund to ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need to start or expand. Also, Business Development will start incorporating self-employment education in workshops in 2016. MEDA is focused on supporting small businesses to create more local jobs.
MEDA: What changes are there to the Housing Opportunities program?
LA: Accessing affordable housing in the Bay Area is more challenging than ever, so in addition to our Housing Opportunities program, MEDA has a dedicated Community Real Estate team. We are working hard to raise awareness in the community about affordable housing, especially below-market-rate homes for sale and rent in San Francisco. We are providing information about available residences, as well as application assistance. MEDA has also joined the National Council of La Raza’s homeownership network, to work together and utilize best practices from other organizations.
MEDA: What changes are there to the Free Tax Preparation program?
LA: Our new service coordinators will be dedicated to connecting tax clients with asset-building services. Although tax time is very important, we want to ensure that all interested clients are supported by as many additional services as possible. MEDA is dedicated to helping clients maximize their tax refunds, especially for savings and credit building.
MEDA: What changes are there to the Workforce Development program?
LA: Our in-house Mission Techies and Bilingual Bank Teller training program curriculums have been revamped, with the help of industry experts. Plus, we are continuously expanding our connections with local employers to make sure clients get into long-term career pathways. MEDA is also working closely with the Mission Promise Neighborhood network to connect parents with advancement opportunities.
MEDA: What is happening with the Adelante Fund in 2016?
LA: We are so excited that in 2015 the Adelante Fund was able to provide $215,000 in loans to small businesses to expand and create local jobs. In 2016, we will continue to build on this momentum in lending, and provide technical assistance through the Business Development program. We are also exploring opportunities to provide additional types of loans to meet the needs of our community.
MEDA: Anything else of which MEDA clients should be aware for 2016 programs?
LA: We are always looking for ways to improve and expand our programs. If anyone has any suggestions about additional services or feedback about how to better provide support to our families, please email us.
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