Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Publications

Rebalancing the American Dream: Forging Pathways to Financial Security

September 16, 2014

Accumulated wealth and diversified savings can be far more important than income for keeping household finances stable through volatile shifts in the economy. The damaging impact of the foreclosure crisis and recession on homeownership brought this point into stark relief. Many financially-constrained households concentrate their wealth solely in their homes, and the broader housing market upheaval changed the prospects for prosperity for those Americans whose hold on financial stability was tenuous at best. By further diversifying their assets beyond physical property alone, low- and moderate-income homeowners may be able to better maintain long-term financial security. It is also important to acknowledge that homeownership is not a viable or preferred asset building option for some Americans. For all of these households, a continuum of wealth building approaches beyond homeownership offers opportunities to establish, diversify, and grow their asset portfolio. This issue of Community Investments focuses on the efforts that help households build on their earnings and invest in their future. Highlighted here are programs and policies that expand consumer access to more affordable financial products; support renters in building their credit history; and provide assistance to families investing in their futures through children’s savings accounts, entrepreneurship, and retirement.