In the Red: Debt in LMI African American Communities

Prosperity Now
1200 G Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Across the U.S., African American families with low- and moderate-incomes struggle with debt. In the 2015 National Financial Capability Study, over 40% of respondents with incomes $75,000 and below report that they “have too much debt right now.” The same survey shows African Americans appear to have an increased exposure to wealth-stripping products and services including costly credit such as payday loans further deepening the racial wealth divide. As Black families try to make ends meet and invest in their own futures, they too often find themselves in unmanageable debt with few good resources.

As part of our ongoing initiative exploring strategies to address debt in African American communities, Prosperity Now hosted a morning discussion that examined how debt became a major financial hurdle for so many African Americans and what can be done to support vulnerable communities in addressing debt.

The event featured two panels. The first panel of national experts examined the current debt and past-due bill challenges among African Americans in context of racial economic inequality. The second panel featured nonprofit leaders who are grappling with these issues as they attempt to improve the financial well-being of their communities. The event concluded with a short presentation highlighting how affected community members perceive existing debt management strategies.

Featured Speakers:

  • Evelyn Stark, Assistant Vice President, Financial Inclusion, MetLife Foundation
  • Devin Fergus, Arvarh E. Strickland Distinguished Professor, University of Missouri
  • Caroline Ratcliffe, Codirector Opportunity and Ownership Initiative, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute
  • Josh Sledge, Director, Center for Financial Services Innovation
  • Mary Tobin, Director, Brownsville Partnership, An Initiative of Community Solutions
  • Althea E. Saunders-Ranniar, Director, Financial coach and Advisor for Our Money Place at Bon Secours Community Works 
  • Courtnee Biscardi, Senior Vice President of Operations & Strategy - Urban League of Broward County
  • Andrea Levere, President at Prosperity Now
  • Jeremie Greer, Vice President of Policy & Research at Prosperity Now
  • Pamela Chan, Project Director, Human Insights at Prosperity Now
  • Spectra Myers, Sr. Research Manager at Prosperity Now

Click Here to watch a recording of the event on Prosperity Now’s Facebook page.

Event Documents:

Prosperity Now would like to thank MetLife Foundation for making this event and the work of this human insights research project possible.