Mohammad Al Iman had to close the doors to his clothing store at Sunrise Mall last March when the State’s stay-at-home order went into effect. Shortly after, he had to shutter the business entirely.
The father of two had just lost his business and all his income in one fell swoop. He suddenly found himself late on mortgage payments, car payments, utility bills and needed help applying for unemployment.
Al Iman, 33, heard through his brother about the City of Sacramento’s Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), which offers free financial coaching and help accessing COVID-19 resources. Al Iman’s brother also recently utilized these services through the Sacramento Office of International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Al Iman was put in touch with Financial Coach Margeaux Fischer who reviewed his finances and helped him put a plan together to pay bills and negotiate an extension on his car loan payments. Fischer also helped him apply for unemployment and for CalFresh food benefits.
“She helped me call the bank and discuss payments, helped me understand the loans and put me in the right place so I knew what to do,” Al Iman said. “She was very helpful.”
Al Iman was unemployed for nine months, he said. He has since opened a new clothing business and continues to meet with Fischer to keep his financial health afloat.
“I feel great now,” said Al Iman.
Al Iman isn’t the only resident to get help from the City’s Financial Empowerment Center. More than 450 clients have been served since the opening last May 2020.
The FEC offers residents free one-on-one financial coaching and help navigating and applying for COVID-19 resources.
Having grown to six staff members in recent months, the FEC’s four coaches help Sacramento residents establish or improve credit, pay down debt, find free and affordable banking services, build savings and create a financial plan for long-term financial health.
The FEC’s two navigators help residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 to find and access resources such as food, public benefits, rental assistance and job training. Assistance with applications for these resources is available as needed.
“Mohammad’s story shows how dedicated the FEC’s navigators are to ensuring client’s basic needs are met,” said Amy Williamson, the City’s FEC manager. “Our financial coaches are also available to help them build long-term financial health once they are more stable after COVID-related crises.”
These services have no income restrictions and are free. Navigation is available in English, Spanish and Arabic, with coaching available in English and Spanish. Interpretation in other languages is available upon request.
Core financial support for the FEC comes from Citi Community Relations, the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund and the City of Sacramento.
All services offered through the FEC are free. Please note that while the Financial Empowerment Center does not directly provide cash assistance, staff can help eligible clients access local, state and federal resources as they are available.