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Uptick in requests for financial counseling services

More North Dakotans have been reaching out for financial assistance services - and many of them are getting counseling online.

Tina Anim is program manager at the Village Family Service Center. She says the pandemic did initially cause a slowdown in requests for services - but now that benefits have run out and not been renewed, they are seeing an increase. She says due to COVID-19, most people are opting for online or phone counseling services.

"Typically - looking at 2019 numbers - about 30 percent of our appointments were online. Now it's shifted the other way, to 48 percent of our appointments being online."

Anim says the pandemic has affected different people in different ways; some people have lost jobs, while others had their hours cut back. She says still others report an uptick in expenses due to more time being spent at home. She says one of the biggest impacts of lost benefits will be those folks who hadn't experienced inability to pay living expenses suddenly finding themselves in that position. But Anim says no matter the situation, no one should feel ashamed to reach out for help.

"I know with all of this, what we are seeing also is people don't want to deal with the financial aspects - but that's what our credit counselors are here for, to help you deal with the complexity of the financial situation you are in, and taylor make a solution for you. At the very least, if they cannot help you, they can connect you to other resources in our community that can help."