Dear Friends and Colleagues,
For the past 25 years, workers across all industries and regions have pointed to their debt—medical debt, student loan debt, payday loans, and loan sharks—as a daily “best of bad options” for getting by. They tell our Financial Coaches that our services signify “freedom.” This is the most common refrain in the stories we hear.
It’s on us to amplify this message of indebtedness as a permanent fixture of workers’ lives, and be real about the costs of this psychological, as well as economic, toll. Most importantly, we must take on the structural fixes to the workplace and financial services that perpetuate workers’ reliance on debt, eliminating indebtedness as an essential feature of working life once and for all.
I was recently moved by Tara Westover’s profile of the moment she felt free: “A few thousand dollars was enough to alter the whole course of my life… It allowed me to experience for the first time what I now know to be the most powerful advantage of money, which is the ability to think of things beside money. That’s what money does. It frees your mind for living.”
At this moment, the Great Resignation is not causing the great shifts in job quality and financial justice and equity that we hope for. So far there is little evidence of permanent shifts in employers’ investment in better jobs. We at Neighborhood Trust have work to do.
In 2021 we reframed our impact to be laser-focused on whether workers are free from costly and exploitative debt. In 2022 we look forward to the continued reach of our social enterprise, including our national worker benefit, TrustPlus; and our CDFI solution, Pathways. We are confident in the power of our growing platform of workers to pinpoint the market change needed, in work, banking and benefits, to enable financial freedom.
Chief Executive Officer