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January 31, 2020 - Guest: Kristine Schwarz

Topics: Being Unbanked and Unsheltered

Show Details

This week on Solutions News, we welcome Kristine Schwarz, Executive Director of New Beginnings Counseling Center, a mental health center that provides services to low-income families and individuals. When it comes to mental health, having a safe place to sleep is the first step to treatment.

But having an address is also essential to access other types of practical support - including the ability to open a checking account.  On the edge of stability, how does a person manage his or her finances? That’s a question we had too. Something as simple as cashing a check becomes increasingly difficult in an increasingly cashless society, so what is it like being unbanked in America, and what are some solutions?

According to the FDIC, cash represented only 26 percent of all payments in 2018. Likewise, unstable addresses make it even more difficult to manage finances, let alone reestablishing credit, applying for a loan, or opening an account.

In 2017, the FDIC reported that 25 percent of American households are either underbanked or fully unbanked, and there is a clear correlation between this number and homelessness.

So what are the solutions? One simple yet effective solution is a prepaid card that acts like a debit card that you can reload at common stores without the need for a bank account or a credit history. 

To beat the obstacle of not having a permanent address, an online company called iPostal1 provides a digital account to manage postal services - they help by providing a physical street address that can be used for credit card services.

To get people back under a roof, we talk about solutions including tiny houses, home for good programs, sanctuary centers, and multi-generational partnerships. We must do something now to help with homelessness, financial instability, and the oftentimes associated mental health issues.

Still, these innovative services and solutions have somewhat limited accessibility, such as internet access or membership fees. To learn about the strategies that New Beginnings has been developing for more than a decade to deal with such widespread issues, listen now!

Kristine J. Schwarz, MA, MFT, LPCC

Kristine J. Schwarz is a seasoned executive and psychotherapist who brings extensive experience building organizations and managing multi-faceted projects in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors, and considerable experience as an educator and clinician. Kristine is also a former entertainment industry executive with 13 years of experience developing film and television projects internationally. She received her MA from Antioch University Santa Barbara and has worked locally as a therapist at Domestic Violence Solutions, the COPE program at Cottage Hospital, Full Spectrum Recovery, Goleta Valley Union School District, and Working Alternatives. She maintains her psychotherapy private practice, Santa Barbara Psychotherapy.

Prior to joining New Beginnings, Kristine was Associate Director of Institutional Advancement at Antioch University Santa Barbara.  She also served as Core Faculty and Clinical Director of Antioch’s Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology Program where she founded the MFT Consortium of the Central Coast Region, and served as the Central Coast Chair of the MFT Leadership Collaborative and Chair of Antioch’s Alumni Association Steering Committee.

Kristine began her career as a media buyer in Washington, D.C., working with clients such as the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts, before moving to Los Angeles in 1987, when she joined the Walt Disney Studios. She received her undergraduate degree in Marketing and Advertising from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.


Kristine Schwarz, our guest on Jan. 31, 2020