Seventy percent of all Newark, NJ households—the highest of any major city in the nation—do not have enough savings to live above the poverty level for more than three months should they lose their income. Households of color, those led by a single parent, or those led by someone without a college degree fare even worse. For too many of these families, an income disruption due to job loss, a medical emergency, or something even relatively minor as car repairs, can be devastating.
Advancing families out of a cycle of poverty and toward financial security is an important goal for communities like Newark. On October 29, 2015, Family Assets Count, in partnership with the City of Newark, Citi Community Development and United Way of Essex and West Hudson, hosted a successful Financial Empowerment Day, drawing attention to the sobering needs of Newark’s hard-working families, and highlighting municipal and community-based efforts to help these families build financial security.
The Financial Empowerment Day started with CFED and Citi Community Development presenting sobering data about financial insecurity in Newark. For example:
- 70 percent of households in Newark do not have enough savings to live above the poverty line for more than three months
- Communities of color fare worse--71 percent of African-American and 77 percent of Hispanic households do not have enough savings to live above the poverty line for more than three months
- 75 percent of households with an income of between $25,000 and $50,000 don’t have enough savings to live above the poverty level for three months if they suffer an income disruption due to a medical emergency or losing their job
- 60 percent of families with an income between $50,000 and $75,000 don’t have enough savings to live above the poverty level for three months
- Just 38 percent of Newark resident receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), far less than those who are likely eligible
- And less than four percent use free tax preparation services to access the EITC and other tax credits
- A quarter of Newark households are identified as unbanked or underbanked
Newark’s Deputy Mayor for Economic and Housing Development, Baye Adofo-Wilson, and City Council President Mildred Crump talked about how financial empowerment in Newark can help transform the city, giving families the tools they need to build their own financial security, while also strengthening local communities. United Way of Essex and West Hudson announced the formation of an asset building coalition in Newark, in partnership with LISC, New Community Corporation, Ironbound Community Corporation and the Urban League of Essex County, which will continue to focus on policy and programmatic solutions that address financial insecurity.
At the press conference, Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson and Council President Crump announced a series of Financial Empowerment Days that provide residents with information on a range of financial services, including free tax preparation, credit counseling, budgeting, and support on filing for student aid. The first Financial Empowerment Day was held at City Hall, with four additional days planned over the next year to be held at Centers of Hope and LISC Financial Opportunity Centers around Newark.