Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is announcing the launch of the Reach Outcomes. Achieve Dreams. Succeed. (ROADS) to Financial Independence initiative, which is aimed at improving the financial well-being and economic security of individuals with disabilities. The initiative, which is piloting with local partners in six communities across the country, will integrate financial counseling with employment, independent living, and other support services that are being provided to individuals with disabilities.
Confronted with high rates of unemployment and resulting economic stress, people with disabilities have often relied on alternative financial services like payday loans or check cashing to meet their financial needs. Operating outside of the financial mainstream, however, can be more costly and time consuming. According to some studies, people with disabilities are more than twice as likely to use nonbank services as other members of the general U.S. consumer population. The Disability Statistics Compendium reports a 28.7 percent poverty rate for working-age people with disabilities ages 18-64 compared to 12.5 percent poverty rate for adults without disabilities.
The first step for consumers participating in the ROADS to Financial Independence initiative will be a financial assessment to review their current financial situation. From there, consumers will be given access to a financial counselor who will help them set and work towards achieving financial goals such as improved credit scores, lower debt levels, and increased personal savings.
The ROADS to Financial Independence initiative will measure progress and determine which approaches are most effective through tracking consumer outcomes, including changes in consumers’ financial status and behaviors, and the achievement of financial goals. In order to leverage lessons learned to benefit consumers with disabilities more broadly, the initiative will facilitate the sharing of best practices.
The ROADS initiative is designed to deliver information, tools, and support to individuals through coordinated partnerships with disability and financial empowerment organizations in six communities. The communities and the organizations involved are as follows:
The initiative will be managed through a contract with the National Disability Institute, which will provide technical assistance and training, and facilitate partnerships to disability and financial empowerment organizations in six communities nationwide.
- Birmingham, Alabama: United Way Central Alabama and Disability Rights and Resources
- The Greater Washington, DC Metro Area: ServiceSource Virginia and Capital Area Asset Builders
- The State of Delaware: The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and ServiceSource Delaware
- Finger Lakes, New York: Alternatives Federal Credit Union, Cornell Cooperative Extension Center, Finger Lakes Independence Center, Ithaca Housing Authority, Tompkins County Workforce New York, Challenge Workforce Solutions, and the United Way of Tompkins County
- Austin, Texas: Goodwill Industries of Central Texas
- Seattle, Washington: The Washington State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Neighborhood House, City of Seattle, the Financial Empowerment Network, and the Washington Access Fund
More information and resources about the ROADS to Financial Independence initiative are available at www.consumerfinance.gov as well as through the National Disability Institute’s website and the partner organizations in the six pilot communities.