New Research Shows City Leaders are Taking Action to Address the Financial Struggles of Families
WASHINGTON - Mayors and other city leaders know that many low-income families frequently face the kind of financial challenges - inability to pay all of their monthly bills, lack of savings to cover unexpected expenses - that can threaten their well-being and undermine local economic development. These challenges leave many families in a position where even one setback, such as a sudden illness or job loss, can trigger far-reaching and often devastating consequences for parents and their children.
New research released today in a report by the National League of Cites (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education, and Families highlights the growing commitment of city leaders to mitigate the financial hardships many of their residents face on a daily basis. In 65 percent of the cities surveyed, mayors, councilmembers and city treasurers are working with community partners to increase the availability of financial education and counseling, build pathways to safe and affordable financial services, connect families to vital public benefits that they may not be aware of and implement other innovative programs to help families build financial stability.
The report, City Financial Inclusion Efforts: A National Overview, is a result of NLC's in-depth scan of financial inclusion programs in cities across the U.S. The scan included a detailed survey of city leaders and their community partners, follow-up phone interviews with a select group of respondents, and information from a convening of city and community leaders focused on financial inclusion efforts in their communities. The project was made possible with support from MetLife Foundation.
The report highlights cities in all regions of the country that are engaged in financial inclusion efforts. New York and Boston have established city offices of financial empowerment; Lansing, Mich., and Nashville, Tenn., are providing financial counseling and other services to families; and in San Francisco, every child entering public kindergarten gets a savings account for college with $50 already deposited. A companion blog post to the report emphasizes the tremendous potential for city governments in all regions of the country to lead the way in securing financial stability for families.
"As city leaders, we constantly see families in our communities struggling with debt, foreclosure and other financial challenges, and we know the impact it can have on not only those families but on the entire community," said NLC President Ralph Becker, mayor, Salt Lake City, Utah. "Mayors and other local officials are well-positioned to put structures in place to help residents gain a solid financial foothold."
The report summarizes the key findings from the research and provides numerous city examples that showcase the depth and breadth of local strategies to help residents become more financially secure. The report also inspires local officials to take further action by offering ways they can expand their leadership roles, such as identifying the key building blocks necessary to develop a comprehensive local financial inclusion system.
"This report is a tremendous resource for local leaders seeking to empower low-income families with the financial tools and capabilities to improve their lives," said Dennis White, CEO and President of MetLife Foundation. "MetLife Foundation applauds local officials that are taking steps to expand financial opportunities for their residents, and we hope the report will inspire more city leaders to take action."
About the National League of Cities
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.
About MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife's long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since its founding through the end of 2013, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $650 million in grants and $70 million in program-related investments to organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over the next five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit www.metlife.org.