Research & Policy
Without a credit score, you often can’t get an apartment or a secured credit card. If you need a car for your housecleaning or yard work business, you turn to payday lenders for a loan because you’re invisible to the mainstream financial system. In the United States, individuals without credit histories cannot meet their basic needs. Mission Asset Fund is setting out to change this.
With our credit-building peer loan program, Lending Circles, we work with low-income individuals to organize affordable peer loans that build credit. This kind of transformation occurs at a community level: we help small groups of people lend and borrow loans to improve financial stability and build credit. Our Research & Policy work is about inspiring change at a larger level. By listening and engaging with our community, we’re conducting research and advocating for better policies—all to find innovative solutions to real problems.
- “Credit Deserts: The Absence of Low-Cost Credit for Low-Income Families”: In the wake of the recent recession, a growing debt crisis is facing low-income families. Supported by promising results from a pilot research project, this report calls for better consumer disclosure on small dollar loans. Mission Asset Fund’s Financial Facts label is a first step toward protecting individuals from a cycle of poverty and high-cost debt.
- The "Just the Financial Facts, Please!" secret shopper study uncovered the costs and dynamics of borrowing $1,000. With an analysis of the 57 providers in the 94110 zip code, this report exposed the truth behind small consumer loan products available to low-income, immigrant community members.
- Financial Wellness survey: In collaboration with the Cesar Chavez Institute at San Francisco State, this survey is being conducted across San Francisco to analyze the impacts of the Lending Circles model, as well as to gather baseline information on the financial wellness of San Franciscans.
- The Immigrant Financial Integration Initiative (IFII) survey analyzed the financial attitudes and behaviors of Spanish-speaking Latina/o immigrants either living or working in San Francisco’s Mission District. The resulting Survey Briefs and report provides a full analysis of the data, detailing key insights, and public policy and financial product recommendations—all to better facilitate the immigrant financial integration process.
- Financial Facts Label (AB1980, Hernandez): an innovative solution grounded by research, this proposed label increases the financial capability of borrowers. We imagine a day where all small loans have a label that is as clear and transparent as the side of a cereal box. By highlighting key loan information in a recognizable format, we can arm low-income borrowers with the information they need to sift through the small print.
- Conferences and Thought-Leadership: Our stellar staff participate in over 20 nationwide conferences per year. Join our mailing list for more info.
- San Francisco Assets & Opportunities Network: Connected to a nationwide network of asset-building organizations from CFED, MAF is the Lead Local Organization for San Francisco.