Financial Empowerment Center Planning & Implementation

With one of the highest costs of living in the nation, families on Hawaiʻi Island struggle to afford housing, healthcare, food, transportation, childcare, and education. In addition, Hawai‘i Island has many geographic challenges, including the recent volcano eruptions, isolated rural communities, limited public transportation, and a lack of internet or cell service in some areas. To address these challenges, HACBED collaborated with the County of Hawaiʻi’s Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) to design and implement a financial empowerment strategy using the Cities for Financial Empowerment’s (CFE) Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) model of free, professional, and one-on-one financial counseling and coaching. The CFE aims to improve the financial stability of low and moderate income households by embedding financial empowerment strategies into local government infrastructure.

Two nonprofits, Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) and Hawaiʻi First Federal Credit Union (HI First) are contracted as counseling partners to provide financial coaching through the FEC on Hawaiʻi Island. HCA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, HUD-approved housing counseling agency and community lending institution that builds the capacity of low- and moderate-income communities to achieve and sustain economic self-sufficiency with a particular focus on Native Hawaiians. Hawaiʻi First, is a federally chartered credit union that focuses on empowering communities by serving “Hawaiʻi first” through exceptional financial and empowerment services to meet the needs of members and the community.

HACBED support to Hawaiʻi County OHCD and FEC counseling partners include:

  • Co-facilitation of FEC counseling partner management meetings and County to meet CFE requirements
  • Identifying and determining ongoing needs and effectiveness of the FEC and related services
  • Co-facilitation of monthly meetings with community partners to outreach FEC services, avoid duplication of services, and build partnerships for long-term FEC sustainability
  • Documenting and tracking support to meet and ensure CFE requirements are met

The FEC has launched 4 CFE certified full-time equivalent (FTE) counselors. Counselors are able to meet Hawaiʻi Island residents either virtually or in-person and build relationships, trust, and connections to ensure that residents on Hawaiʻi Island have access to free financial counseling services.