Issue 3 (2008)
Many low-income people rely on payday lenders, check cashers, and other alternative financial service providers to get by. But the high costs make it hard for families to save. A 2008 Brookings Institution report highlights the reasons that the socalled unbanked turn to such services. It also suggests solutions−including both expanded bank offerings and increased access to government programs that stabilize incomes and reduce the need for emergency, high-cost credit.
The author presents an overview of what is being done and offers community development practitioners’ ideas about how to refine and strengthen the federal program. One example: change the program to allow a separate, additional allocation of tax credits for the purchase and resale of foreclosed property in low-income areas.
Massachusetts has been ahead of the curve in combating neighborhood deterioration as real-estate-owned (lender-owned) foreclosed properties increase. Affordable housing developers, community groups, municipal and state officials, and nonprofits have created a Foreclosed Property Task Force and an online database that is accessible by all the partners. The database is already improving decision making about where resources would have the most impact.