June 28, 2012  |  In the News

Chronicle of Philanthropy: To Build Better Programs, Charities Must Listen to the People They Help

When Jesus and Carmen, who lived with their three children in a cramped two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, learned about a city-run program to help low-income, first-time homebuyers, they signed up right away. Before they could learn if they qualified for a loan, they were told they needed to take a financial-education class.

Arranging child care for their kids, one of whom is disabled, was not easy. Jesus rearranged his restaurant work schedule and the couple took the two-hour bus ride on weekends. It took almost two months for them to complete the eight hours of required training. Then it took two more months to get a meeting with the loan specialist. Finally, when they sat down with the specialist, it took less than five minutes to find out their income was just below the required threshold—they didn’t qualify for a loan.

This story of wasting time and money is all too common, and is not even the most egregious example of the way the social service world now leaves people feeling voiceless and frustrated.

Chronicle of Philanthropy: To Build Better Programs, Charities Must Listen to the People They Help

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