We know that our children and youth are far less likely to learn and grow up to be healthy and productive citizens if their families lack the financial means to meet their basic needs (e.g., safe and stable housing, access to health care, and adequate nutrition).
Municipal leaders are uniquely positioned to mount community-wide efforts that empower families and bolster their chances of achieving long-term economic success. Asset-building strategies, outreach and public education campaigns, and workforce development programs all represent valuable approaches to assist struggling parents and their families. City-led initiatives to ensure that low-income families receive the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and other key public benefits can boost their incomes while bringing more federal and state funds into local economies. Mayors and other city leaders can also help families avoid foreclosure and predatory lenders, become more savvy consumers of financial services, and gain access to low-cost bank accounts and mainstream financial services. Finally, cities can develop and support transitional jobs, housing, and shelter programs and other creative strategies to help hard-to-employ residents enter or regain their footing in the labor market.
Examples of local targets to consider:
- Number of eligible families claiming the EITC and other federal or state benefits;
- Proportion or number of families with access to mainstream financial services;
- Poverty rates;
- Foreclosure rates;
- Number of check-cashing operations and predatory lenders in low-income neighborhoods; and
- Number of transitional jobs available to hard-to-employ residents.