How Assets Can Help the Homeless

written by naehblog
December 4, 2012

As the founder of the consulting firm Asset Building Strategies (ABS), Heather McCulloch, notes in her primer “Asset Building 101,” “Income enables families to get by. Assets enable them to weather financial crises, invest in their children and their community, plan for a secure retirement, and pass resources on to future generations.

Assets, as you probably already know, can be anything from cash savings to home equity, and as you probably also know, it’s really important for your financial health to have them. But it might seem strange to talk about asset building for people who are experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of falling into homelessness, as they tend to have few, if any, assets.

Nonetheless, in many instances asset building can be an effective tool for preventing or shortening the length of an episode of homelessness. That’s because of the opportunities that assets provide for banking, for business and for home ownership. Asset building can serve as an effective intervention:

  • When someone’s inadequate financial literacy (poor budgeting or a poor understanding of credit and financial instruments) leads to an episode of homelessness; and
  • When someone is unable to open bank accounts due to poor credit and/or a lack of a physical address (a situation that could worsen if the individual must resort to costly check-cashing venues for financial transactions).

Obviously, that’s far from an exhaustive list. There are many other of cases in which asset building can come in handy, and you can learn about them on Wednesday, December 5, when the National Alliance to End Homelessness hosts, “Asset Building and Financial Literacy for Populations Experiencing Homelessness.”

This webinar will explore how Louisville, Ky., and Seattle, two members of a coalition of municipal governments committed to improving the financial health of their residents (Cities for Financial Empowerment), are working to incorporate asset building and financial literacy components into their homeless service delivery systems. The webinar also will cover policy recommendations by the CFED (Corporation for Enterprise Development)for more effectively integrating these initiatives into service delivery. Speakers will include:

  • Tina Lentz, Executive Administrator of Louisville Metro Community Services and Revitalization;
  • Jerry DeGrieck, Senior Policy Advisor to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn; and
  • Edward SanFilippo, Economic Development Policy Fellow at NAEH.

Please consider participating in the webinar on Wednesday. You can register here.

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