Local Interventions for Financial Empowerment through Utility Payments
For many low- and moderate-income American families, one unexpected setback, such as a sudden illness or job loss, can trigger catastrophic consequences that can launch them into a ceaseless spiral of household debt. When families are unable to pay basic expenses it can often be a sign of overall financial instability. Many cities have financial empowerment programs designed to help their residents, but often people who would benefit from these services either don’t know they exist or how to access them.
This brief describes how the Local Interventions for Financial Empowerment through Utility Payments initiative (LIFT-UP), a two-year pilot project conducted by the National League of Cities (NLC) in five cities, supported local government efforts. LIFT-UP offers city leaders a “win-win” scenario, allowing city utilities to recoup lost revenue due to unpaid bills, while connecting residents who are behind on their utility bills with financial empowerment services to help them improve their overall financial well-being.