Last week, District 1 Pittsburgh City Councilor Darlene Harris launched a series of financial education seminars. The series was inspired by the number of individuals throughout the city who, for whatever reason, are unable to access traditional banking institutions. According to Harris' office, dependence on non-traditional institutions like check-cashing places keep citizens from taking full advantage of what the city has to offer.
"I have noticed throughout my district that many people have difficulty getting basic services such as checking accounts or college-saving plans and have to rely on check-cashing places and such, putting themselves at a disadvantage financially," Harris says.
The first seminar on banking and saving, where residents learned about second chance checking accounts for those with a negative banking history, was held March 24 with support from PNC and Citizens banks. Another session on home buying, where attendees learned about improving their credit score and state programs for first-time home buyers, took place last evening with Advantage Credit Counselors and the PA Housing Finance Agency. The final session on taxes will be April 7.
"I had my staff person Jeff [Martin] identify partners who wanted to work with us on improving financial education in the district," says Harris. "We found partners ranging from banks, to credit and housing finance. We even managed to bring on board Paul Leger, the city’s finance director who will be at our taxes portion of the seminars on April 7th."
Despite being held at the Carnegie Library in the North Side, the seminars have been open to all city residents.