ECHO Shelter in Paso Robles celebrated its one year anniversary at the 1134 Black Oak Road location, the site of a former Motel Six.
To help clients, the ECHO Shelter in Paso Robles offers financial counseling to help people get back on their feet and work toward improving their credit score, and obtaining a permanent home.
Marcella Rodriguez, a client at ECHO since August, told KSBY, "I recently got my first credit card in the mail here, and I'm just overwhelmed because I've never had a credit card and just building my credit is going to help me in the long run.”
Shelter clients meet regularly with a counselor to work on reducing their debt and manage their finances.
Hattie Davis said of working with Rodriguez, "I have a client right now who is a single mom. She has a minimum income. She did just start employment, but her income previously while staying at the shelter was her cash, aid and disability for her son, who has autism."
Rodriguez said, “I just want enough space for me and my son to have. He wants a dog so somewhere where I can have a dog thing. I think that he loves puppies.”
Davis starts the process by taking inventory of the client's debt and then they work together to set up minimum monthly payments that the client can afford.
She said, “We just began doing this because we were running into issues where clients were getting approved for housing programs, but they weren't getting approved for actual housing through, like, management companies because their credit scores were low.”
“We talk every once a week and we just keep each other, posted an updated on what my status is. I am currently working and I'm just trying to like get my the light stable so I can, like, get myself into a place,” explained Rodriguez.
People with higher credit scores often have an easier time applying for and renting an apartment.
High scores make it easier to apply for loans and for obtaining lower interest rates.
KSBY spoke with Megan Carden, a local Wealth Advisor, who shared tips for anyone looking to improve their credit score.
She said the factors impacting a credit score are payment history - if someone pays their bills on time, how people use their credit, and what kind of credit they have.
Carden went on to explain that people can improve their credit scores by paying their bills on time - she recommending using automated payments or setting calendar reminders for due dates, only using about 30% of a person's credit limit, and checking their score.
Carden said, "It is also important to review your credit report annually to determine if there are any errors. Federal law allows you to obtain a free copy of your credit report from the three credit reporting agencies (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) every 12 month(s) from AnnualCreditReport.com."