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Scorecard: WA Could Do More to Prevent Poverty

 

November 7, 2011



Seattle, WA - Washington could be doing more to help its residents improve their financial security, even in tough economic times. The nonprofit Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) has just updated its "Assets and Opportunity Scorecard," detailing how well each state is doing to help people build and protect their assets. Comments from Jennifer Brooks, CFED state and local policy director.

Intro: How do you look on paper? One-in-seven Americans has a net worth of zero, or a negative number. But states can help their residents change that. The nonprofit Corporation for Enterprise Development has released a new scorecard by state, tracking policies in a dozen areas that help people build assets. They range from encouraging micro-businesses and preventing home foreclosures, to college savings incentives. Jennifer Brooks with the group says financial stability involves a lot more than a paycheck.

Cut 235098 :15 "It is having assets – having money in the bank, having human capital of an education, the ability to buy a home or start a business – that actually help people sort-of transform their lives in an intergenerational way."

Tag: The scorecard gives Washington high marks for its higher minimum wage, but low rankings for no state support of Individual Development Accounts to promote savings for homes or college; no state-supported programs to help renters transition into home ownership; and few consumer protections in payday lending. Brooks says most of the programs cost very little for a state to administer.

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Second Cut: On the latest C-F-E-D scorecard, Washington does almost nothing to help people save for college. The '529' college savings plans have a combination of fees and minimum balance requirements that keep poor families from opening them. Jennifer Brooks with C-F-E-D says some states even provide a small amount of matching money to encourage college savings – because, she says, the programs work.

Cut 245098 :17 "There’s some very new research out that children who have a savings account dedicated for college are four-times more likely to actually attend college. And among young people who actually expect to attend college, those who have an account in their name are seven times more likely to attend."

 

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