By Business Wire, March 18, 2013, 04:33:00 PM EDT
"Virtual Counselor Network" Transforms Professional Housing Counseling for Low-to-Moderate Income Communities in San Diego and the Inland Empire
Developed by the Housing Opportunities Collaborative and supported by
Citi Community Development, new network provides access to 1-on-1
counseling and technical assistance.
SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
A network of strategically located stand-alone computer terminals
stretching 150 miles from San Diego to San Bernardino will transform
access to professional housing counseling and other services ranging
from foreclosure prevention to tax preparation and credit counseling
through an innovative Virtual Counselor Network (VCN).
The 10-terminal VCN will cover San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino
counties. It will be operated by the San-Diego based Housing
Opportunities Collaborative (HOC) with the support of a $200,000 grant
from Citi Community Development. The computer terminals will be placed
in a variety of easily accessible locations in San Diego and across the
The HOC's goal in establishing the network is to increase access to a
diverse array of community services and resources for all populations,
especially low income and underserved individuals and families in San
Diego and the Inland Empire. Aligned with HOC's commitment is the
development of the technology and infrastructure to connect low to
moderate income and rural communities to a Virtual Counselor at
participating agencies via the Internet. Additional resources will be
leveraged among the network of agencies to offer a virtual "one-stop"
array of services, eliminating the need to travel to multiple locations.
"Citi's support for the innovative Virtual Counselor Network provides
San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino County residents with access to
technology and specialized counseling services that are often not widely
accessible through traditional counseling centers, via technology or in
their communities," said Bob Annibale, Citi's Global Head of Community
Development. "Ensuring universal access, but particularly for low income
and underserved communities, to housing, tax and credit counseling
through the Virtual Counselor Network and the Housing Opportunities
Collaborative will empower individuals with valuable advice and
information in multiple languages, including English and Spanish, on
available services that can be critical when planning and making
household financial decisions."
According to DataQuick, current research shows that 8,000 homeowners
across the affected area have received foreclosure notices in recent
months, while 16.2 percent are unemployed and another 16 percent live
below the poverty line as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau - American
"As nonprofit organizations find new ways to use technology to help more
people, I believe this program will empower our local communities and
provide innovative solutions to help meet the diverse needs of residents
throughout the region," said San Diego City Council President Todd
"Through our partnership with Citi, we will have the opportunity to
utilize technology to provide timely, relevant and sustainable solutions
to problems facing our communities," says Housing Opportunities
Collaborative President & Executive Director Appaswamy "Vino" Pajanor.
"At the same time, we will achieve a triple bottom line benefit through
the VCN by helping more residents access diverse services faster,
minimizing the travel time and lowering the costs for nonprofit service
providers to serve more customers."
Local residents and homeowners can learn more and access the Virtual
Counselor Network now at www.VirtualCounselorNetwork.org.
About the Housing Opportunities Collaborative
The Collaborative is a tax exempt non-profit organization consisting of
HUD approved housing counseling and fair housing agencies, housing
related nonprofits and business organizations, and governmental agencies
that support all aspects of housing rights and responsibilities. The
Collaborative serves as an information clearinghouse by consolidating
housing related information and making it easily accessible to the
public and partners. The Collaborative also acts as a clearinghouse for
its partners by conducting outreach events to educate and provide
housing counseling services to the public. The Collaborative also
conducts capacity building workshops and training for its partners in
order to standardize counseling.
About Citi Community Development
Citi Community Development (CCD) is leading Citi's commitment to achieve
economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families
and communities by expanding access to financial products and services,
and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships.
Our focus areas include: commercial and philanthropic funding;
innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with
institutions that expand access to financial products and services for
low-income and underserved communities. For more information, please