The Story of Asset Building in New Mexico
The greatest promise of our nation is our people: everyday Americans work hard and aspire to achieve the modest dream of making a living, providing for their families, and making a contribution to their community. However, in this economic climate, our dreams are in danger as too many hard-working Americans are struggling to make ends meet.
Some of us have savings, lines of credit, family ties, or other assets to fall back on, but far too many Americans have not had the opportunity to build those assets. Even in good times, millions of hard-working Americans never got the chance to build real financial security for their families, and they are trapped on the treadmill of intergenerational, cyclical poverty. Treading water… working two or three jobs and still in a situation that prevents them from ever getting ahead. Our safety net of social services is fraying under that weight, and the hidden costs of status quo are spiraling. The poverty crisis affects everyone in our community. When we deny people the tools and economic opportunities to achieve their true potential as productive citizens, the economy suffers, the social fabric unravels, and we all pay the price.
Economic problems are complex, but assets are one answer that will help our communities weather the storm. Innovative new strategies are needed to build gateways out of poverty and into entrepreneurial energy that will fuel our country’s economic recovery. Assets are the building blocks of economic security: invest in higher-education, give people the keys to homeownership, encourage entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise, halt predatory practices, and offer sound financial products to incentivize savings.
These asset building strategies leverage existing investments in social services to provide the incentives to help hard-working people achieve long-term financial security for their families. Asset building programs are an investment in transformation and give our consumers a competitive edge in today’s economy. While traditional welfare keeps people treading water, asset building program strategies like the IDA help people build a boat to get to higher ground. Families who have access to strategies like the IDA can change their lives forever and enjoy the chance to contribute to the broader community.
Our current policies are failing to challenge the systemic exclusion of low- and moderate- income families from our economy and our community. The social safety net can catch families in crisis, but we must turn that net into a ladder, providing a pathway to harness the potential that is inside all of us to build a better life of independence and family security.
This moment of economic crisis demands innovative solutions that will address the underlying causes and will chart a course towards long-term progress. Asset building strategies are setting in motion a ripple effect that not only will transform individual lives but, will help the whole community. By increasing home ownership and providing education for financial savvy, we restore the dignity of hard-working Americans and mount the recovery our country needs.