Asset-Building for Low-Income People

Approximately 20% of the United States population lives with some level of disability, and people with disabilities are almost three times as likely to live in poverty than any other group. WID’s Access to Assets project opens doors for the disability community by promoting asset-building and financial literacy among people with disabilities. Asset building is an anti-poverty strategy helping low-income people move toward greater economic independence by saving and purchasing long-term assets. Building assets, as a complement to increasing income, provides the stability necessary to escape the cycle of poverty.

That’s the introduction to the Access to Assets project offered by the World Institute on Disability (WID).  I confess that when I first read this I had my doubts.  How can someone living in poverty possibly save enough money for a down payment on a home or for business start-up costs?  I’m probably not alone in my thinking; perhaps some of you are of the same mind.  Well, I was wrong.  It is possible, and Access to Assets is helping people make it happen.

For instance, take Jill, a single mom with a disability, who in two short years was able to improve her credit rating, save for a down payment and buy a home. (You can find Jill’s full story here.)  Or there’s Vicky, who managed to raise $8,000 of capital and start her own successful tax preparation business without impacting her benefits.  (You can find Vicky’s full story here.)

Access to Assets bridges the gap between the disability community and the asset building community through a medley of services.  In their the EQUITY e-newsletter (found here) you’ll learn about  special savings accounts that do not negatively impact a person’s benefits and a variety of programs that can help leverage small amounts of money into large savings.

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One comment

  1. I support providing this information to CTP students. Even for CTP graduates like myself, who was able to work for 14 years with a middle-level income, saving and investing is an important skill. In my case, my disabilities were degenerative over time. As work became ever more challenging, I thought of my investment income as my ‘third hand’ (a pun on Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”). The accumulated investment assets helped me to bridge the gap between the time I last worked to the time I qualified for Social Security. I still have investment assets in my retirement.
    – Bert Patterson

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