Detroit is a subprime city with most of its residents falling behind on debt payments, according to a study by the Urban Institute.
Two out of 3 residents of the Motor City have debt in collections, meaning that it's six months past due, the study says. The average size of the past-due debt is $1,847, greater than the U.S. median of $1,541. One of three Americans has debt in collections.
“Sixty-six percent of Detroit residents have a subprime or no credit score, only 19 percent have healthy credit, and 68 percent have delinquent debt,” according to the report, which studies data from Dublin-based credit-data firm Experian Plc. “City-level programs and policies could be implemented to help Detroit’s residents improve their financial health.”
While a good chunk of the past-due bills are related to health care, 13 percent is classified as government debt such as utilities or parking tickets.
“These government debts unpaid by Detroit residents directly affect the city’s financial health, because the government relies upon these revenues,” the Urban Institute says.
Detroit filed for the biggest public sector bankruptcy in 2013 as the city couldn’t keep up with payments for debt service and pension. The city’s financial disarray led to a breakdown in city services, with police taking almost an hour to respond to emergency calls, compared with a national average of 11 minutes, according to CNN.
The Urban Institute recommends that Detroit resident take steps to improve their financial health.
“Detroit residents could improve their credit reports and potentially their credit scores by routinely checking for inaccuracies,” the report says, citing data that show 26 percent of credit reports contains an error. “Paying debt on time is a key factor weighted on a credit report, and keeping credit card usage ratios at 30 percent or less also weighs heavily in credit score calculations.”
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