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Archive for the ‘income inequality’ tag

Poverty elimination needs to include asset building

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Written by Chris Giangreco, Policy Coordinator for Heartland Alliance's Policy and Advocacy Division- Illinois Asset Building Group

Poverty elimination requires specific, measurable plans and policies.
The thought of creating asset-building opportunities for families and individuals living in extreme poverty might sound ridiculous to many people. Build assets? How can someone save money or protect their assets when they don’t have enough money to pay for their immediate needs? What good is saving for the future when you can’t get by today?

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking forces individuals living in extreme poverty to continue struggling to get by day after day. Without asset-building programs and policies geared toward individuals living in extreme poverty, many people are denied the economic rights to access the necessary tools and resources to create a better future. Helping individuals and families in extreme poverty build assets might not make them wealthy, but it gives them a sense of hope for the future and supports them as they strive to get ahead.

Programs and policies that promote asset building for those living in poverty follow three basic categories for understanding human rights: protect, respect, and fulfill. Regulations to eliminate predatory lending and usury, such as high-interest payday loans, help protect individual’s assets at times when then need access to capital for temporary emergencies. These regulations, in other words, protect individual’s economic rights. Programs providing lowt-s-cost, mainstream financial services for those living in poverty respect individuals’ economic constraints. Financial services like prepaid debit cards, small dollar loans, low-cost check cashing, and no-fee, small dollar savings accounts help respect the financial needs of individuals and families living in poverty. These kinds of services allow families living in poverty to participate in mainstream financial services, which are more affordable than alternative services like retail check cashers. In addition, providing access to mainstream financial services and creating matched savings or incentive payments into checking or savings accounts help fulfill the economic rights of those living in poverty by supporting them as they build assets and create a positive vision for their future.

It is important not to dismiss asset building when discussing individuals and families living in extreme poverty. Asset building programs and policies tailored for individuals and families living in extreme poverty can help them live more securely today, weather financial situations, and build for a better future, By integrating asset building plans and policies into the larger framework of poverty elimination, Illinois moves closer to guaranteeing human rights for all its residents.

For more information about the Illinois Asset Building Group, please go to .

Written by archive

October 15th, 2008 at 2:40 pm