New Effort Gives Hawthorne Renters a Hand Up

New programs centered on helping people save for a house or an education are taking root at Hawthorne Place Apartments in Independence.

Representatives of the Community Services League, Holy Rosary Credit Union and other groups gathered Wednesday with officials of Preservation of Affordable Housing, which owns Hawthorne Place, to dedicate a financial opportunity center. They also highlighted a program to help people save and plan for the future.

“And that’s going to help our residents increase their earnings and build their assets,” said Preservation of Affordable Housing President and CEO Aaron Gornstein.

Another program has the aim of creating a college fund for every child at Hawthorne.

“Access to higher education is one of the best ways for lower-income children to climb the economic ladder,” Gornstein said.

More than 2,000 people live at Hawthorne Place, half of them 19 or younger. It’s subsidized housing, and rent is 30 percent of a tenant’s paycheck. The more you make, the more you pay.

“So there’s a disincentive to increase your” wages, Gornstein said.

To address that, under the family self-sufficiency program, money can be set aside. Families enroll in the program for help with such things as budgeting and debt repair. Also, if the parent gets a better job, the added share that would have gone to the 30 percent for rent is instead diverted to a savings fund.

“They’re going to set their own goals and dreams over a five-year period,” Gornstein said, adding that at most Preservation of Affordable Housing properties around the country where this has been rolled out those involved have focused on a down payment for a house or further education. Read more