Financial Well-Being

“Income is how you get out of poverty; assets are how you stay out.” How do we build policies, programs, and products that reduce systematic inequality and advance financial security for all?

Is Rags to Riches the Right Measure?

Comparative income quintiles don’t tell us very much about the material conditions of people’s lives. When someone rises into the top fifth, someone else falls into the bottom fifth.

Scoring Homeownership: Looking at the Long Game

Today’s economic climate offers little hope to many struggling families. Family incomes still lag in comparison, for example, to rising housing costs in many markets.

Keeping Justice in Mind as We Talk Asset-Building

I attended my first ever Assets Learning Conference, put on by CFED last week, and I have to say it was mighty impressive. And I was particularly pleased to see that economic justice and things like reforming the tax code to be less regressive and reward savings by low- and middle-income Americans, rather than mostly […]
A high school graduate who saved for college with the help of FUEL Education, now called Inversant.

In Which a Skeptic Is Won Over to Child Savings Accounts

While I am a firm believer in equal access to higher education for all, it’s over-emphasized in our individualistic culture as a solution to society’s woes.
A worker at Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, which recently secured new contracts for 3 million pounds of health care linens.

Building Prosperity—A Review of ‘The Making of a Democratic Economy’

A review of "The Making of a Democratic Economy: Building Prosperity for the Many, Not Just the Few," by Marjorie Kelly and Ted Howard

Discouraging the Voter

We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again, but, in Michigan—which is shaping up to be a crucial swing state in the presidential...
Yellow sign reading 'Aloha.'

Reflecting and Planning Using a Community Wealth Building Lens

Over an organization’s 25 years in existence, how do staff and volunteers measure impact and build off of lessons learned to guide their next steps forward?

Financial Inclusion Begins With Our Tax Code

Changes to the tax code, and tax programs that support low-wage earners, will strengthen gains made in the asset-building field.
ladders

Measuring the Right Things: “Mobility from Poverty” Is More than Finances

How would you measure someone making progress toward escaping poverty? If you've been tuned in to the asset-building movement you might look at their accumulation of assets and preparation for a financial emergency. You might also want to look at cash flow. But can poverty-fighting be solely measured by money?

How Does Mobile Banking Affect the Unbanked?

The absence of bank branches and the proliferation of high-priced alternative lenders in the region only underscore the importance of access to affordable financial services.

Creative Ways to Finance Agriculture

In Montana, small family farms are disappearing at an alarming rate, and farmers and ranchers are unable to compete with giant agriculture mergers. But there are several ways to help improve the farmland accessibility issue.

Food Banks: Another Crisis Casualty?

Last week, when a prominent and long-standing central New Jersey soup kitchen went to the newspapers as a last resort to inform the public...
Black computer enter key

SoFi, Not So Good: Is This Virtual Redlining?

SoFi is practicing product segregation. It wants to serve affluent people with its best products and shunt low- and moderate-income borrowers into inferior products that do not meaningfully serve credit needs.

Why Financial Education Should Get Political

Financial curricula for low-income households often focus on personal choices about budgeting and saving, but if they don't also address systemic problems, exploitation, and discrimination, they aren't speaking to their audience's reality.
physician takes blood pressure

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—Sept. 21

News from—and affecting—the community development world.

CRA Modernization:  A Critical Moment for Underserved Neighborhoods

The Community Reinvestment Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act hold great promise for the creation of a more financially inclusive nation, but both depend on critical "moments in time" in Congress that will determine whether they become good laws or are weakened beyond recognition

Who Is Still Unbanked, And What Can We Do About it?

Seven percent of U.S. households, a group roughly the size of the population of Australia, were “unbanked” in 2015, meaning they have neither a checking nor savings account. This is the lowest unbanked rate recorded since the survey first launched in 2009
structural sinking boat

Financial Coaches, Let’s Be Upfront About Economic Structural Racism

Financial education messaging is too often presented as if individual behavior and attitudes are the cause of our growing economic challenges rather than our social, economic, and political systems.

Does the Current Reliance on Credit Scores Deny Deserving Applicants?

Last week, we asked readers if credit scores were too much of a driver in home loan approval. You answered overwhelmingly that yes, credit...
This Opa-locka, Florida resident had his loan request approved based on his character and not his credit score.

When a Person’s Character Trumps Their Credit Score

Some CDFIs approve loans based on a person’s character instead of their credit score. But they only recommend doing so when you know the applicant.