Category Archives: Blog

Expanding traditional financial services for the unbanked

Social Compact advocates for the expansion of traditional financial services in order to appropriately serve the needs of unbanked and underbanked populations in the United States. The high (and in many cases, exorbitant) fees applied to basic financial transactions such as check cashing, money transfers, etc. can often create significant barriers to wealth creation in low- and moderate-income communities.
Here are some startling facts:

• According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, an estimated 40 million underbanked U.S. households spend at least $13 billion each year on more than 340 million non-bank transactions.
• In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a lifetime, the average unbanked worker spends upwards of $40,000 in check cashing fees.
• And, borrowers pay $4.2 billion every year in excessive payday lending fees states a report by the Center for Responsible Lending.
In an effort to reach out to the millions of Americans spending billions of dollars as they operate outside the financial mainstream, many banks have begun offering a range of low-cost services including checking accounts, low-fee check cashing, ATM-check cashing and financial education classes targeted to the individuals and families who have struggled in the past with the traditional banking system, either overwhelmed by complicated banking fee structures, difficulty maintaining minimum balance requirements or an aversion to mainstream banking practices.
For more information on efforts to bank the unbanked and underbanked, check out the following resources:

No Bank to call Your Own, by Geoff Williams, in an AARP Bulletin Today article published Feb. 11, 2009

• Unbanked News, email newsletter from Charles Klingman’s (Deputy Director, Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Compliance Policy, U.S. Department of the Treasury)
Subscribe by sending a message to: charles.klingman@do.treas.gov

410935_AltFinServProviders, by Noah Sawyer and Kenneth Temkin, and prepared in 2004 for The Fannie Mae Foundation by the Urban Institute Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center

20041001_banking, a September 2004 research brief by Michael Barr for the Brookings Institution.

• The Pew Charitable Trust’s initiative on Family Financial Security

NPR’s Morning Edition: Recession Adds To Hurdles Facing U.S. Census

The 2010 U.S. Census is fast approaching and, according to this story from NPR’s Morning Edition, the recession will make it even harder for the government to make an accurate count. The decennial count directly impacts the yearly allocation of more than $200 billion in federal funding to states, cities, and municipalities. Unfortunately, many people affected by foreclosures or job loss are in transitory living arrangements and are harder than ever to track down. Furthermore, Labor Department data show that traditionally harder-to-count minority groups, such as Latinos and African Americans, are experiencing higher rates of unemployment. And the Morning Edition reports that recent immigration enforcement laws may make minority groups even less inclined to share information with census staff.

The worse part of the assessment is that those who are affected the most by the housing crisis are the ones who can least afford it. Some real estate has dropped so much in price that real estate in formerly bargain destinations such as Pattaya, Thailand are more expensive than real estate in such states as Arizona, and Florida.

Listen to the report here to see what the U.S. Census Bureau is doing to attempt an accurate count.

Social Compact Launches Exciting New Online Tool in Washington DC

WASHINGTON, Mar 11, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE)—Social Compact announced today the launch of its Washington, DC-based ‘CityDNA,’ a new easy-to-use web-based system that will serve as a one-stop-shop for visualizing and analyzing local market data. CityDNA aims to help local governments, investors and community groups understand and respond to the unique market characteristics of their communities.

CityDNA is made possible through support from the Citi Foundation and marks a giant leap forward in the technical capacity available to stakeholders working toward sustainable community development in the District. “The Citi Foundation’s support of Social Compact’s innovative technology will help Social Compact achieve its mission, which is to enable community development practitioners and private investors to drive investments and revitalization in underserved communities in Washington, DC, and ultimately throughout the United States,” said Ron Guggenheimer, Global Director of Business Intelligence and Analytics, Global Transaction Services, Citi and Executive Vice Chairman of Social Compact.

Developed in partnership with Universal Mind, a cutting-edge web-design and data-management company, CityDNA allows both experts and novice users to easily create their own data solutions, including customizable reports, maps, charts and tables based on their queries about specific communities in the city.

“The launch of CityDNA today heralds the arrival of a new era of information-led development for our community development partners in Washington, DC. Local governments, investors and community development organizations–whatever their size and capacity–will now have access to the very best local market data and information management technology,” said Social Compact’s President and CEO, John Talmage. “Developing tailored, localized data solutions for attracting investment or responding to mortgage foreclosures will now take a matter of minutes rather than days or months,” says Talmage.

CityDNA, a resource for informing market stabilization and revitalization strategies, will store a multitude of data including comprehensive real estate information provided by First American CoreLogic Inc.

“We are delighted to continue our long-standing support of Social Compact with the launch of CityDNA today. CityDNA will collect data generated by First American CoreLogic and is the perfect platform for the community development field to respond to the current real estate challenges and opportunities in Washington, DC,” said Karen Collins, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at First American Corporation.

The Washington, DC-based CityDNA hosts a wealth of information, including:

— A comprehensive database of neighborhood economic indicators resulting from Social Compact’s 2007 citywide DrillDown neighborhood market analysis;

— The recently-completed 2009 District-wide Business Environment Scan assessing the presence and health of the District’s small businesses; and

— A wealth of indicators pertaining to the District’s housing market, including foreclosures, market sales, home values and more.

Social Compact is a coalition of national business leaders committed to catalyzing investment in underserved urban neighborhoods. CityDNA marks a major step towards achieving this mission. The Washington, DC-based CityDNA, followed by Miami, FL, will pioneer the next generation of data tools designed to support sustainable community development. Social Compact plans to expand CityDNA to other cities later this year.

The Washington, DC-based CityDNA launch is marked by an introduction and training session for local District partners to be held Friday, March 12, 2010 from 9:30am to 12:30pm at the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership, 1495 F Street, NW. Among the attendees are representatives from the District Department of Small and Local Business Development, the District Office of Planning, Enterprise Community Partners, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Citi.

The Washington, DC-based CityDNA will be made available to a select pool of registered users. For a nominal monthly fee, additional users can gain access to the tool. For more information on how to access Social Compact’s CityDNA, please contact Carolina Valencia, Director of Research at 202-547-2581 or cvalencia@socialcompact.org.

Citi

Citi, the leading global financial services company, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 140 countries. Through Citicorp and Citi Holdings, Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, and wealth management. Additional information may be found at http://www.citigroup.com or http://www.citi.com.

Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic empowerment of individuals and families, particularly those in need, in the communities where we work so that they can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi Foundation targets its strategic giving on its priority focus areas: Microfinance and Microenterprise, Small and Growing Businesses, Education, and Financial Education and Asset Building. In the United States and Canada, the Citi Foundation also supports Community Development programs. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in Microfinance and Microenterprise, Small and Growing Businesses, and Community Development to support environmental programs and innovations. Additional information can be found at http://www.citifoundation.com.

Social Compact

Social Compact, launched in 1990, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of business leaders from across the country committed to promoting successful investment in lower-income communities. Working in close partnership with community and corporate leaders over the past decade and a half, Social Compact has successfully pioneered its unique “DrillDown” methodology as an accepted analysis of inner-city markets based on accurate, business-oriented profiles of “emerging” neighborhood markets. Drawing on business disciplines and community strength, these DrillDown profiles have a strong track record of catalyzing sustainable, private investment, benefiting communities and businesses alike.

To date, Social Compact has conducted DrillDowns in 20 cities across the country and has consistently found these communities to be larger, safer and with far greater buying power than previously thought. Cumulatively, Social Compact has identified: an aggregate household income $35 billion (22%) higher than census trend projections; 350,000 more households than census trend projections; and 1.25 million more residents than census trend projections.

For more information on Social Compact, please visit our website: http://www.socialcompact.org.

SOURCE: Citi Foundation & Social Compact

Fill Out Your Census Forms!

April is almost here. It is a month for pouring rain, playing pranks, painting eggs, and paying taxes. But since this is a year ending in zero that means it’s also time for one more thing, filling out your Census.

It costs no money and takes a trifling amount of time, but it helps to determine how well represented your community is in government, how over $400 billion in federal funding gets divided, and how big of a market your community represents to businesses and organizations looking to expand.

Social Compact has assisted cities with programs to correct and challenge undercounts of their populations by conventional metrics. Last year alone Social Compact assisted twelve cities in challenging their Census population estimates and found almost 224,000 people who had been left uncounted. That’s at least $2 million in misallocated federal funding due simply to bad data.

Over the years we have found that one of the hardest things about community based economic development is simply a lack of good, reliable information. Because of a lack of response to the Census and other surveys, low-income neighborhoods in America seem smaller, poorer, and less dynamic than they really are and we will have to live with the consequences for a decade. Consequentially these neighborhoods will not get the services they need as banks will not realize there are people in need of financial services and grocers and shops will not know how many customers they are missing.

Making sure you and your neighbors have all submitted their Census form is a small, but incredibly important step. If the Census has not delivered a form to your mailbox, you can call 1-866-872-6868 FREE to request one. You can also visit the Census’ website to request a form in a variety of languages from Albanian to Yiddish. Finally, any additional questions can be cleared up with a visit to any local Questionnaire Participation Center in your neighborhood.