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Citi commits $2 million to expand financial inclusion support for citizens with disabilities

The participating cities are New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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Global bank Citi has committed $2 million to expand the focus of the Empowered Cities initiative to include housing and employment for lower-income people with disabilities.

 

The participating cities are New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

 

Empowered Cities was launched in 2017 to advance financial inclusion and economic opportunity for people with disabilities. Citi’s latest pledge builds on its original $2 million investment with founding financial capability partner, National Disability Institute (NDI), and the City of New York.

 

Roadmaps

 

Each participating city will design a ‘Roadmap to Economic Inclusion’, with guidance from National Disability Institute (NDI) and other partners, which will include a landscape analysis of existing capacity, assets and gaps across housing, employment and other areas of financial management for people with disabilities.

 

The roadmaps will recommend opportunities and solutions that each municipality can lead. In addition, programme collaborators will also organise and participate in national meetings to share best practices and inform policy and advocacy efforts.

 

Complex needs

 

There are 61 million people with a disability in the United States. According to statistics cited by Citi, more than a quarter of people with a disability are living below the poverty level, only 37 per cent are employed, compared to 79 per cent of those without disabilities, and half of those who are working earn less than $25,000 per year.

 

More than a quarter of people with a disability are living below the poverty level.

 

Further, research by NDI finds that many individuals with disabilities have difficulty managing household finances and navigating the complexities of benefits, insurance, medical costs and long-term supports while still preparing for retirement. Approximately one in four US households with a person with a disability pay more than 50 per cent of their income on housing, the research finds.

 

“The financial needs and challenges of people with disabilities are complex and interconnected, requiring research-based solutions that traverse housing, employment and overall financial capability,” said Bob Annibale, global director, Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. “This expansion of Empowered Cities will equip more municipalities to provide the specialised, holistic support that individuals with disabilities and their families need to build more secure financial futures.”

 

Lessons from New York

 

The expanded Empowered Cities programme is based on learnings from a meeting in New York City held this spring, where, for the first time, commissioners from 10 mayoral offices and disabilities-focused leaders gathered in person.

 

"As we approach 30 years since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the greatest challenges that still remain for people with disabilities in cities nationwide are financial instability, overwhelming unemployment, and lack of safe and affordable accessible housing,” said Michael Morris, executive director, National Disability Institute. "This new set of partnerships will foster innovative thinking and action to create a new set of solutions to improve the financial health and well-being of residents with disabilities in these founding cities with replication potential nationwide.”

 

Approximately one in four US households with a person with a disability pay more than 50 per cent of their income on housing.

 

A previous Empowered Cities programme in 2018, EmpoweredNYC, focused on the City of New York to test municipally led strategies to advance financial inclusion for people with disabilities and improve the financial stability of New Yorkers with disabilities and their families.

 

Led by the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Office of Financial Empowerment, to date EmpoweredNYC has engaged nearly 500 New Yorkers in more than 875 financial counselling sessions to improve their financial stability.

 

“The intersections between housing, employment and financial empowerment for people with disabilities is a critical component to making sure that policies best serve their needs,” said Commissioner Victor Calise of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People (MOPD) with Disabilities.

 

“This new initiative will lead to research and best practices that will greatly improve our understanding of how to deliver quality and accessible services to the disability community. The New York City MOPD thanks Citi for their collaboration and looks forward to working with them and the other municipalities to advance the disability policy conversations on a national level.”

 

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