When Ricki Lowitz, founder of Working Credit, presented at Chicago Commons Guadalupano Family Day Care Center on the workings of the credit scoring system, and how to move toward financial stability by building a prime score, employee Lizette Castaneda didn’t need much convincing to sign up for further assistance.
“I already had the goal of building credit so we could buy a house,” Lizette said in a recent interview. She and her husband and two children had been renters in a building where the owner was having trouble making his mortgage payments. In jeopardy of losing the house, he had doubled their rent with no warning, adding exorbitant extra fees if they wanted to keep their dog or use the yard. Suddenly, Lizette’s family was in constant threat of eviction and had to take the owner to court. The experienced galvanized their determination to become home owners.
Lizette already had installment loans in good standing, so Working Credit’s Kristin Schell suggested she open a credit card to continue increasing her score, which was at 642. She also suggested Lizette open Working Credit’s CW-3 secured loan/savings product. After six months of credit card use and making payments on the CW-3 loan, which reports to the major credit bureaus, Lizette’s credit score was 727, and before the term of her loan ended, she qualified for a mortgage with a good rate. “The CW-3 loan gave us added credibility with the bank,” Lizette said. “It helped to have another credit-building account, which gave a great boost to my score. The counselors were so specific and their encouragement meant a lot. I’d recommend the program to anyone.”
The couple then paid off the CW-3 loan and used the $300 savings to pay bills that cropped up in the first months in their new home. “We never talked about what was going on with our landlord in front of our kids, but they knew something was wrong. We all felt the stress. The kids love the new house. They each have their own room, and we all feel so much calmer and more secure.”
Chicago Commons was able to bring the Credit Wellness Program to their child care staff thanks to a grant from the Polk Bros. Foundation.