Does buying a house seem out of reach for you? Anna Jackson-Hill’s $15,000 salary is not stopping her. With the help of SparkPoint Oakland, a United Way financial education center, Anna has rebuilt her credit and is slowly saving for a home.
Anna first came to SparkPoint because she heard she could get free tax preparation. H&R Block was going to charge her $300 to get her return done – $300 that she knew she couldn’t afford.
Turns out, getting connected with SparkPoint was a life-changing experience. After receiving a $500 tax refund, Anna got connected with Jesse, a SparkPoint financial coach, who introduced Anna to a world of resources to help her get on her feet.
First, Anna dealt with her poor credit. Jesse pulled her credit report and noticed there was some incorrect information. Together, they called the credit card company, and sent letters to the credit reporting bureaus. With persistence, Jesse helped Anna clean up her report, buoying her credit score. Anna also attended SparkPoint credit management workshops and learned how to improve her credit. Today, her credit score is 80 points higher – important progress toward obtaining a mortgage loan.
“Having good credit is like a badge of honor,” said Anna. “You don’t have to make a lot of money, you just need to be responsible. And now when I apply for things, and they tell me I need to have impeccable credit, I say, ‘I got that!’”
Anna is now saving and augmenting what she puts into the bank with matched-savings programs that Jesse suggested. SparkPoint Oakland connects customers with several matched-savings programs that can help them save money to buy a home, pay for education, or start a business.
“I don’t want a fancy house, just something I can come home to and say is mine,” said Anna. “If your dreams have anything to do with money, you can reach your goals with SparkPoint.”
According to Jesse, the key to Anna’s success is that she is taking advantage of SparkPoint’s bundled services.
“Receiving a range of services all in one place makes it easier for people like Anna to make progress on their goals,” said Jesse. “It’s more than just convenient – it allows us to see the big picture and make sure that we’re giving her the extra support and resources she needs to feel confident.”
United Way currently has eight Sparkpoints around the Bay Area, serving as one-stop financial help centers. Residents have access to a full range of services, including one-on-one financial coaching, workshops, and a wide variety of community programs.
In only two short years, SparkPoint has helped more than 2,500 people. For more information, go to www.sparkpointcenters.org.