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Low-income service providers struggle to meet demands
HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/15/11)--A survey of low- and moderate-income (LMI) households in the Third Federal Reserve District shows that their financial well-being has declined, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. As households’ needs for services, such as education, employment, financial aid, food, health care and housing has increased, the organizations that provide these services to LMI populations have not increased their capacity as quickly and have actually seen decreases in funding overall (Life is a Highway March 14). This is an opportunity for credit unions, which could step up their efforts to fill the gap in services. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Community Development Studies and Education Department last week released the results of its first Community Outlook Survey (COS), which monitors economic factors affecting LMI households in the Third Federal Reserve District. The survey, which will be conducted quarterly, asked 104 participants, who are service providers to LMI households, to evaluate how the financial conditions of their clients had changed from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2010. They were also were asked about their expectations for financial conditions three months from January 2011. Results indicated:
* More respondents reported that the availability of jobs had decreased rather than increased, but expectations for the next three months were more optimistic; * 17% of participants said that the availability of affordable housing had increased, while 46% indicated no change and 38% reported that it had decreased; * 99% of participants reported no change or a decrease in the financial well-being of LMI households in the fourth quarter of 2010; * 56% indicated that access to credit had stayed the same and 44% reported that it had decreased; and * Most service providers (71%) saw the demand for their services increase from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2010, with only 3% reporting a decrease and 26% indicating that demand had remained the same.
The percentage of organizations expecting an increase in demand for their services is greater than the percentage expecting an increase in capacity to help meet the increased demand. Thirty-five percent indicated that funding had decreased.


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