When most people think of economic insecurity, the first thing that comes to mind is an income that’s insufficient to meet basic needs. Low income is certainly part of the problem, but it leaves out a large and often-overlooked group of people who are one or two unexpected expenses away from an economic crisis: the asset poor. A person who is asset-poor does not have enough assets—home equity, checking and savings accounts, stocks and bonds, business assets, and the like—to cover three months’ worth of basic expenses in the case of an emergency. In a volatile economic climate like today, the asset poor walk an especially tenuous line between security and insecurity.
The Illinois Asset Building Group (IABG) is a coalition of organizations who are working to build and protect financial assets so that individuals throughout the state have a cushion to fall back on in the case of emergency, as well as means to achieve goals of entrepreneurship, secondary education, or a comfortable retirement. Some of their efforts include advocating for universal savings accounts for every child born in Illinois, expanding the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit so that low-income workers can keep more of their tax dollars, and promoting the adoption of sustainable alternatives to payday loans at mainstream financial institutions. At their annual conference this year on October 14-15 in Bloomington, experts from across the country and the state will discuss efforts to increase savings, expand ownership, and protect consumers.
Woodstock Institute is excited to share our work in a number of ways at the IABG conference. Our staff will be presenting on why asset building matters to low-income communities, how low credit scores exacerbate the racial wealth gap, how asset limits in public benefits programs discourage saving, and how federal financial reform will protect assets from predatory or abusive financial products.
We hope you can join us in Bloomington so we can work together to expand opportunity for all in Illinois. Scholarships are available for those in financial need. For information on registration, scholarships, and agenda, please click here.