US lower income households suffer declines -study

NEW YORK Tue May 17, 2011 3:28pm EDT

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NEW YORK May 17 (Reuters) - Lower income U.S. households suffered further declines in their financial situation in the first three months of 2011, and improvement is unlikely in the second quarter, according to a survey of nonprofit groups released by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve on Tuesday.

Only 1 percent of survey participants said the financial situation of low to moderate income households improved in the first quarter, and 84 percent do not expect improvement in the current quarter.

The quarterly survey monitors factors such as affordable housing and credit availability affecting low and moderate income households in Delaware, southern New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania.

Most respondents, 76 percent, said demand for their services increased compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. Most expected demand to keep growing in the second quarter, and none saw it decreasing over that time frame.

At the same time, many nonprofits are dealing with a decline in funding, with 49 percent saying funding fell last quarter and 53 percent expecting a further decline.

Four percent said access to credit had increased and 10 percent expect credit to be more easily available over the next three months.

The three factors seen most affecting access to credit are underwriting standards, lack of financial knowledge and lack of cash flow.

Ninety-two percent of respondents said access to affordable housing had either stayed the same or decreased.

Competition for subsidy funding and lack of capital were seen as most affecting access to affordable housing, the survey found. (Reporting by Kristina Cooke; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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