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Citizens Bank Foundation provides $5,000 grant to Champlain Housing Trust of Burlington

Funds support Ready, Set, Rent! credit counseling program

Burlington, Vt. (October 23, 2012)– The Citizens Bank Foundation announced it has provided a $5,000 grant to Champlain Housing Trust of Burlington, Vt., to support its Ready, Set, Rent! credit counseling program for rental applicants. Started two years ago, the program provides credit counseling to low- income individuals in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties who have been denied rental housing due to poor credit. The Citizens Bank Foundation also funded the first year of the program’s implementation.

“In Burlington and the surrounding communities, rental housing vacancies are virtually nonexistent,” said Chris Donnelly, Director of Community Relations at the Champlain Housing Trust. “Vacancy rates between 1 and 2 percent have led to an increase in rents even as the economy has slowed. Low-income households have few options, and those with bad credit have even fewer.

“This program provides renters with the tools to be more financially stable in the future,” Donnelly said. “We are grateful to Citizens Bank for its ongoing support of a program that helps Vermont residents obtain housing and financial literacy.”

Ready, Set, Rent! offers group education to those who are denied an apartment due to poor credit, followed by one-on-one counseling to help participants develop a personalized action plan to improve their credit and financial fitness. Once they have enrolled in the program, participants are then offered a rental apartment and continued support, including an incentive of a $100 discount on rent if they continue working with a mentor.

“Champlain Housing Trust helps those in need find affordable housing, while contributing to the economic vitality of the local communities it serves,” said Joe Carelli, President, Citizens Bank, Vermont. “The financial lessons offered in this program ensure participants will learn valuable skills that they can put into practice on a daily basis. These skills will improve their financial stability over the long term.”

In the program’s first year, 170 people attended a workshop and 150 – 88 percent – enrolled in counseling. According to Champlain Housing Trust, 60 people now have secured housing.

About the Citizens Bank Foundation
Citizens Bank Foundation is a subsidiary of the Citizens Charitable Foundation, which is a charitable contributions vehicle of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., RBS Citizens, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. The foundation’s support is focused on human services, affordable housing and economic development. RBSCFG’s website is citizensbank.com.