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The Inclusive Economy

Family Assets Count: Powering Municipal Action with Data

By Solana Rice on 03/16/2015 @ 11:00 AM

Tags: Assets & Opportunity Initiative

Recently, Sacramento Mayor and President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Kevin Johnson announced a commitment to addressing income inequality, and took the first step of establishing a local advisory taskforce. Political taskforces abound, and not all are productive—but we believe that this one has the potential to generate important new policies and programs. What’s making the difference? Thanks to the California Capital Region Assets & Opportunity Network, this taskforce will have access to powerful data and strategies to help them address financial security for all families, not just the 12% of Sacramentans who live in income poverty.

These resources, made possible with support from Citi Community Development, are part of the Family Assets Count project, which is working with Leaders in the Assets & Opportunity Network and local elected officials in ten cities to redefine what it means for families to be financially secure.

In the five cities we’ve worked in to date—Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami and Sacramento—about half of families lack the three months’ savings needed to withstand a loss of income like job loss or medical emergency. In Miami, this is true for two out of three families. Not only do these families lack a financial cushion, but they also are unable to invest in their futures. They aren’t saving for education, homeownership or retirement—things that create hope and opportunity for their family and children, but also help grow their local economy.

Fortunately, our partners are turning this data into action. In Boston, Family Assets Count is giving Assets & Opportunity Network Lead Organization The Midas Collaborative with an opportunity to inform Mayor Marty Walsh’s economic opportunity agenda. This includes supporting his announcement of a new Office of Financial Empowerment, new Financial Opportunity Centers in neighborhoods and a new Children’s Savings Account pilot.

Meanwhile, in Miami, the discussion of the data and local service provision has helped our partner, Catalyst Miami, tell the story of local families, strengthen their partnership with city officials and spark a conversation about potential county-wide asset-building solutions. In all of the cities, the new Family Assets Count data have helped coalitions of service providers, funders and public officials better understand the depth of financial fragility in their communities.

This has offered not only an opportunity to talk about the problem, but also to develop action steps for better coordination, new products and enhanced service delivery. In the next five Family Assets Count cities (the Bronx, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Newark, NJ; Oakland, CA; and Washington, DC), our work is already underway and opportunities abound to support local elected officials in improving financial resiliency for families.

Wondering what it takes for a family of four in your city to withstand a temporary loss in income? Visit our Asset Poverty Calculator. For more information about Family Assets Count or for more data for your city, visit familyassetscount.org.

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