January 31, 2015

Group urges asset-building

With the economy in a prolonged state of flux, it is critical that North Carolina families build the financial assets that will help them weather this and other turbulent times, a new report says.

That means the state should build up the organizations that can help provide "the connection to opportunity that can foster shared prosperity," says the North Carolina Asset Alliance, a coalition of groups working to educate policymakers and the public about asset-based strategies for lifting families out of poverty.

Nearly three million people in the state currently have no banking relationship, or have one that is inadequate for their needs, and one in five households do not have enough savings to stay out of poverty should they be without income for three months.

One in 10 have zero or negative net worth, with households of color owning seven cents for every dollar owned by white North Carolinians.

Only about one in four adults age 25 or older have completed college.

And over three million households spend more than the recommended 30 percent of their income on housing costs.

To begin building assets among all the state's residents, the report urges policymakers to provide a "living income standard," along with benefits and other measures that encourage work, so North Carolinians will be able to save money; encourage financial institutions and employers to support asset-building; and institute policies that will protect accumulated savings and assets.

The coalition includes organizations such as Action for Children North Carolina, North Carolina Bankers' Association, North Carolina Justice Center and United Way of North Carolina.

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