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Homeless to Housed: Denver's financial empowerment program helps a single mother's dream become reality

Denver's financial empowerment program helps a single mother's dream become reality
Denver's financial empowerment program helps a single mother's dream become reality 02:40

It's a question Marsha Brown never thought she'd have to ask.

"What do you do when you become homeless?" she questioned.

But suddenly, the single mother was living out of her car. She didn't know what to do.


"I let down my children," she told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.

Determined to create a better life, Marsha applied to live in transitional housing. It took some time, but eventually, she was in a unit in Denver's Warren Village. That's where an advocate told her to get a financial coach through a city program.

"I'm like, 'OK, ma'am, look here. I don't want to buy anything. I don't have no money.'," said Marsha.

Yet, as she'd soon learn, she wouldn't need money to get support.

"Sometimes that's the first question people ask, 'Are you trying to sell me something?'" said Jay Salas, director of the Office of Financial Empowerment and Protection.

Salas explained to CBS News Colorado that the financial support program offers one-on-one coaching and consumer protection information, all aimed at helping people decrease debt and increase savings. And – it's free.


"They can meet us once a week, once a month, once a year," Salas said. "It's all client driven, and we meet the customer where they're at. There's no judgement, no shame. It's really looking at how to change the narrative for a lot of families from generational poverty to generational wealth building, or not living paycheck to paycheck."

After a bit of hesitation, Marsha signed on. She began meeting with her financial coach for one hour every week for nearly a year, creating a plan to get her out of debt and into a home.

"I instantly started feeling valued," she said.

Within a couple years, Marsha was no longer homeless. In fact, she became a homeowner – a dream turned reality that had every bit of Marsha jumping for joy.

"Oh honey. You would've had to get balloons or something to tie my toenails down," she said with a smile.

Five years into happy homeownership, Marsha still works with her financial coach. Now, she's focused on retirement and creating generational wealth for her two kids.


"It means a lot," Marsha said. "It really means a lot to me."

And, she encourages anyone struggling to make ends meet to never be afraid to ask for help.

"I've lived it, I've walked it, I've been there," she said. "And I can tell you, it works."

LINK: Denver Financial Empowerment Center

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