Financial empowerment centers open in Philadelphia

The city of Philadelphia has set up a half-dozen sites to help people deal with financial troubles. 

The financial empowerment centers will be all over — including locations in the city’s Municipal Services Building, at the Latin service organization Congreso and the Center for New Pennsylvanians.

There are too many outfits that take advantage of desperate people, said Patricia Hasson, president of Clarifi, a nonprofit credit-counseling group.

“You may be thinking you have an emergency and go to the Internet for a quick loan, one that may cost you 369 percent,” she said. “Instead, we want you to come to the center, build a savings account so that when you have an emergency you can rely on the savings that you have built up.”

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City Controller Alan Butkovitz says the centers will help the more than 200,000 Philadelphians who don’t have even a checking account.

“You can get a copy of your credit report, you can get help trying to set up a bank account,” he said Tuesday. “You can get counseling on how to get out of credit problems. It opens mainstream financial citizenship to all Philadelphians.”

Financing for the centers comes from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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