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Supporters fight to keep overnight homeless parking lot



ENCINITAS — Supporters of the Safe Parking Program in Encinitas are speaking out in the wake of a lawsuit filed against the city earlier this month regarding the lot.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear said the goal of the overnight parking lot is to help people living in their cars get back into housing, and to stop the downward spiral before they fall into street homelessness.

“I see the safe parking lot, honestly, as homeless prevention, because people in their cars are not yet on the street and we don’t want them to be,” Blakespear said.

The Encinitas City Council approved the Safe Parking Program on Jan. 22.

In February, the lot opened at Leichtag Commons, a 67.5-acre property in Encinitas owned and operated by Jewish Family Service (JFS).

The space currently allows for a maximum of 25 cars from between the hours of 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. The lot is funded by a $256,000 HEAP grant awarded to JFS.

“The Safe Parking Program in Encinitas is going well and is fully enrolled, with 25 cars,” said Michael Hopkins, CEO of JFS. “Many of the participants were living and working in or very near Encinitas prior to enrolling in the Safe Parking Program and now have a safe place to stay to help maintain their employment in the area.”

JFS operates three other Safe Parking Program lots in the city of San Diego at Balboa Avenue, Aero Drive and Mission Village Drive.

Supporters Theresa Beauchamp, and husband Bob Ayers, say those lots have proven effective, with 42 percent of clients moving into permanent housing, due to its resources, tools and case managers that help families find employment, school success, financial education, credit repair and permanent housing. 

“Will it work in Encinitas? Only time will tell,” they said in a joint e-mail. “But if we don’t try, we will never know and those families will be less safe.”

The couple said the safe parking program addresses the unfortunate side of an economic reality, which is that the price of housing in Encinitas has driven educated people with good jobs to homelessness.

“We cannot pretend this is not the case,” they wrote. “We cannot pretend that we live in a different economy or in the Encinitas of the past. We can turn our backs on these folks or we can help them.”

The couple said some people are simply terrified by homeless people, “that these strangers will be using drugs, defecating in our streets and harassing our children. That is, indeed, a terrifying thought. But the safe parking program in Encinitas is clearly designed to serve a different homeless population than the one that terrifies us.”

All participants are referred by area schools, churches and other local organizations and adults are run through sex offender registries and screened for criminal records. Drugs and alcohol are not allowed on the lot.

The complaint was filed by North County Citizens Coalition, or NC3, on March 2 in Superior Court.

The group filed a complaint against the city alleging violations of the Brown Act, violations of due process, declaring a false shelter crisis, placing a homeless facility in an agricultural zone and evading CEQA and Coastal Commission requirements.

Opponents of the program believe the city has overstepped its legal authority by approving the program and ignoring the wishes of its residents. 

“We filed a lawsuit because it’s the only way we can get the city to stop what they’re doing,” Crista Curtis, a member of NC3, told The Coast News earlier this month. “They rushed it through, they did things illegally, and they need to go back and do it the right way.”

“This council has demonstrated that it does not listen to its residents,” Curtis added. “We had 200 residents show up to the council meeting in January asking for the lot to be stopped and for a better solution than sleeping in cars. (Instead) the council listened to non-resident employees or members of nonprofits and other special interest groups.”

Blakespear said cities have historically stepped back and let the county deal with the issue of homelessness, but she feels that needs to change and cities need to start doing more.

“Cities are the ones who bear the brunt of the effects,” she said. (We) need to own it and say, ‘This is something we’re working on, this is something we care about. We care about both the person who is experiencing homelessness and we care about the residents who want to experience their city streets, their city parks, free from people living and sleeping there’.”

The mayor’s “twin concerns” are the preservation of people’s quality of life and humanitarian response for people in crisis.

“Those things are not in opposition to each other, they go together, and so being committed to giving them a high quality of life and being committed to helping people who really need it, to me that is the way forward,” Blakespear said.

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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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