Proposals supporting the accumulation of assets in poor households are hopeful of creating upward mobility. The experiences of poor families in managing assets and other elements of daily economic life were explored through interviews with low-income Hispanic and Anglo families. All families exhibited planning and management skills needed for assets accumulation, but were unable to escape the effects of unrewarding neighborhood environments. Assets did not provide clear avenues out of poverty. If assets-based programs are to raise the economic status of poor families in extreme poverty neighborhoods they must include mechanisms to protect value and reduce uncertainty.

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