from Neighborhood Partnerships, January 31, 2012
“Oregon must do more to build financial security of residents: More Than One in Four Oregon Residents Have Almost no Savings or Other Assets to Weather a Financial Crisis”
In Oregon today, 28.2% of households are “asset poor,” meaning they have little or no financial cushion to rely on if unemployment or another emergency leads to a loss of income, according to a report released today by the national nonprofit Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). Neighborhood Partnerships is the state partner in the CFED release.
The Oregon Scorecard, available at http://scorecard.assetsandopportunity.org/2012/state/or, builds on a family financial resilience framework developed by CFED that looks at ways we as a state can act to support the five steps to financial security – Learn, Earn, Invest, Save, and Protect.
Janet Byrd, Director of Neighborhood Partnerships, said “The Scorecard highlights the need for us to take action. Oregon received 1 B, 3 C’s and a D based on our data, and the Scorecard noted both long term and short term opportunities to make improvements.”
“The Oregon Legislature will re-convene in February for a short, one month session. While the budget will be the big topic of the session, we hope to be able to make improvements on one of the Scorecard recommendations and also make a difference for Oregon homeowners facing foreclosure,” Byrd continued.
Neighborhood Partnerships will be working in parallel with other advocates in an effort to pass bills that will require mediation aimed at stopping preventable foreclosures, protect homeowners from foreclosure during the time they are actively engaged in negotiations to modify their loans, and set and enforce servicer standards and regulations, requiring servicers to adhere to basic minimum standards of good faith and fair dealing.
The Scorecard highlights a dozen policy solutions that can help Oregon increase opportunity and promote financial well-being for all residents over the long term. In the near future, in addition to foreclosure prevention, Oregon should extend the sunset on the state Earned Income Tax Credit and increase its value to 18% of the federal credit. Finally, to build financial capability, Oregon should increase access to financial education throughout the curriculum.
“We cannot let the challenges facing our economy prevent us from investing in policies with a proven record of helping struggling families succeed,” said Janet Byrd, Executive Director of Neighborhood Partnerships, a Lead State Organization for the national Assets & Opportunity Network. “As a state, we must take the necessary steps today to protect vulnerable families from further financial shocks and lay the groundwork for future prosperity.”
The 2012 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard ranked Oregon 27th in the country overall for how Oregonians fare in terms of achieving financial security across 52 measures in five different issue areas. Many of Oregon’s residents have jobs, but they lack adequate savings or other assets to cover expenses for three months if they lose a steady income. Asset poverty, the Scorecard’s signature measure, is a conservative estimate of financial security since it counts all assets, including those—such as a home—that would need to be liquidated to be used for day-to-day needs. A more realistic measure of the resources available to families is “liquid asset poverty,” which excludes assets such as a home or car that are not easily converted to cash. Excluding these assets, the liquid asset poverty rate increases to 37.6% of Oregon residents.
For asset poor families, scraping by day to day is a constant struggle and investing in the future is all but impossible. “Growing numbers of Americans have almost no savings or other assets to fall back on if they lose their jobs or face a medical crisis,” said Andrea Levere, president of CFED. “Without those savings, few will be able to invest in a more economically secure future, including buying a home, saving for their children’s college educations or building a retirement nest egg.”
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look available at Americans’ ability to save and build wealth, fend off poverty and create a more prosperous future. The Scorecard explores how well residents are faring in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and assesses policies that are helping residents build and protect assets across five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education.
Oregon earns a “B” in Businesses & Jobs. However, it has among the worst unemployment and underemployment rates in the country (ranking 45th and 48th, respectively). The state ranks 44th in overall homeownership rate and 46th in homeownership by income. Housing in Oregon is out of reach for many residents, with the state ranking 46th in affordability of homes and 45th in both housing cost burden of homeowners and renters. Foreclosures continue to impact Oregon communities, with the state ranking 34th in foreclosure rates.