Financial stress is difficult enough. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, Oportun knew how important it was to support its customers and employees.
Guiding principles: Dignity and compassion
Oportun Houston locations were shut down immediately and remained closed until each could be assessed and considered safe to enter. All staff and customers were encouraged to stay at home rather than come to work or to make a payment at the risk of their personal safety.
Oportun ensured that all employees were safe, even arranging a boat to pick up one stranded in a flooded home. Then the company issued gift cards for immediate financial assistance. Oportun continued to pay wages as if employees were working their regular schedules to minimize the impact on personal budgets. Further, they provided an emergency phone number for an Oportun-sponsored program that makes referrals to free services, including counseling in case employees needed emotional support.
Oportun also set up an Employee Assistance Fund with a matching grant from Oportun to help affected employees deal with the financial impact in the long term. These funds will be available to employees in any future hardships as well.
Many of Oportun’s customers live in low-to-moderate income communities whose lives are even more vulnerable in this kind of natural catastrophe. To ease immediate stress, the company postponed payments for some Houston customers affected by the hurricane, and it waived fees for late payments. One of Oportun’s corporate values is care, where compassion and dignity have a place.
The measures Oportun took in Houston demonstrate Oportun’s commitment to community, employees and customers.