In 10 major US cities, financially insecure families are prevalent, and residents’ financial insecurity affects city budgets. In 2019, the costs to cities range from between $6 and $14 million in Miami to between $534 million and $1,232 million in New York City. In New Orleans, the costs range from $13 to $30 million, suggesting that New Orleans, like other cities, has an economic interest in improving residents’ financial health.
Analyses of residents’ credit health and debt can provide cities additional information about the financial health of families. Half of New Orleans residents have delinquent debt, indicating that many residents may have trouble meeting financial obligations. New Orleans residents have poor credit health compared with the US average; less than half of residents have prime credit scores.
Cities can pursue initiatives that address long standing structural barriers including residential segregation, lack of access to capital flows and affordable housing, and measures that would address predatory financial practices to improve their residents’ financial health. These initiatives can be challenging to implement and require long-term investments and planning. In the meantime, cities can integrate financial coaching, counseling, credit building, and incentivized savings interventions into existing government programs into improve residents’ financial well-being and help the city meet residents where they are.