(Washington, DC)—Today, Mayor Bowser and the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) announced a new, free program to help District residents facing critical financial struggles during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. The Financial Navigators Program will connect District residents with trained Navigators by phone. Navigators will help District residents access programs and services to manage income disruptions and other financial concerns.
The Financial Navigators Program is offered through the DISB Office of Financial Empowerment and Education (OFEE). The program was made possible through an $80,000 grant from the national nonprofit Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), which is also providing significant technical assistance and training resources.
“As part of Mayor Bowser’s vision to set all District residents on pathways to the middle class, DISB is proud to offer the Financial Navigators Program,” said DISB Commissioner Karima M. Woods. “The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted our economy. The financial impact has been especially severe for DC’s most vulnerable residents. The Financial Navigators Program will help offset the negative financial impact of the pandemic by providing residents with one-on-one assessments of their financial needs and directing them to vital resources.”
The program provides guidance, online and by phone, to help District residents triage personal financial issues, identify immediate action steps to manage expenses and maximize income. The program also will refer residents to other free DISB programs related to financial hardship or planning, such as Bank on DC, Financially Fit DC, and Foreclosure Mediation, and programs available through other District agencies and non-profit partners. Financial Navigators are not long-term counselors; however, nor can they provide direct financial assistance.
“Financial distress is a primary part of the COVID-19 crisis, and we’re pleased Mayor Bowser and her team are making this a priority for District of Columbia residents,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “The Financial Navigators program will help DC residents assess and prioritize their financial concerns and get connected with the right resources.”
DISB will partner with the United Planning Organization (UPO) to administer this program.
The Financial Navigators initiative is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Citi Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the Wells Fargo Foundation.
“UPO is proud to join this effort to get DC residents back on their feet,” said UPO President/ CEO Andrea Thomas. “We’re deepening our long-term commitment to helping our neighbors thrive.”
Residents can access virtual services by calling (202) 231-7908, emailing [email protected] or by completing the web form at finnav.org/interest-dc. A staff member with the Financial Navigators Program will send a short service agreement and follow up with a phone call to begin the personal session.
The mission of the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking (DISB) is three-fold:
(1) cultivate a regulatory environment that protects consumers and attracts and retains financial services firms to the District; (2) empower and educate residents on financial matters; and (3) provide financing for District small businesses.