Financial Education Takes Veterans from Homeless to Homeowners
MAKING HOME POSSIBLE FOR VETERANS
Soldier On, a nonprofit organization that offers shelter, support and resources for unhoused veterans, has partnered with Freddie Mac to provide financial and housing education for veterans navigating civilian life.
Without the structure of active duty, many veterans are left to manage their housing and personal finances with minimal support. Coupled with high rates of mental and physical health challenges among veterans, the risk of homelessness is high without outside intervention.
Soldier On helps veterans get back on their feet by providing financial education though Freddie Mac’s CreditSmart®, a suite of learning tools that allow consumers to work toward their goals at their own pace.
CreditSmart Essentials educates consumers on the basics of personal finances, including budgeting, banking and managing credit. To provide a better understanding of their path to financial stability and homeownership, CreditSmart Military focuses more on the unique needs and challenges of veterans, service members and their families.
“If somebody feels that they’re out of options financially, I want them to understand that CreditSmart is empowering, it’s non-judgmental, it’s really encouraging,” said Maheen Qureshi, Freddie Mac’s business lead for CreditSmart.
Among Soldier On’s many success stories is Navy veteran Jim Kerrigan. Following a divorce and the tragic loss of his son, Kerrigan found himself in need of a place to live. After moving into transitional housing, Kerrigan went right to work on a lofty goal: Go from homeless to homeowner.
“I had a goal to buy a house,” Kerrigan said. “Everyone looked at me like, ‘That ain’t ever happening for you,’ but Soldier On helped me get in the right frame of mind.”
With the support of Soldier On caseworkers and a financial advisor, and fueled by his tenacity and relentless positivity, Kerrigan regained control of his personal finances. He completed the CreditSmart Essentials curriculum, opened a credit card to work on improving his credit score, and contacted his debtors to work out manageable payment plans. Before long, he was able to achieve his goal of homeownership.
“That’s what is so beneficial about the CreditSmart education program: it’s starting to provide opportunities for our veterans,” said David Ramirez, home and credit education program manager for Soldier On. “Once you start teaching that curriculum, or creating that culture, you’ll stop seeing these veterans come back to the shelter, because now they can be successful out there in the civilian life.”
Kerrigan no longer relies Soldier On for housing but remains involved in the program as a mentor and source of inspiration for veterans.
“Let me tell you, if you’ve ever relied on one of these programs, you would know how important they are,” Kerrigan said. “Soldier On has helped me so much, but we’ve got to help each other, too. I talk to these guys at least once month, and I tell them it’s possible — just get up, go to work and do the right things.”
To learn more about Freddie Mac’s commitment to supporting affordable housing and financial education, visit the Our Mission page.