With a first-of-its-kind effort, federal officials are looking to provide hands-on assistance to help people with disabilities become more financially independent.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said this week said that it will launch the ROADS to Financial Independence initiative as a pilot program in six communities across the nation.

Through local partner agencies, individuals with disabilities who are currently working or transitioning into the workforce will be offered access to financial counseling alongside employment, independent living and other more traditional support services.

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“Historically, people with disabilities have been excluded from the economic mainstream,” said Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “The ROADS to Financial Independence initiative aims to help provide them with the proper support and services to lead financially healthy and independent lives.”

Research suggests that with high unemployment, many people with disabilities have no savings for emergencies and they are more likely to rely on alternative financial services like payday loans and check cashing.

Those participating in the new program will be given an assessment and then paired with a financial counselor who will help them open a bank account, create a budget and set and achieve goals. Over five years, officials said they expect to assist 14,000 individuals with disabilities.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it will focus on establishing best practices for helping people with disabilities improve their financial situation that can be replicated.

The program will be managed by the National Disability Institute and operated by 19 organizations in six communities — Austin, Texas; Birmingham, Ala.; the Finger Lakes region in New York; Seattle, Wash.; the state of Delaware and in the Washington, DC metro area.

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