I believe our work is more important now than ever.
A growing number of families across the country face chronic economic insecurity, unable to stabilize their financial lives and get ahead. Over half of Americans experience volatility in their income and bills, and more than half either break-even or spend more than they make in most months (Pew 2015). And while parents struggle to achieve economic security, their children face a life of diminishing upward mobility (Pew, 2012).
In San Francisco, these challenges are acute. Dramatic income and wealth inequality increasingly divides those at the center of the city’s booming economy from those at its margins, particularly communities of color. 170,000 San Francisco families (47%) are financially insecure, with less than $2,000 in savings (Urban Institute, 2017).
Achieving economic security is not only a critical challenge for San Francisco residents—the financial health of the city depends on it. When families experience a financial shock, they are more likely to miss bills, face eviction and fail to meet other financial obligations that are often ultimately borne by the city. The Urban Institute estimated the cost to San Francisco from evictions, and unpaid property taxes and utility bills at $24-$54 million in 2016.
Families striving to achieve economic security need policies that enable them to build wealth and resiliency, and address predatory practices that strip what few resources they do have. Given the current federal government’s retreat from consumer financial protection and policies that support a fair and inclusive economy, we believe cities are more important now than ever and the work of the OFE imperative.
So, with a new strategy to guide us and renewed commitment, we are sharpening our focus on those struggling most, marshaling finite city and philanthropic resources, and working in concert—in new ways—with public, private and nonprofit allies to strengthen the economic security and mobility of low income families.