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Building Brighter Futures: Children's Savings Accounts in Illinois

August 22, 2017

In 2009, the Illinois General Assembly created a bipartisan task force to explore a CSA program in the state. The task force recommended that a savings account should be opened automatically at birth for every child born in Illinois, using the Bright Start Direct College Savings Program as the savings vehicle.This report examines what it will take to make these recommendations a reality. To better understand the Bright Start program and how to make it an effective savings tool for all families, we look at how Illinoisans are currently using Bright Start, and explore the challenges low-income families and families of color face in using Bright Start to save for college. We also examine how a CSA program could impact the racial wealth gap in Illinois. Finally, we make policy recommendations for the design and implementation of a CSA program to help Illinois families save for higher education.

No Right Turn: Illinois' Auto Title Loan Industry and its Impact on Consumers

October 28, 2015

This study examines the auto title lending industry in Illinois. Auto title loans are a type of high-cost, small-dollar loan. They are similar to payday loans, but are secured by the title to the borrower's automobile. Title lenders operate in 25 states across the country, and each year an estimated two million American consumers take out title loans. This report examines data from two reports on the consumer lending industry released by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (IDFPR) and loan-level data from court records of collection cases filed in Cook County.

The Game of Credit: A High Stakes Game That Perpetuates the Racial Wealth Gap

February 24, 2014

Everyone deserves the opportunity to build a financially secure future for themselves and their families. Access to equal opportunities is the cornerstone of America's core values and is also a necessity to growing a healthy economy. Unfortunately, the reality is a far shot from that piece of the American dream. Income and wealth inequality are at levels that we have not seen since the Great Depression. The Great Recession further expanded an already growing racial wealth gap. Many families have little hope of upward mobility. In fact, day-to-day life is more expensive for those struggling to make ends meet due to unequal access to the tools we all need to build financially secure futures. This includes a basic checking & savings account, a retirement savings account, a college savings account, home and student loans with low interest rates, and a solid credit score that gives you access to these important loans. Many households of color have been denied access to these crucial financial tools needed to build credit and put them on a path to financial health. As this report will show, this inequity has led to a stark racial disparity in credit scores as well as related indicators, such as education level, student loan debt, employment, income, homeownership, and home loan debt. Fortunately, there are programs and policies that can help close the gap and therefore strengthen the economy, which are also outlined in this report.

Poverty Fact Sheets for Illinois House District 69

January 1, 2014

These poverty fact sheets provide data for Illinois House District 69 on poverty, extreme poverty, homelessness, health care, affordable housing, retirement savings, and more.

Support HB2262: Eliminating the Asset Limit on TANF

May 28, 2013

This fact sheet shows the impact of passage of the HB2262 legislation and its effects on families and the state. It also includes a list of organizations that currently support the legislation.

Support SB2400: Automatic IRA Program

May 13, 2013

This fact sheet addresses the reasons that voters should support SB2400, and provides a list of organizations that also support this legislation.

Small Dollar Loan Toolkit: A Guide to Creating a Profitable and Consumer Friendly Product

April 1, 2013

This toolkit serves as a resource for banks and credit unions interested in offering a safe, profitable, small dollar loan product. The information provided was informed by analyzing the structure of existing loan products, reviewing existing programs and research, and conducting focus groups with small dollar loan borrowers. It provides a coherent summary of the Small Dollar Loan (SDL) environment and the resources necessary to create a safe small dollar loan. An alternative to payday loans, SDLs are a means for customers to obtain necessary credit to pay bills and bridge financial gaps between paychecks. In this toolkit we will define Payday and Small Dollar Loans, outline the advantages of SDLs for customers and financial institutions alike, and review important aspects to consider for credit unions and community banks interested in providing SDLs to new and current customers. The toolkit also provides an online, interactive, profitability calculator to help financial institutions create a consumer friendly, profitable, loan.

Support HB2461: Automatic IRA Program

March 21, 2013

This fact sheet outlines the positive changes that will be made if HB2461 is passed and includes a list of organizations who support the legislation.

SB2319 / HB2262: Eliminating the TANF Asset Test: Frequently Asked Questions

March 13, 2013

This fact sheet addresses frequently asked questions about the legislation known as SB2319 / HB2262.

Exploring the Racial Wealth Gap: Financial Well-Being and Opportunities in Illinois - Preliminary Findings

November 16, 2012

The disparities in assets and ownership between communitiies of color and whites are a systemic problem. African-American, Latinos, and other communitiies of color have been consistently denied access to wealth building opportunities leading to negative consequences for individuals, families, and society. This session will define the racial wealth gap, how it is measured, and how groups across the country are closing the gap. We will also examine Illinois credit score data as a startling example of racial wealth inequality.

Coming Up Short: The Scope of Retirement Insecurity Among Illinois Workers

September 1, 2012

The purposes of this report are to identify the principal sources of retirement income, examine the extent and types of workers facing retirement insecurity, and explore the necessary components of a state-level public policy solution that could help to address the problem. Using employment data by industry and estimated retirement plan sponsorship rates, this report shows how many workers in Illinois, especially those in industries with traditionally low-wage workers, lack access to one of the mainstays of retirement income: a tax-deferred, employment-based retirement savings plan. The report concludes with a discussion of the essential components of a state policy that would expand access to tax-deferred, employment-based retirement savings plans.

Racial Wealth Gap

March 29, 2012

Many families in Illinois strive to create a brighter future for themselves and their children. But for many families of color, this dream is out of reach. They face unfair barriers to many of the financial assets we all need to get ahead. The result is less asset ownership among people of color - a racial wealth gap.