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Many Ohioans struggling financially

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    Posted: Jan 26 2016 at 11:41am

Updated: 9:25 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 | Posted: 5:29 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, 2016

Many Ohioans struggling financially

By Randy Tucker

Staff Writer

Ohio continues to rank near the bottom among all states for the financial security of its residents, according to a report released Monday by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, or CFED.

While the state has shown improvement in job creation and public policy supporting working families, Ohio ranked No. 36 — down from No. 35 last year — out of the 50 states and District of Columbia on CFED’s 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard.

CFED, a non-profit dedicated to helping low and moderate-income families build wealth, ranked the states based on an analyses of such data as household income, poverty rates and homeownership. And for the first time this year, the report looked at racial disparities across a number of the more than 60 measures used in the rankings.

For example, researchers found that while about 65 percent of Ohio households are homeowner households — slightly higher than the national average of 63 percent — the homeownership rate for whites in the state is 1.8 times that of the state’s black and Hispanic residents. In addition, the richest 20 percent of Ohioans are 2.6 times more likely to be homeowners than the poorest 20 percent.

That’s below the national rates, which show whites are 1.6 times more likely to be homeowners, and the wealthiest 20 percent are 2.2 times more likely to own a home than minority families, according to CFED.

“We’ve made progress in certain areas…but some of the more troubling statistics are the racial disparity in homeownership, under-employment and the banked and unbanked,” said David Rothstein, a spokesman for Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland, which co-released the scorecard with CFED.

High unemployment, stagnant wages and limited access to capital continue to hold back a large, mostly minority, segment of Ohio’s workforce, according to Rothstein.

But the state could take some basic steps to help reverse the trend, including establishing a broader, more inclusive down-payment assistance program to help poor families achieve homeownership, and improving access to fair and safe mortgage products, he said.

“Is everybody meant and ready to be a homeowner? No. But it’s still the No. 1 way people build and pass down assets in this country,” Rothstein said. “Having a state housing policy is a crucial step, but, right now, we don’t even have a a state down payment assistance fund. So there’s a lot we can do.”

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