August 28, 2011
Debt Freedom for Haitian Americans Featured on National PBS

Haitian American Graduate of Moving from Debt to Assets Class

Amidst this summer’s national debt crisis inflated by partisan politics, most Americans have faced a debt crisis of their own.  New immigrant groups, including Haitians pursuing the American dream, easily become strangled by American debt in a society where one-third of all wealth is controlled by only 1% of the people and the other 99% increase borrowing to make up for stagnating wages or job loss, according to a recent PBS series.  The series “Making Sense — Economic Inequality” highlighted a successful program funded by the Haiti Fund at the Boston Foundation, which helps low-income immigrants conquer their debt. 

 

Moving from Debt to Assets teaches basic financial literacy to recent immigrants from Haiti, Somalia, Cape Verde, and elsewhere and illustrates “the link between the tremendous burden of debt facing average Americans and the growing inequality of wealth.  Both are connected to the economic crisis we are currently facing,” explained Program Director Joel Schwartz. Celebrating it’s fifth anniversary and 36 classes, Moving from Debt to Assets, a program of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, has trained hundreds of Haitians in their native language.  Two new classes will be taught in Haitian Creole this September in Mattapan and Somerville, MA drawing from members of eight referring churches.

 

Moving from Debt to Assets teaches budgeting, savings, and debt repayment to low-income immigrants — some who arrive with limited education — to liberate them from debt.  Many Haitians in the Boston area have been severely economically impacted by the Haitian earthquake and have incurred greater debt, whether by losing family homes and collateral on the island, taking in earthquake refugees airlifted after the disaster, or doubling cash sent as remittances to struggling relatives in Haiti.  

 

For a video of the PBS newscast analyzing the gaping economic equality in America:   http://video.pbs.org/video/2097386046

 

For more about the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization see www.gbio.org and about grants from The Haiti Fund see http://www.bostonfoundation.org/Content.aspx?ID=15210.