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ROSEBURG — In the wake of COVID-19 and escalating economic inequity, NeighborWorks Umpqua has established a bold new way of delivering services to help low-income residents build wealth and financial resiliency.

This nonprofit organization is already well-known for DreamBuilders mutual-self-help housing and Oregon's Dream$avers matched savings program, but has been working on a new business model to position itself for growth since late 2019. As of July 1, they have officially introduced two new lines of business for consumers: A Financial Opportunity Center and a Community Development Financial Institution. 

As of May, 266,000 Oregonians have lost their jobs in an alarmingly brief period, and according to the Mortgage Bankers Association 8% of all U.S. homeowners are now at risk of losing their homes. At the same time, the federal government and the State of Oregon are poised to allocate billions of dollars in relief aid to nonprofit organizations and agencies that can help with recovery efforts.

NeighborWorks Umpqua has partnered with the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the nation's largest community development organization, to create a rural Financial Opportunity Center. This new center provides a relationship-based coaching model that will help low-income families improve their financial well-being. Three core services — financial education, income supports counseling and employment services — will provide the resources to empower underserved rural Oregonians.

"By placing the focus on empowering individuals through a coaching model, we will establish long-term relationships with our customers that promote financial stability, which in turn ignites community growth," says NeighborWorks Umpqua CEO Merten Bangemann-Johnson.

In addition to the Financial Opportunity Center, NeighborWorks Umpqua is filling a gap in anti-poverty lending services by starting up a Community Development Financial Institution. NeighborWorks Umpqua's new CDFI will offer accessible asset- and credit-building, small business loans and affordable housing development financing starting later this year.

NeighborWorks Umpqua is committed to the revitalization of distressed communities through providing access to safe and sustainable lending products that would otherwise be inaccessible to many populations in rural southwestern Oregon.

For more information, contact NeighborWorks Umpqua at info@nwumpqua.org or 1-541-673-4909.

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