United Way of Acadiana is committed to the vision of a prosperous community where all individuals and families can achieve their full potential. However, more than 25% of families in this community are not financially stable.
The cost of housing, health care, child care, gas and other basics is far surpassing income in America. Almost half of all households in this country earn less than $55,000 per year, and for many hardworking families, turning income into savings seems like a luxury. Being financially stable puts families in a better position to handle crisis such as job loss, illness or other unforeseen expenses. Teaching neighbors how to build assets, decrease debt and create savings is essential to the development of a financially responsible community that seeks to break the cycle of poverty.
Some in our community have not yet acquired the skills needed to manage a traditional bank deposit account successfully. Census data reveal that nearly 30% of households in Lafayette Parish are "unbanked,” meaning no checking or savings account, or "under-banked,” meaning the household relies on nontraditional services such as payday loans or check-cashing services. Over a lifetime, that can translate into more than $40,000 in check-cashing fees paid by an unbanked worker. Approximately 66% of unbanked households will utilize alternative financial services at least once a year. (A household with a net annual income of $20,000 may pay as much as $1,200 annually for alternative service fees. Louisiana currently ranks fourth in the nation in predatory loan usage with interest rates as high as 780%.) Nearly 15,000 households in Acadiana do not utilize mainstream financial institutions and do not experience the benefits that stem from traditional banking products.
United Way of Acadiana is proud to partner with Lafayette Consolidated Government and banks such as Home Bank, IBERIABANK, MidSouth Bank, Regions Bank and St. Martin Bank & Trust in order to address this issue in our community. The Bank on Lafayette initiative is a collaborative movement to offer special deposit accounts to unbanked and under-banked individuals in Lafayette Parish. This is important because when people are financially stable, it allows them to make financial decisions that benefit themselves and their families, which, in turn, benefits the community. Helping others learn how to manage their finances means a more stable community for us all.
By working together with Lafayette Consolidated Government and bank partners, we can greatly reduce the 7.8% unbanked and 21.9% under-banked households in Lafayette and create community-wide opportunities for financial stability here in Acadiana.