Skip to main content

News items

Students who lose financial aid are more likely to drop out, study says

By Donna Tam, Marketplace

http://www.marketplace.org/2016/11/01/education/students-who-lose-financial-aid-are-more-likely-drop-out-study-says

Financial Predators Beware

from the New Haven Indpendent

NOTE THE WEBSITE MENTIONED BELOW:  www.newhavenfinancialempowerment.com

 

Michelle Liu Photo

Michelle Liu Photo

Stacy Downer: Took money concerns into her own hands.

Working at a check-cashing outlet, Stacy Downer noticed that customers were being ripped off — so she gave them different advice.

She saw vendors lining up to peddle goods right outside of her workplace on paydays. She realized that customers weren’t receiving advice tailored to their financial situations.

So Downer took matters into her own hands, offering free tax services, clipping coupons and encouraging customers who entered the doors to pay their bills on time. She even started holding cash behind the counter for customers, as a sort of renegade bank account system.

“No bank ever asked them what’s going on,” Downer said.

Downer’s own journey to becoming fiscally responsible had its own ups and downs. Having never been taught how to manage her finances, she didn’t even pay taxes for three straight years, she said. But eventually, Downer recognized the pitfalls of living paycheck to paycheck.

“I just didn’t want this to be the inheritance I was leaving my children,” said Downer.

Needless to stay, her career didn’t last much longer at the cash-checking outlet. Now she gets paid to give good advice to people who sometimes live paycheck to paycheck, through a job with the New Haven MOMS Partnership.

And Downer can carry on her mission as a self-appointed advocate of financial literacy through a series of the initiatives the city will undertake to empower low-income New Haven residents out of a social-services and small-business-assistance outpost in the Dixwell neighborhood called the New Haven Opportunity Center, where MOMS has an office.

At a press conference Thursday morning, members of the city’s Financial Empowerment Commission, launched by Mayor Toni Harp in March, convened there to reveal a set of recommendations they’ll work to realize over the next few months.

The city will offer tools like an interactive website that provides residents with guides on banking/credit union options, budgets, housing and debt.  Likewise, the city will bolster resources already available at the Opportunity Center, launched in July at 316 Dixwell Ave., by offering financial classes and one-on-one counseling there, with the help of people like Downer.

City Community services Administrator Martha Okafor noted that these new services will become part of the New Haven Financial Empowerment Center, which itself will be folded into the Opportunity Center. What this means is that residents can continue to use the location as a “one-stop shop” for information and access to different social services.

The network of city and state agencies and not-for-profit organizations working on the commission hope to build up residents’ fiscal savvy, focusing on a couple of target populations: low-wage households earning 100 to 200 percent less than federal poverty guidelines, and the formerly incarcerated.

With these new resources, residents might improve their credit scores and pad their savings accounts while reducing debt, commission members stressed.

 

The commission’s work was spurred by a grant New Haven received in 2015 from the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund —  one of five awarded to a “vanguard of cities” alongside San Jose, Oakland, Shreveport and Boston, said fund CEO Jonathan Mintz (pictured).

Mintz admitted that while the name of the grant may not be the catchiest, the fruits of its labor will be tangible. He said this model of financial empowerment is a proven model that has reduced millions of dollars in debt for people across cities running similar initiatives.

“If the Chicago Cubs can win the World Series, we can do this,” commission member and vice president of programs and Easter Seals Goodwill Joseph Parente said.

FDIC Launches Financial Services Website in Spanish

   

En Español

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) today launched a new Spanish-language website with links to the agency's available resources in Spanish as the nation observes Hispanic Heritage Month.

The new website, "Recursos para Consumidores en español," features links to webinars and video presentations that cover topics such as deposit insurance, consumer protection, and the FDIC's Money Smart education program. The FDIC continues its work to expand the resources available in Spanish so that both Hispanic consumers and the community-based organizations that serve them can learn more about the benefits of a banking relationship, including consumer protections and deposit insurance. Spanish-language video presentations highlight to the Hispanic community the importance of learning and understanding how the U.S. financial system works.

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15.

Shelterforce Magazine focus on Financial Well-Being

The Summer 2016 issue of Shelterforce that focuses on *Financial Well-Being* is now online (see below).

As you can see, there is a wide range of articles, from tax code and FICO scores, to income volatility and children’s savings account. And if you’re working on community revitalization you’ll be especially interested the article on the catalytic power of art.

The full issue is available at www.shelterforce.org/archive/issues/183/ 

The articles include:

In Pursuit of Financial Well-Being: A Conversation on Fairness, Accessibility, and Empowerment.   Interview by Miriam Axel-Lute and Harold Simon 

Is Financial Unsteadiness the New Normal? By Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider

The Ripple Effects of Income Volatility By Joanna Smith-Ramani and David Mitchell

Fighting for Fulltime Work Hours with the Opportunity to Work Initiative By Pablo Nervaez

Challenging the Almighty Credit Score By Lillian M. Ortiz

Children’s Savings Accounts Can Change Expectations For Low-Income Students By Miriam Axel-Lute

Financial Inclusion Begins With Our Tax Code By Keli A. Tianga

Why Financial Education Should Get Political By Rosalyn Epstein

The Catalyzing Power of Art By Tamara E. Holmes 

Interview: Sheila Crowley, Past President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition Interview by Miriam Axel-Lute and Harold Simon

Getting Beyond the Developer Fee By Jake Blumgart and Miriam Axel-Lute

Getting New Jersey to Divest from Payday Lending By Shawn Aiken

Book Review: What It’s Worth— Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities and the Nation By Dave Snyder

The Answer: Why Don’t Low-Income Families Save?

Be sure to look for our next issue that focuses on equitable economic development.

Millions in U.S. Climb Out of Poverty, at Long Last

From the New York Times 9/26/16

Not that long ago, Alex Caicedo was stuck working a series of odd jobs and watching his 1984 Chevy Nova cough its last breaths. He could make $21 an hour at the Johnny Rockets food stand at FedEx Field when the Washington Redskins were playing, but the work was spotty.

Today, Mr. Caicedo is an assistant manager at a pizzeria in Gaithersburg, Md., with an annual salary of $40,000 and health benefits. And he is getting ready to move his wife and children out of his mother-in-law’s house and into their own place. Doubling up has been a lifesaver, Mr. Caicedo said, “but nobody just wants to move in with their in-laws.”

The Caicedos are among the 3.5 million Americans who were able to raise their chins above the poverty line last year, according to census data released this month. More than seven years after the recession ended, employers are finally being compelled to reach deeper into the pools of untapped labor, creating more jobs, especially among retailers, restaurants and hotels, and paying higher wages to attract workers and meet new minimum wage requirements.

“It all came together at the same time,” said Diane Swonk, an independent business economist in Chicago. “Lots of employment and wages gains, particularly in the lowest-paying end of the jobs spectrum, combined with minimum-wage increases that started to hit some very large population areas.”

Poverty declined among every group. But African-Americans and Hispanics — who account for more than 45 percent of those below the poverty line of $24,300 for a family of four in most states — experienced the largest improvement.

Government programs — like Social Security, the earned-income tax credit and food stamps — have kept tens of millions from sinking into poverty year after year. But a main driver behind the impressive 1.2 percentage point decline in the poverty rate, the largest annual drop since 1999, was that the economy finally hit a tipping point after years of steady, if lukewarm, improvement.

Declining Poverty

For the first time since the recession began, the poverty rate fell substantially in 2015. The number of people living under the poverty line declined by about 3.5 million, with every major demographic group benefiting from a stronger economy and an expanding job market. For all the improvement, though, poverty remains deeply entrenched, particularly among African-Americans and Hispanics, and is more prevalent in the South and Southwest.

Over all, 2.9 million more jobs were created from 2014 to 2015, helping millions of unemployed people cross over into the ranks of regular wage earners. Many part-time workers increased the number of hours on the job. Wages, adjusted for inflation, climbed.

“Another hidden benefit was lower prices at the pump,” Ms. Swonk said. “People who couldn’t afford the commute before could now afford to accept a minimum-wage job.”

There are different roads out of poverty, said Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation, a social science research institution, but today, one of the most promising is to “go somewhere where they raised the minimum wage.”

About 43 million Americans, more than 14 million of them children, are still officially classified as poor, and countless others up and down the income ladder remain worried about their families’ financial security. But the Census Bureau’s report found that 2015 was the first year since 2008, when the economic downturn began, that the poverty rate fell significantly and incomes for most American households rose.

“If you look under the hood of the census report,” Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the conservative research organization American Enterprise Institute, said, “you see more people are working, so fewer people are going to be in poverty.”

After a long period of rising inequality, Elise Gould, an economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington, added, the benefits of the improving economy finally began to seep downward. Wage increases were “even stronger at the bottom than in the middle,” she said.

For those on the lower rungs of the income ladder, a step upward can be profound. For some, it means the difference between sleeping on a friend’s couch and having a home. For others, it is the change from getting shoes at Goodwill to buying a new pair at Target, or between not having the money to buy your daughter an ice cream cone to getting her a bicycle for her birthday.

Photo
Cheyvonné Grayson worked mostly as a day laborer until he got into the carpenters’ union — a feat he could not have achieved, he said, without the help of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center. “That was the door opener.” Credit Emily Berl for The New York Times

The poverty rate fell in 23 states, with Vermont leading the way. The rest stayed flat; none got worse. And other evidence suggests the improvement has continued, if not as strongly, this year.

Mr. Caicedo, 32, initially found his job on Craigslist last summer, starting at $12 an hour. Recently, he was promoted to his salaried position and now drives a 2015 Nissan Pathfinder. His wife was able to leave her job at a clothing store and take care of their four children.

Michael Lastoria, who started the chain called & pizza where Mr. Caicedo works, said: “We try to pay as close to a fair or living wage as possible,” roughly $2 an hour above the minimum with a steady full-time schedule and benefits. “We want people to have careers, not just jobs,” he said.

The availability of full-time jobs at a livable wage may be essential to move out of poverty but is not necessarily enough. Many poor people, saddled with a deficient education, inadequate health care and few marketable skills, find small setbacks can quickly set off a downward spiral. The lack of resources can prevent them from even reaching the starting gate: no computer to search job sites, no way to compensate for the bad impression a missing tooth can leave.

Many of those who made it had outsize determination, but also benefited from a government or nonprofit program that provided training, financial counseling, job hunting skills, safe havens and other services.

Cheyvonné Grayson, 29, grew up in South-Central Los Angeles, where he, at the age of 14, saw a friend gunned down. Since graduating from high school, Mr. Grayson has worked mostly as a day laborer. In 2014, he was paying $300 a month to sleep on someone’s couch and showing up at 6 a.m., morning after morning, at nonunion construction sites in the hopes of getting work.

Often the supervisors and workers spoke only Spanish, and it was hard to understand the orders and measurements. He remembered one foreman looking him up and down, skeptical that he could do the job.

Photo
Christine Magee, center, a mother of four, joined an intensive self-sufficiency program in 2014 after she fell into bankruptcy. She now has more than $8,000 in savings and a bank letter confirming she qualifies for a mortgage. Credit Whitten Sabbatini for The New York Times

“I had to prove this man wrong,” Mr. Grayson said.

At every site, he said he tried to pick up skills, carefully observing other workers, asking questions and later reinforcing the lessons by watching YouTube videos. Even so, the work was inconsistent and paid poorly, he said.

What made the difference, he said, was getting into the carpenters’ union — a feat he could not have achieved without the help of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center. “That was the door opener,” Mr. Grayson said.

He had to borrow a few hundred dollars for fees and tools, but his first apprenticeship as a carpenter started at $16.16 an hour. He quickly moved up to $20.20 an hour and is paid for his further training. He is now hanging doors for new dormitories at the University of Southern California.

For the first time in his life, he opened a bank account.

Seventeen hundred miles east, Christine Magee, a mother of four, joined an intensive self-sufficiency program administered by the Chicago Housing Authority and the Heartland Alliance after she fell into bankruptcy from racking up $22,000 in debt on a credit card. As a recipient of a federal housing voucher, Ms. Magee was eligible to enroll.

She set three goals after joining the program in 2014: buy a house, raise her dismal credit rating and get a better job that would provide for her retirement someday.

“She was really motivated,” said her counselor, Barbara Martinez. “Not everyone is.”

Ms. Magee’s husband has found only sporadic work. But she has moved from a health-technician job that paid $23,000 a year and left her family on Medicaid to one at a veterans hospital that pays more than $35,000 and provides health and educational benefits. The extra earnings automatically went into an escrow account.

A couple of weeks ago, she graduated from the program with more than $8,000 in savings — which she plans to use for a down payment on a home — and a bank letter confirming she qualifies for a mortgage.

“I knew,” Ms. Magee said, “there was something more out there.”

United Way of Western Connecticut Announces Partners for its Financial Opportunity Center

$74,000 will support ALICE families in the region

DANBURY, Conn. (September 13, 2016) — United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) announced today the creation of its Financial Opportunity Center and the partner agencies that will work together to provide financial literacy services to the local community. Grants totaling $74,000 will be given to three non-profit agencies in the region. Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) will receive a grant award of $39,000 to provide services in Danbury, New Milford and Stamford; Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC) in Stamford will receive a grant award of $20,000; and The Bridge To Independence and Career Opportunities (TBICO) will receive a grant award of $15,000 to serve clients in Danbury and New Milford.

Each agency will deliver financial literacy courses and budget coaching to individuals in the ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population. ALICE refers to people who are living paycheck to paycheck and often struggle to afford life’s basic necessities. The partner agencies have agreed on three main outcomes to measure success: improving the credit scores of clients, helping them achieve one personal financial goal, and ensuring that they adhere to a household budget for at least six months.

Additionally, in the spring of 2017, UWWC will launch an incentivized savings program for individuals who complete the financial coaching sessions at WBDC, DVCC, and TBICO. The savings program will allow participants to deposit regular savings into a special bank account in order to work toward building savings for emergencies and toward financial goals that include education, housing, and transportation. Participants in this program will receive a monetary match toward their savings when they meet defined savings benchmarks.

UWWC funding priorities for 2016 - 2017 were based on 27 community conversations and 520 survey results from residents from Stamford, greater Danbury and greater New Milford. We learned that the biggest challenges facing ALICE households in our region are saving for a house and emergencies, paying for childcare, and having enough food.

“United Way is pleased to implement a series of programs that we believe will provide an immediate positive impact on the lives of hard-working individuals in our community,” said Kim Morgan, CEO of UWWC.  “Our ALICE report from 2014 revealed that 35% of households in Connecticut are struggling to make ends meet each month. Our investment in financial education and savings opportunities is a response to that report and our own community conversations. I am confident that if we can assist individuals through financial education and provide them access to desperately needed savings, then they will be propelled to future success.”

For more information on the financial literacy programs, please contact United Way of Western Connecticut at (203) 297-6674.

The ALICE Report

Thirty-five percent of households in Connecticut are on a financial tightrope, including many hard-working families who are struggling to earn enough pay to make ends meet.

United Way of Connecticut's in-depth ALICE Report documents that 474,445  households across the state struggle to pay for life’s basic necessities. That number includes those living in poverty and an often-overlooked population -- ALICE, a United Way acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed.

ALICE represents the men and women of all ages who get up each day to go to work, but who aren’t sure if they’ll be able to put dinner on the table each night. They are our childcare workers, our mechanics, our home health aides, security workers, store clerks and office assistants – all workers we cannot live without.

The United Way ALICE Report provides detailed analysis and data that explains why so many are struggling:

  • ALICE households have income above the Federal Poverty Level but below a basic cost-of-living threshold, described in the ALICE Report as the Household Survival Budget.
  • The annual household survival budget for a family of four in Connecticut is $64,689. For a single adult it is $21,944.
  • 474,445 or 35 percent of Connecticut households are in poverty (141,628) or fit the ALICE definition (332,817). 
  • 51 percent of jobs in Connecticut pay less than $20 per hour, which is $40,000 per year if full time.
  • In Greater New Haven, those living below the ALICE threshold, including those living below the federal poverty level, total 96,279 -- or about 39% of the total households.
  • Find out how one working mom in Branford gets by while living below the ALICE threshold.

ALICE’s financial hardships affect the overall social and economic viability of our communities too.  On the other hand, when ALICE households thrive, our communities and our economy are stronger.

Connecticut’s United Ways invite you to be a part of the expanding dialogue around the growing illusiveness of the American dream for many working families and the ways we can come together to address the challenge.  

 

 

From CTMirror.org  February 8, 2016 

Note: for the graphics use link below:

Commentary: CT must invest in children to overcome wide economic disparities

TrendCT The story in numbers

Derek Thomas    Fiscal Policy Fellow, CT Voices for Children

In Connecticut, not all boats are rising with the recovery’s tide. Though the state’s longstanding investments in high-quality public services, such as health care and education, contribute to overall levels of prosperity that compare well to the rest of the nation (the 10.8 percent poverty rate is third lowest and the child poverty rate of 14.4 percent is sixth lowest), the story is vastly different for many residents.

Connecticut is experiencing economic segregation that inhibits economic mobility – a detriment not only to the pursuit of equal opportunity for children in these communities, but to the state’s future workforce and economic success as well. In Connecticut, two children who live just a few miles away from one another often have widely divergent levels of opportunity. Educational resources and public services vary significantly. For many who struggle to make ends meet, economic segregation, high housing costs and a regressive property tax system are barriers. Strategic investments are needed in the health and education of children so that they are provided a fair shot, regardless of race or where they live.

We are fortunate that incomes in Connecticut are among the highest in the country, we have regained all the private sector jobs lost during the Great Recession, and the state’s labor force participation has rebounded faster than the nation. But poverty rates for black residents (20.8 percent) and Hispanic residents (26.5 percent) are three to four times that of white residents (6.1 percent), according to the most recent U.S. Census data. Among children, the disparity is even wider: 5.6 percent of white children live in poverty, and alarmingly, 30.5 percent of black children and 33.5 percent of Hispanic children live in poverty.

Our State of Working Connecticut report found that, despite a declining unemployment rate, the recovery is leaving many behind. Only one in two black residents over the age of 16 is employed, the lowest rate of employment on record. It also found that black and Hispanic workers make a median hourly wage that is, on average, $7.25 to $8 less than white workers (a gap that has widened since before the Great Recession).

Moreover, Connecticut’s income gap is the second largest in the nation just behind New York's – the average income of the highest 1 percent of earners is 51 times greater than the average income of everyone else. Among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, the Brookings Institution found that Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk is first in the nation and New Haven-Milford is ninth in terms of income inequality.

To better gauge the economic disparities described above, our interactive Mapping Disparities by Race and Place maps allow users to compare the U.S. Census American Community Survey’s most recent five-year estimates on income, poverty, educational attainment, and housing characteristics of all 169 Connecticut towns. Along with the indicators, each table lists the margin of error (MOE).

The Disparity by Place maps below reflect the differences across town lines. In addition, when populations are large enough for accurate measures, differential poverty rates are shown by race and ethnicity, as in the chart above.

CHILD POVERTY:

In Hartford, more than a third of all individuals and nearly half of the city’s children live in poverty. That is three times the state child poverty rate of 14.8 percent and 25 times more than some of the state’s wealthiest towns.

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME:

Illustrating the stark economic divide between two towns less than 30 miles apart, median household income in Darien is $199,144, nearly five times the income of Bridgeport. Connecticut’s median household income is $69,899.

EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT:

Not surprisingly, the towns with high levels of poverty and higher rates of unemployment are the same as those falling behind in educational attainment. In New Haven, home to Yale University, the share of adults over 25 years of age that do not have a high-school diploma (18.8 percent) is double the sate rate of 9.9 percent.

DISPARITY BY RACE:

The towns with the widest racial and ethnic differences in poverty rates are also among the state’s largest cities. The five towns with the greatest differences between black and white poverty rates are: West Hartford, Middletown, Stamford, Waterbury, and Meriden. Even adjusting for large margins of error in towns such as West Harford, for example, black poverty rates range from 18.4 to 37.8 percent and white poverty rates range from 4 to 5.6 percent - enormous disparities exist.

Trend CT welcomes data-inspired stories from contributors. Check our guidelines for more information.

Methodology Notes:
To obtain large enough samples to analyze small populations across the state, 5-year estimates are collected over 60 months, from January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2014. Data should be referred to as 2010-2014 data, not by release date, i.e., 2015 data. Statewide indicators rely on 1-year estimates. Maps will include margins of error (MOE) when applicable. Margins of error define the range of values in which the sample statistics differ from the actual population with a level of confidence of 90 percent (confidence interval). For example, we can say with 90 percent accuracy that a poverty rate of 10 percent with a margin of error of +/-2 falls between a confidence range of 8 and 12 percent. Confidence ranges are presented in the Disparity by Race maps.

 

Partnership to Increase Financial Well-Being of LMI Americans

New York, NY, December 10, 2015 (CDFI Connect)—This week, MetLife Foundation and Duke University announced the launch of the CommonCents Lab to identify new ways to help Americans improve saving and spending habits. The CommonCents team will identify behavior-related challenges and design solutions aimed at low- to middle-income (LMI) Americans.

Dennis White, president and CEO, MetLife Foundation, said, “Most people know that saving for emergencies, college and their retirement is a great –– and they want to save. But, knowing what is helpful and taking action to achieve it are two different things.” White added, “We’re excited to provide funding and partner with the CommonCents Lab to help them identify new solutions that will get people to act.”

The Latino Community Credit Union—an Opportunity Finance Network Member—and the Duke Credit Union, Durham, North Carolina, have already committed to serve as research partners for the Lab next year. The Lab is also seeking three additional research partners. Applications for potential research partners will be accepted until Jan. 15, 2016.

Excerpts from the announcement:

  • The Lab will be managed by Duke’s Center for Advanced Hindsight, which is headed by Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at the university. It will partner directly with banks, credit unions, community colleges, employers and other nonprofit organizations to design, build and test solutions intended to help people make smarter choices with their finances.
  • CommonCents will focus on developing steps to help people build emergency, retirement and college savings, and make informed big purchase decisions and end-of-life financial arrangements.
  • MetLife Foundation funding will go toward developing two locations for the Lab; one in Durham, North Carolina, and another in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco lab will be focused on taking behavioral insights into product development. It will partner with financial technology startups on building solutions to key financial challenges. Startup partners currently include Digit and RetiremapHQ in California and Qapital in New York.

More here.

 

Nearly Half of Renters Put Too Much Toward Rent

Washington, DC, December 10, 2015 (CDFI Connect)—According to a report released by Harvard University’s Join Center for Housing Studies, a growing number of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent. The report, America’s Rental Housing: Expanding Options for Diverse and Growing Demand, shows more than 21 million households are burdened by rent, which is up from fewer than 15 million in 2001.

Despite the recent boom in construction projects across the US, there is still a need for more units, especially in affordable housing. “As much as we’ve seen an increase in rental supply, the increase in rental demand has been astounding,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Excerpts from the report:

  • Inflation-adjusted rents rose 7% from 2001 to 2014, while renter household incomes fell 9%, creating affordability challenges for many renters.
  • In mid-2015, 43 million families and individuals lived in rental housing, up nearly 9 million from 2005—the largest gain in any 10-year period on record. In contrast, the number of rental units expanded by just 8.2 million, most of that from the conversion of single-family homes into rentals.
  • Much of the new supply is aimed at higher-income renters. The median asking rent for new market-rate apartments hit $1,372 last year, a 26% increase from 2012, according to the report.

More here.

Read the full report here.

 

New Data Reveals High Unbanked, Underbanked Rates in Localities across America

By Kasey Wiedrich on 12/03/2015 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: News, Data and Research

According to the latest estimates published in CFED’s Assets & Opportunity Local Data Center, one in every nine households (11%) in American cities with 200,000 or more residents are unbanked, meaning that they have neither a checking account nor a savings account. This figure is significantly higher than the national average of 7.7% for all households—roughly one in every 14 households. Without a bank account to store and accrue earnings, unbanked households lack even the most basic tools through which to build a safety net for emergencies, and are effectively shut out of the economic mainstream. Additionally, one in every five (20%) households in major cities is underbanked, meaning that while they have access to a bank account, these households still use alternative financial services, like money orders or high-cost short-term loans, to manage their finances. Family Assets Count, a partnership between CFED and Citi Community Development, is putting national data in the hands of local decision-makers to advance solutions to this issue.

Through the Family Assets Count project, CFED used the latest biennial Survey of Unbanked Households from the FDIC to develop new estimates of household financial access for cities and counties across the country, updating data previously released in 2014. These estimates provide a glimpse into the factors that influence a household’s banked status, and illustrate the pervasiveness of—and need for comprehensive solutions to—the nation’s financial access crisis.

Of major U.S. cities, Newark, NJ, has the highest unbanked rate, with 23.3% of its households identified as unbanked. Detroit has the second-highest rate with 19.9% unbanked. These positions are reversed for underbanked rates: at 28.5%, Detroit has the highest underbanked rate of all American cities with a population greater than 200,000 people, while Newark has the second-highest rate, at 26.9%. Newark and Detroit also had the highest unbanked and underbanked rates, respectively, among major cities in 2011.

These findings point to the need for solutions that address the financial vulnerabilities facing households across the country, especially households of color, those with low incomes and those without postsecondary degrees.

To find out about how families are faring on these measures in your city, visit the Assets & Opportunity Local Data Center. For more on how some groups are using this data, visit FamilyAssetsCount.org.