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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

40% Of Dallas Families On The Financial Edge

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Four in ten people in Dallas are at risk of financial disaster. They live in “asset poverty” according to a new study. KERA’s BJ Austin reports.

The study is called an asset and opportunity profile, done by the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

Thirty-nine percent of households in the city live in asset poverty. That’s a lack of wealth or assets to sustain a family for three months if there is a job loss, a medical emergency, or some other financial crisis. Ida Rademacher, research director of the study, says these households have no buffer between them and financial disaster.

Rademacher: And when I talk about a buffer, we’re only talking about 46-hundred dollars, and that’s if you liquidate; if you sell your house, if you sell your car.

Rademacher says the high number of renters in Dallas – more than 50% -- contributes to asset poverty levels. Blacks and Hispanics are more than twice as likely as whites to be “asset poor.” Radamacher says it is not, however, a low income issue. One third of Dallas residents considered middle class, earning 45 to 70 thousand a year, live in asset poverty.

Rademacher: Income alone is absolutely critical, and absolutely not sufficient for financial security.

The income poverty rate in Dallas is 19%, twice the national average. The Dallas “asset poverty” rate of 39% is ten points higher than state and national levels.

The Communities Foundation of Texas, which paid for the Dallas study. It plans a series of meetings over the next year to find ways to coordinate programs to help people avoid the slide into poverty.