By Sabrina Terry, Senior Strategist, Economic Policy Project, UnidosUS
Photo: Got Credit.com
Building credit is an essential part of economic security for any American, but especially low-income Latinos and immigrant families. Latinos, like other communities of color, have historically been shut out of credit-building opportunities and continue to face several obstacles.
Latinos’ financial background make it difficult for them to acquire credit through traditional financial institutions. Per the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Hispanics are more likely to be “credit invisible” than their White counterparts, and have some of the highest rates of un-scored credit records. These challenges are exacerbated for Latino immigrants who must also overcome language, proof of income, and legal status barriers when navigating the U.S financial system. Despite their economic hardship, Latinos are avid savers and prefer to take a savings-based approach to financial challenges. Yet, savings alone will not help them bridge the gap between their earnings and their expenses or to take advantage of economic opportunities—they also need access to credit.
By Sabrina Terry, Project Manager, Wealth Building Initiative
The path to financial stability requires more than just financial literacy. Most Latino families understand basic banking principles, but struggle to follow them because of financial strain. Latino families suffered tremendously in the aftermath of the recession, losing 66 percent of their wealth. They need practical financial tools to stabilize their households and communities. Ongoing challenges exacerbate Latinos’ ability to recover, including homes that remain underwater, unemployment, underemployment, lack of access to credit, or having no credit profile, as well as immigrant-specific challenges such as language, proof of income, legal status, and identification barriers.
Like many of our partners in community development, NCLR has expanded its model beyond basic financial education. Instead, we celebrate Financial Capability Month. For us, financial capability is combining financial education and one-on-one coaching with access to safe and affordable products. We also recognize that Latinos need a fair financial marketplace, so our model also includes policy advocacy for better products, services, and financial regulations.
By Sabrina Terry, Project Manager, Wealth-Building Initiative, Economic Policy Project, NCLR
Photo: Pictures of Money
Latino families face significant challenges accessing credit, and not just for big life events like starting a business or buying a home. Small-dollar lines of credit that range from $500 to $1,000 are nearly as difficult to obtain. These small-dollar credit lines play a critical role in a family’s financial security and economic mobility, especially for Latino households who were hardest hit during the recession and their savings were wiped out.
Small-dollar lines of credit help low- to moderate-income families meet their short-term goals and pay for unexpected expenses, like purchasing school books or replacing a set of tires. A small-dollar loan can also be an important bridge for a Latino household that relies on seasonal work for income, when the current month’s hours are fewer than the previous month’s. They can also be a great stepping stone to building a positive credit history, making it easier to access larger lines of credit or get cheaper interest rates in the future.