A Financial Safety Net for Ossining Residents
Established in 2004, the Ossining Micro Fund (OMF) offers no-interest loans up to $2,500 for Ossining community members who encounter financial challenges.
OMF exists to prevent financial challenges from devastating lives and to ensure Ossining residents have crucial financial support when they need it most.
There are many hard-working Ossining residents who live paycheck to paycheck. This stems from the nationwide problem of earnings barely covering basic living expenses. In addition, a lack of financial literacy often leads to high-interest debt that becomes unmanageable. While this occurs locally, it is also true nationally.
America is a wealthy country by measurements such as the stock market or gross domestic product. Yet uneven distribution of wealth is at a historic high - some 28% of households have annual income below $35,000.
OMF is able to provide financial relief without charging interest
Most common uses of OMF loans:
Personal Financial Counseling
Before OMF extends a loan, applicants are required to work with a member of our team to complete a detailed budget worksheet (Spanish/English). This helps applicants approach their finances realistically and it also enables OMF to determine a manageable monthly loan repayment plan. We also educate applicants about the real costs of high interest debt. Unfortunately, too many often elect to pay the minimum monthly payment on credit card debt. Which results in carrying a balance at high interest rates for an extended period. We find at the OMF one of the most effective recommendations we provide to loan recipients is to retire the most expensive debt first - usually credit cards.
Financial Literacy Workshops and Bulletins
Through personal counseling with applicants and our Financial Literacy Workshops and Bulletins, we also talk about the real costs of high interest debt. Unfortunately, too many have high APRs and pay the minimum monthly payment on credit card debt. We find one of the most effective recommendations we provide to loan recipients and others is to retire the most expensive debt first - usually credit card debt.
Connecting Residents with Other Community Resources
In addition to providing loans, we connect loan applicants with our Partners and other resources provided by Ossining, Westchester County, and New York State. We help them navigate the wide array of programs and services that serve individuals and families to improve their education, health, and housing or other programs that will ease the burden of expenses such as diapers. We aim to provide as much assistance as possible to everyone we encounter.
We Pay it Forward
The OMF is a revolving fund.
First, donors provide us with the capital to extend loans. Then recipients repay the loans, thereby replenishing the initial capital and making it available for future applicants. In this sense, recipients "pay it forward" when they repay their loan.
As a steward of the generous donations from our supporters, it is an important discipline for us organizationally to be repaid for loans. For the individual recipients, it is also important for them to develop good habits by sticking to their budget and responsibly paying back credit.