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

Startling Stats, And Three Ways To Dig Out Of Being 'One Crisis Away'

The numbers are staggering: One of every six Texans lives below the poverty line. One in three has no savings account. Two of every three have a sub-prime credit rating. Those numbers, and the real-life people they represent, are what propels Woody Widrow.

Widrow is executive director of Raise Texas, a nonprofit network of organizations focused on helping people build financial stability. As part of the KERA series One Crisis Away, he sat down for a Friday Conversation.

Interview Highlights: Woody Widrow on...

...Why the recovery hasn't helped people who are one crisis away: "Most of the people who were low income in 2008 have not benefited in any way from the economy moving forward. When recovery happens, for people who are resilient, who had resources, who had assets, who had family to help them, they could take advantage of it. For the people who didn't have those resources or families, they spiraled down, and now they're trying to get out of that before then can actually then move up the economic ladder."

...Why so many Texans (65 percent) have sub-prime credit ratings: "First of all, we have a large immigrant population that has not taken advantage of a lot of credit products and services. Traditional things -- of paying your mortgage and other types of products that more mainstream people are using -- our target population is not doing that even though they are credit-worthy."

...Three ways someone on the financial edge can get control

  1. "Talk to a nonprofit organization who's working on financial coaching or financial counseling ... to go through your budget, to understand what income you're getting, expenses you have, and ways that we may be able to move you up the economic ladder, to look for ways that you could save.
  2. "Start looking at the type of job you're in, and whether or not this job has the potential to move you up the economic ladder. If not, what are some ways that you could go to a community college or a trade school ... to be able to get a license or a degree that gets you into a higher-paying job?
  3. "Think about a long-term goal: Where do I want to be, or where do I want my family to be, in three to five years? And what would it take for me to get there?"

Find resources on our One Crisis Away: Where To Find Help post.

Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.