About two years ago, Floid Tillman was just another business owner feeling the wrath of the slumping economy. Although business was slow, bills continued to pile up. As the owner of a small family-oriented boutique, Tillman had seen better days of business selling intricate hats hand-stitched on the premises by his wife, Martha Tillman.
“Business became slow and I was in search of a lower interest rate to keep my head above water,” Tillman said.
Tillman found help by literally walking across the street from his business to the Northwest Counseling Service. Michael Brown, the director of business relations at NWCS, was happy to help Tillman. “He didn’t know me from a can of paint but still always took the time to help me,” Tillman said.
NWCS was able to lower Tillman’s interest rate from 8.75 percent to 5.45 percent. His mortgage also decreased from $3,500 to $2,200 a month. After this tremendous decrease, Tillman was able to get back on his feet and enjoy his boutique and family life. “Michael Brown was an incredible guy to work with,” Tillman said. “He has helped not just me, but also many people around the neighborhood.”
Tillman said NWCS offered him and his family sincere help when they needed it most. “My family and I are so thankful for all of the organization’s time and patience,” Tillman said. “They truly went the extra mile for us whether it was making nightly phone calls to ask questions or taking me as a walk-in. They were always trying to help.”
NWCS is a non-profit organization that specializes in extending a helping hand to people experiencing financial difficulties. As pictured in the map below, NWCS has not only catered to enhancing the Logan
community, but also businesses in the surrounding neighborhoods. Brown said he believes that financial stability maintains a healthy environment for the neighborhood.
According to Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency Reports, the demand for financial help had reached the highest it had been during its 27 years of service. The PHFA stated that the demand for financial assistance increased by 25 percent since 2008.
Although there is a visible increase of financial struggle in the state of Pennsylvania, annual reports have also proved that more people are paying back the loans they owe to the agency. 55 percent of the money owed was returned during the 2009-2010 fiscal period.
As a partner to the PHFA, Northwest Counseling Service has constructed various programs to help Logan residents, as well as other surrounding areas in Philadelphia.
As of April 2, 2011, the new program, Emergency Home Owners Program was introduced. With offering up to $50,000, The Emergency Home Loaners Program can quickly pull people out of debt. The program is designed to prevent foreclosures by assisting families who are struggling with payments. This program provides loans for as long as 24 months.
The Emergency Home Owners Program is one of the many plans NWCS offers. Any homeowner that has lost income beyond their control, with a reduced income of 15 percent or more, can receive up to $50,000 in funds. “This is a wonderful program that can quickly pull people out of debt and we are happy to pursue it,” Brown said.
Brown said he feels that the main reason people in Logan are facing foreclosures is because they are not asking questions. “Opening the mail, answering the phone or asking questions are all ways residents can take the first step to preventing foreclosure,” Brown said.
NWCS also offers workshops to educate first- time homebuyers on ways to prevent foreclosure. The workshops cover many topics, some of which include the types of homes to buy and locations for free assistance. Credit counseling is also offered to those who need assistance.
In effort to increase community stability, NWCS has proudly maintained a 96 percent rate of preventing foreclosures. The organization received recognition by PHFA in 2010 with the highest award for helping residents keep their homes.
According to the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development, NWCS has maintained its reputation by being named the highest producing single agency in the country. NWCS has served as a great agency for the Office of Housing and Community Development. This is the highest recognition any agency has received in the city of Philadelphia.
For the future, NWCS plans to launch a class that will teach students what they do at the organization. “We want to stabilize the community and the environment through financial awareness and education,” Brown said.
They will continue to help not only next door neighbors such as Floid Tillman, but also any other newcomer who walks through their office doors.