Ford Foundation Supports Program to Help Low-Income Families Achieve Financial Security

The Ford Foundation has announced a $750,000 grant to Americans for Fairness in Lending for an initiative that aims to help American families think differently about their finances and avoid spiraling consumer debt.

The award will enable the organization to offer a one-stop information resource on lending practices and consumer debt, including shopping guides for loans, debt-relief tools, debt calculators, and information about key local resources for communities around the country. Ford also announced its plan to fund a survey to track how low- and middle-income households use debt to manage finances.

According to a recent poll conducted by Demos, a nonpartisan public policy research and advocacy organization and AFFIL member, much of the debt in low- and middle-income households is used as a safety net, with many families relying on credit as a fallback to cover unexpected costs or fluctuations in income and to pay basic expenses such as rent, mortgage payments, groceries, utilities, or insurance.

"We think it's critical that families have the tools and opportunity, not only to build new assets but to protect what they have already earned," said Frank DeGiovanni, director of economic development at the Ford Foundation. "The Ford Foundation's support for the AFFIL initiative is one element of the foundation's broader program to reduce poverty and help more people gain access to the economic mainstream."