Americans are facing major financial challenges at a time when elected public officials are dealing with record budget gaps and cutting back on public services. For vulnerable families, financial hardship is magnified by job insecurity and volatile family incomes. In fact, an estimated thirty percent of Californians lack enough savings to get by for three months in the event of a job loss. Millions more lack basic financial products and services making it difficult to save, expensive to cash paychecks and pay bills, and challenging to keep money safe.
The need to advance innovative financial empowerment policies at all levels of government is clear, and by coming together and sharing proven strategies, we can help hardworking Californians get back on solid financial footing. To achieve this goal we must first identify barriers and facilitate opportunities, including implementing public policies that promote and support asset building and asset preservation throughout California.
The California Legislative Select Committee on Financial Empowerment and the New America Foundation hosted a hearing and community financial fair on August 18, 2011, to discuss these issues with policymakers, advocates, and community members in Bell Gardens, California.