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Improving the use of asset-building financial services by Latino immigrants in Langley Park, Maryland
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Throughout the country, low-income, Latino immigrant populations are more likely than others to have difficulty accessing financial services that meet their needs. Langley Park, Maryland, a community with a very large population of recent immigrants, is an ideal place to study this problem. We conducted an analysis of preexisting quantitative data and held a series of focus groups with Latino immigrants in Langley Park. We asked participants about their experiences with and knowledge of financial services. We found that mainstream financial institutions were not always meeting the needs of our target population. We concluded that being “banked” is not always preferable to being “unbanked” – rather, the products and services provided, not who the provider is, are most important. We developed a set of guidelines to help financial institutions (both mainstream and fringe), NGOs, and other local organizations develop financial products that meet the needs of our target population.