Since June of 2018, the Boston Money Management Program (BMMP) at Ethos has been helping Ms. Vincent* manage her monthly finances, ensuring that her rent and essential utility bills are paid in full and on time.
When Ms. Vincent joined the program, she was experiencing some acute anxiety that made the routine tasks of monthly financial management feel overwhelming, and ultimately caused her to accrue some arrears in her rent. Over the course of the summer and fall, Ms. Vincent began working with Kitty*, a community–based volunteer who visited with her each month to guide and support her in executing these crucial processes. With Kitty’s help, Ms. Vincent was able to stay on top of her bills and budget each month, allowing her to live with peace of mind and independence in the assisted living community where she was feeling socially engaged and at home.
However, in during the winter of 2018 Ms. Vincent experienced physical health setbacks, which exacerbated her anxiety and caused her to become isolated from other residents of her assisted living community. She began making financial decisions that her income could not support, such as increased changes for meals delivered to her room, and her rental arrears grew. A spiral of anxiety, isolation and growing debt began to spin out of control. Ms. Vincent’s rental arrears grew to jeopardize her tenancy, and therein her connection to the community of residents in her assisted living complex. With the help of Kitty, Kate Bancroft, Ethos’ Boston Money Management Program Coordinator, and Ms. Vincent’s Social Worker, Ms. Vincent agreed to accept more help. This team helped Ms. Vincent reach out to her family who agreed to provide her with some modest financial support as well as their encouragement.
However, even with her family’s help, Ms. Vincent still could not afford to pay off the growing arrears. At this time Kate applied to the S.W.A.N. Society, a foundation that provides assistance to “single and widowed aged women who are able and ready to maintain their independence but lack the financial means to do so.” Grants from the S.W.A.N. Society are limited, and therefore very competitive, but Kate compelled the foundation to support Ms. Vincent’s housing. The S.W.A.N. Society generously provided the means to pay off two-third of Ms. Vincent’s arrears. Combined with her family’s support, her assisted living community was able to put in place a payment plan for the remainder of the owed funds that fits within Ms. Vincent’s monthly income –breaking the cycle of anxiety and isolation that was not only threatening her housing, but her happiness and independence. Ms. Vincent reports feeling proud to commit to paying off her remaining balance quickly but prudently. With her family encouragement and continued support from Ethos’ Boston Money Management Program, she expects to be able to celebrate being home-stabilized and debt-free by the end of this year.
The teamwork and dedication of Kate, Kitty, and Ms. Vincent’s family, with the support of the S.W.A.N. Society, has empowered Ms. Vincent with an immediate sense of increased security and a huge boost in morale; it sets her up to continue to thrive in the home and community to which she is so dedicated to remaining an active member.
To learn more about the Boston Money Management Program – to volunteer or to make a client referral – please visit https://www.ethocare.org/money-management/
*names have been changed to protect privacy