Services offered in our STEP (Striving Towards Economic Prosperity) Centers encourage people to achieve and sustain self-sufficiency by overcoming barriers to employment, increasing income, and promoting behaviors that lead to self-reliance.
MAAC’s STEP Centers offer centralized, comprehensive services based on a counseling social services model to promote economic prosperity by creating pathways to financial stability.
Services are based on a three-pronged approach:
- Overcoming barriers to employment:
· Connecting to resources such as Cal-Works
· Résumé and interview coaching
· Access to vocational training programs
· Referrals to immigration assistance
- Enhancing income and/or employment:
· Securing unemployment benefits during job search
· Weatherization program referrals
· Referrals to emergency assistance such as food and shelter
· Access to free or low-cost medical insurance
· Free income tax preparation
- Promoting behaviors that lead to financial stability:
· Assistance opening bank accounts
· First-time homebuyer education
· Comprehensive credit counseling
· Foreclosure prevention counseling
The STEP Program is accessed by consumers in one of three ways: at an integrated STEP Center housed at a MAAC Affordable Housing site; through participation in another MAAC program; or, via referral from a community partner. While services are offered equally regardless of entry point, eligibility to actually receive benefits may be provider-specific.
It is critical within the STEP Program to help address the behavioral challenges that are often seen within low- to moderate-income communities. The comprehensive services offered by the STEP Program address much more than simple budgeting challenges: by addressing the context within which individuals make financial decisions, a process of breaking down the assumptions behind personal choices, assumptions and habits occurs. This is the ultimate behavioral goal of the program that leads participants to achieve economic stability.
Currently, integrated STEP Centers are available at five MAAC Affordable Housing sites throughout San Diego County: Laurel Tree (Carlsbad), Mercado (Barrio Logan), President John Adams Manor (Bayshore), San Martin de Porres (Spring Valley) and Seniors on Broadway (Chula Vista). As indicated above, the STEP Program is also implemented within the context of other MAAC Programs, particularly those focusing on workforce development such as SWITCH, a vocational healthcare training program.