Study Shows that Orleanians are 'Asset' Poor
Nnpa | 9/25/2012, 9:47 a.m.
Because more than 70 percent of New Orleans residents have subprime credit scores, Ruesga notes, affordable lending opportunities can be hard to come by. "They're not going to get a loan and the check cashing centers then serve as local banks. Second-chance banking for people with credit difficulties should be encouraged."
The foundation study comes on the heels of a flood of other data about the economic vitality of the New Orleans region, including a study produced by local researchers linking life expectancy in the area to one's neighborhood and an Urban League report examining the health of the city's business, social and political climate for Black residents.
But while the confluence of the information from the various reports is coincidental, Ruesga says the data contained in the three documents point to the need for systemic change in New Orleans and the reports build on each other and make it hard for policymakers to ignore the challenges faced by the city's residents.
But "on the positive side," according to the study, "entrepreneurship has spiked in the New Orleans metro post-Katrina." New Orleans has more self-employed residents than the national average, many of whom are Black, and study's authors contend that "[f]or these microenterprises to become strong income producers, effective business training, financial literacy education, and financing and professional service supports are critical."
The data for the study were culled from Census figures, the TransUnion credit rating agency and other public sources, according to Allison Plyer, who spearheads demographic research for the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. Her group helped furnish the information for the foundation report and researchers spent months coming over the data before streamlining the figures into the eight-page study.
Plyer says that while the numbers outlined in the study are sobering, "They are not surprising," she says, given the state of the local and national economy and the city's long history with struggling to abate poverty. "What's clear from the information that is outlined is that there are a lot of people who are living on the edges of poverty."