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Moving Out, Moving On: What’s Gained And Lost In A Move From Public Housing | News



For a long time in Cleveland, more families have wanted to move into public housing than out. The waiting list to get an apartment through the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) stood at 19,000 people as of 2018.

But people do move out of public housing all the time. After 14 years in public housing, Kisha Nixon is one of them.

She has only lived in her four-bedroom, gray-and-white bungalow in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood on Cleveland’s Southeast side for about a month. 

On a recent afternoon, as Nixon walks through the rooms — sunroom here, walk-in closet there — she has a look on her face like she’s still discovering the place. As if she’s not entirely sure what she might find around the corner, but she likes what she sees.

“I loved it from the first time I saw it. It looks small, but it’s actually long, ’cause it goes all the way back and beyond that room right there,” she said, gesturing toward a storage area and mud room fronting a large backyard.

Getting here, to this quiet neighborhood of tidy front lawns and sociable front porches, has been a years-long journey for Nixon. She first applied for public housing in 2003, after losing her job at a daycare and still having young children of her own to support.

After waiting two years — about average, according to CMHA — she got an apartment at the King Kennedy public housing complex, east of Downtown Cleveland. Getting that apartment helped her out at a time she really needed it, she said. Her rent and utilities were both covered, and as her kids got older, she landed a part-time job with CMHA, doing custodial work and staffing the front desk at the Woodhill Homes Community Center up the street.

Twenty hours a week of steady work gave her days a structure she liked, she said, and some income of her own. But that income also had a consequence she wasn’t expecting.

“Once you reach a certain income, your rent goes up,” she said. “So I’m paying rent, I’m paying light, telephone, cable.”

More income, more rent

That’s the national standard in public housing. As residents’ income goes up, so does their rent — to up to 30 percent of wages, after deductions. Residents with jobs also typically pay their own utilities.

Nixon said while it makes sense that people should start paying more of their own expenses once they start working, all the new bills ended up being high enough that she felt a little worse off financially with a job than without one.

“I’m like, ‘OK, gotta learn to budget this’,” she remembers. “‘So we’re not gonna do this or we’re not gonna buy this’.”

Kisha Nixon stands in front of her rental house in Cleveland.

Kisha Nixon recently moved into this rental house after 14 years in public housing. [Justin Glanville / ideastream]

She said she might have quit her job if she hadn’t heard about a program, run by CMHA with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and aimed at addressing the very dilemma she was facing. Called the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, it lets residents who start working put the increased rent they owe into an escrow savings account.

Participants set goals for themselves. After completing a certain number of workshops and classes on topics like home ownership and credit repair, they graduate. And the money accumulating in escrow becomes theirs to do with as they please.

Nixon set the goal of getting a full-time job. A couple years later, she now has one, working maintenance and driving a shuttle bus for a local hospital.

Ending a cycle

At first, even with the new job, she didn’t have any plans to move out of CMHA. She was happy in her unit, which was relatively new and in a quiet part of town.

But then she started thinking more space could be nice. A bit of a yard. And most of all, she thought about her three kids, two in high school, one in middle school.

“I don’t want it to be a cycle,” she said. “I don’t want them to think, like, because I stay there they have to. Like that’s what they limited to.”

They love the new place so far, Nixon said, and like showing it off.

“Down [in public housing, it was] ‘Oh, can you take me to my friend’s house,'” she said. “Now it’s, ‘Oh, my friend’s coming over’.”

A portrait shows Kisha Nixon's children.

Nixon’s three children have been happier since moving, she said. [Justin Glanville / ideastream]

But her own feelings about leaving public housing are more complicated than that, Nixon said.

“It helped me when I needed it and it also helped me see that I don’t want it again,” she said. “So I gotta do what I gotta do to make sure that we don’t end up back there.”

Asked what would be bad about returning to public housing, she just shakes her head.

“It wouldn’t be bad,” she said. “But it would be like I’m going backwards and I don’t want to go backwards.”

Except in one respect.

She goes back to visit her old neighborhood all the time. Some of her best friends live there, she said — the people who supported her when she most needed it. That sense of community is one she said no house, no matter how nice or how much her own, will soon replace.

This story is part of ideastream’s two-year reporting project about the past, present and future of Cleveland’s Woodhill Homes public housing development.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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