Today, Citi Community Development, the NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and municipal leaders from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco announced the expansion of Empowered Cities, a landmark initiative launched in 2017 to advance financial inclusion and economic opportunity for lower-income people with disabilities. Citi’s $2 million, multi-city commitment will expand the initiative’s existing focus to include housing and employment for financially vulnerable households in the disability community, building on the partnership with National Disability Institute (NDI) focused on financial capability.
Individuals with disabilities and their families are one of the most underserved and financially vulnerable groups in the country. There are 61 million people with a disability in the United States. More than a quarter of people with a disability are living below the poverty level; only 37 percent are employed, compared to 79 percent of those without disabilities, and half of those who are working earn less than $25,000 per year. Moreover, according to research by NDI, many individuals with disabilities have difficulty managing household finances and navigating the complexities of benefits, insurance, medical costs, and long-term supports while still preparing for retirement. Approximately one in four U.S. households with a person with a disability pay more than 50% of their income on housing.
“The intersections between housing, employment, and financial empowerment for people with disabilities is a critical component to making sure that policies best serve their needs,” said Commissioner Victor Calise of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “This new initiative will lead to research and best practices that will greatly improve our understanding of how to deliver quality and accessible services to the disability community. The New York City MOPD thanks Citi for their collaboration and looks forward to working with them and the other municipalities to advance the disability policy conversations on a national level.”
Citi’s renewed support of Empowered Cities, which builds on its original $2MM investment with founding financial capability partner, National Disability Institute, and the City of New York to develop and launch the initiative, will further catalyze municipal efforts to advance economic opportunities for people with disabilities. Each participating city will design a “Roadmap to Economic Inclusion”, with technical expertise and guidance from National Disability Institute and other partners, which will include a landscape analysis of existing capacity, assets, and gaps across housing, employment, and financial empowerment for people with disabilities. The Roadmaps will recommend opportunities and solutions that each municipality can lead. In addition, program collaborators will also organize and participate in national convenings to share best practices, and inform policy and advocacy efforts.
“The financial needs and challenges of people with disabilities are complex and interconnected, requiring research-based solutions that traverse housing, employment and overall financial capability,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. “This expansion of Empowered Cities will equip more municipalities to provide the specialized, holistic support that individuals with disabilities and their families need to build more secure financial futures.”
Empowered Cities has four key principles:
- Led by people with disabilities. Founding municipal leaders will launch a steering committee to lead the expansion of Empowered Cities.
- Fosters locally responsive solutions. Each “Roadmap to Economic Inclusion” will be responsive and tailored to meet each city’s needs and priorities.
- Catalyzes new resources. Citi will provide seed funding to jumpstart investment in municipal solutions for people with disabilities.
- Elevates the collective influence, work and voice of local leaders. Municipal disability leaders will bring their perspectives to ongoing national conversations about financial empowerment, employment, and access to affordable and accessible housing.
The expanded Empowered Cities program is based on learnings from a convening in New York City held this spring, where—for the first time—commissioners from 10 mayoral offices and disabilities-focused leaders gathered in person. Led by the NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and hosted by National Disability Institute, with support and participation from Citi, the convening explored how to harness the diverse expertise and efforts underway to take on the most-pressing financial security issues facing the disability community.
“People with disabilities have gained increased opportunities for independent living in the 30 years since the ADA was passed. However, financial stability and security still remain out of reach for so many,” said Kristen McCosh, Disability Commissioner & ADA Title II Coordinator, Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities, City of Boston. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Citi in this effort to expand economic opportunities for our residents with disabilities by providing the tools and training they need to achieve success. This will expand on the City of Boston’s current work with NDI on financial empowerment by adding an intentional focus on the complex economic issues that people with disabilities often face.”
“We are looking forward to working with Citi to continue creating the conditions and pathways to financially empower our residents with disabilities," said Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Karen Tamley. "This initiative aligns with the City's efforts to lift up the economic conditions of all Chicagoans especially those who have been historically underserved."
“The City of Los Angeles has long recognized that people with disabilities and their families are fully capable of setting and achieving financial goals, particularly when supported with well-developed financial empowerment programs,” said Stephen Simon, Executive Director, and City of Los Angeles Department on Disability. “Through this initiative, the City of Los Angeles, our partner cities, and Citi will develop regionally tailored programs to leverage the resiliency and tenacity of our communities to overcome barriers that often times unnecessarily limit their ability to secure family sustaining employment, to earn income, and to invest wisely.”
“We look forward to connecting San Franciscans in the coming months to explore the opportunities Empowered Cities could provide for our residents with disabilities,” said Nicole Bohn, Director, Mayor’s Office on Disability, City of San Francisco.
"As we approach 30 years since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the greatest challenges that still remain for people with disabilities in cities nationwide are financial instability, overwhelming unemployment, and lack of safe and affordable accessible housing,” said Michael Morris, Executive Director, National Disability Institute. "This new set of partnerships will foster innovative thinking and action to create a new set of solutions to improve the financial health and well-being of residents with disabilities in these founding cities with replication potential nationwide.”
The national expansion of EmpoweredCities builds on the first municipal model, EmpoweredNYC. The program launched in January 2018 with an initial $2 million seed investment from Citi Community Development to support the City of New York and National Disability Institute to test municipally led strategies to advance financial inclusion for people with disabilities and improve the financial stability of New Yorkers with disabilities and their families. Led by the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Office of Financial Empowerment, to date EmpoweredNYC has engaged nearly 500 New Yorkers in more than 875 financial counseling sessions to improve their financial stability.
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
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About the NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
The NYC Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), in operation since 1972, works to ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities can lead happy, healthy and productive lives and works hand-in-hand with other City offices and over 50 agencies to ensure that the voice of the disabled community is represented and that City programs and policies address the needs of the nearly one million New Yorkers with disabilities and the 6.8 million people with disabilities visiting New York City every year. In addition, the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities works with organizations on specific issues affecting people with disabilities, and aims to bring about dialogue that leads to meaningful outcomes for those living with disabilities. MOPD’s strives to make NYC the most accessible city in the world. For more information about MOPD, call 311, visit nyc.gov/mopd, or find it on social media, Twitter or Facebook.
About the Boston Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities
The mission of the Commission for Persons with Disabilities is to increase opportunities for people with disabilities by facilitating full and equal participation in all aspects of life within the City of Boston. This includes reducing architectural, procedural, attitudinal, and communication barriers as well as promoting equity in housing, employment, civic activities. The office oversees the City of Boston's compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The services we provide include information and referral, architectural access review, accessible parking program, and advocacy on disability issues.
About the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) promotes total access, full participation and equal opportunity for people with disabilities of all ages in all aspects of life. It seeks to accomplish this mission through a multi-faceted approach that includes systemic change, education and training, advocacy and direct services. MOPD works to meet the diverse needs of the more than 600,000 individuals with disabilities who live and work in Chicago, and make Chicago the most accessible city in the nation.
About the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability
Since its founding in 1998, the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability (DOD) has been the municipality's lead agency responsible for ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment, programs, activities, services, and facilities as articulated in the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related federal and state laws. The DOD accomplishes this by strategically developing and managing partnerships with policy makers, educational institutions, employers and business associations, and advocacy groups. Through various initiatives, DOD has consistently worked to make Los Angeles the Most Accessible Big City in America.
About the San Francisco Mayor’s Office on Disability
Serving as the City and County of San Francisco’s overall ADA Coordinator, the mission of the Mayor’s Office on Disability is to ensure that every program, service, benefit, activity and facility operated or funded by the City and County of San Francisco is fully accessible to, and useable by, people with disabilities. In addition, the Mayor’s Office on Disability supports San Francisco’s Emergency Management efforts, the members of the Mayor’s Disability Council, and works to connect San Francisco’s 94,000 residents with disabilities to local resources and support.
About National Disability Institute
National Disability Institute (NDI) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building a better financial future for people with disabilities and their families. The first national organization committed exclusively to championing economic empowerment, financial education, asset development and financial stability for all persons with disabilities, NDI affects change through public education, policy development, training, technical assistance and innovative initiatives. To learn more, visit www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org. Engage with NDI on Facebook: @NationalDisability or follow NDI on Twitter: @NatDisability.
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