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 Inland Empire.
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.”