University of the District of Columbia Law Review


Aleta Sprague


Fifty years into the War on Poverty, the ability to fully participate in American economic life is predicated on access to basic financial services and mechanisms; yet, public programs designed to support the economic advancement of people in poverty often explicitly excludeinte nded beneficiaries from meaningful engagement with financial institutions. To promote economic opportunity for families accessing public assistance, we need policy reforms that both remove access barriers and create entry points to the financial mainstream. Safe and affordable financial products are foundational to financial inclusion. Unbanked and "underbanked" households-the vast majority of which are low-income---often rely on high-cost credit, predatory loans, check cashing establishments, and other products or processes that drain limited resources; this phenomenon is part of a larger set of financial disadvantages often collectively referred to as the "high costs of poverty."'

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