CFED Presenting at Grassroots & Groundwork Conference
By Ethan Geiling on 04/06/2012 @ 11:00 AM
CFED, in partnership with Rural Dynamics Inc. and Lakota Funds, will be presenting at the fifth national Grassroots & Groundwork conference, from June 6-8 in Prior Lake, Minnesota. The conference is devoted to showcasing innovative models and tools organizations across the country are using to help low-income people build sustainable prosperity. This year’s conference, centered around the theme “Working Together to Reduce Poverty and Build Prosperity,” will bring together upwards of 450 people from nonprofits, government agencies, educational organizations, anti-poverty programs and funding agencies.
Our 70-minute breakout session will highlight emerging collaborative public policy work and invite participants to take part in a movement for collaborative impact. Specifically, it will highlight the Assets and Opportunity Network, a national movement-oriented collaboration of state, local and tribal coalitions, as well as general members working to expand the reach and deepen the impact of strategies to help families become financially secure and build assets for the future. Session participants will discuss opportunities to build effective policy advocacy strategies in collaboration with others locally, in the region, and across the nation.
To find out more about our presentation and the conference, visit www.grassrootsandgroundwork.org.
New Hampshire's 100th Resident-Owned Community
By Craig Welch, Guest Contributor on 04/05/2012 @ 10:30 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: Today's Guest Contributor is Craig Welch. Craig is Vice President for Housing at the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund. The Inclusive Economy thanks Craig for his contribution and congratulates New Hampshire Community Loan Fund on their 100th resident-owned community.
People from more than 5,600 New Hampshire households, most of them low-income, have created affordable housing for themselves.
Quite an accomplishment, wouldn’t you say?
The strategy they’ve used takes courage, faith in the future and faith in themselves. But it results in housing that is stable and safe, and that helps them save money and build assets. It also results in improved neighborhoods and greater civic participation. And it generates property tax dollars for each of the 64 towns and cities where it is located.
They’re called resident-owned manufactured-housing communities, and earlier this month, a community in Derry became New Hampshire’s 100th.
New Hampshire’s first resident-owned community was created in Meredith in 1984. The elderly owners of a 13-home trailer park needed to sell it because they couldn’t keep up with the maintenance. At the time, real estate prices near Lake Winnipesaukee were sky-high as land was snapped up for condos and vacation homes. Long-time residents knew exactly what would happen if the park was sold.
“Most of us just figured we’d be thrown out, so we were looking for solutions – moving, buying something else, renting somewhere, just hanging in and hoping for the best,” one resident told a reporter.
A couple of residents looked into buying the park themselves, but they didn’t have the personal credit, or downpayment, for a loan. Remembering there’s strength in numbers, they organized the other residents into a cooperative and approached the banks as a group.
The banks still weren’t persuaded. Three said they wouldn’t lend to a cooperative. Two said that even as a cooperative, the families didn’t have sufficient credit. Then there was the group’s total lack of management experience, low incomes, and a leaky septic system that needed costly repairs. Few lenders thought that a newly formed group of volunteers could manage such an enterprise without bankrupting it.
But over the past 27 years, they’ve proven otherwise.
The Meredith group had been assisted by a graduate student who needed a community development project to complete her Master’s degree. Her professors connected her with a brand-new organization, the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund. The Community Loan Fund connected with the Sisters of Mercy, who wanted to put the money in their retirement fund to use for a good purpose. This project was the perfect fit.
The Meredith families had the purpose. The Sisters had the money. And the Community Loan Fund figured out how to get the deal done.
It would be 2½ years before the next park in New Hampshire converted to resident ownership, but then the idea concept exploded. Thirty-five parks converted in the next 10 years, and 46 in the decade after that.
In 27 years, not one of these communities has failed. Not one has been sold back to an outside company or investor.
Through the years, trailers evolved into mobile homes, which became today’s not-so-mobile manufactured homes. Today’s manufactured homes are built in factories to federal standards, are set on pads and foundations that are built to last, and cost very little to live in. These quality homes have become an important source of housing for young families, downsizing seniors and families with low incomes.
In many rural communities where rental apartments are scarce, manufactured homes are the best, and often the only, affordable housing.
Although some resident cooperatives buy their communities to avoid displacement, as did the Meredith residents, most want control the fees they pay to rent their lots (most residents in manufactured housing parks own their homes, but rent the land beneath them). Some also want to repair aging roads, electric or water systems.
The residents of Foxy Terrace Cooperative in Derry worked for five years, through false starts and disappointments, to buy their community. It was worth it, says president Russell Brooks.
Now, the residents will pay rent to themselves. “We can actually put the money into making it a better community … a community everybody wants to be proud to live in,” Brooks said.
That pride is on display at co-ops’ community cleanup days, and in their community gardens. Committees plan dances, cookouts, night sledding and pumpkin-carvings. Others look in regularly on elderly neighbors to be sure they’re cared for.
When Medvil Cooperative in Goffstown counted the number of volunteer hours its members had contributed in 2010, the answer was stunning: 50,000.
The largest of the resident-owned communities are multi-million-dollar enterprises, but they are run democratically by elected boards of directors and annual member meetings. Several graduates of the Community Loan Fund’s “boot camp” for new co-ops and/or annual leadership training have since been elected or appointed to serve in their town’s government.
One hundred co-ops isn’t just an achievement for the proud residents of these parks – it offers a lesson to all of us:
When people have the right tools (fair loans, training and technical assistance) at the right time, they can take control of their lives and change the course of their lives. Land renters become owners. Residents become leaders. And neighborhoods become communities, in the best senses of the word.
Vote for CFED to present at CFSI’s 7th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum!
By Michelle Nguyen on 04/04/2012 @ 01:00 PM
We need your help! In February, I submitted a proposal to lead and moderate a roundtable session at CFSI’s 7th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum in San Francisco from June 13-15. Roundtable sessions are informal discussions focused on a specific underbanked topic, and I proposed a session to discuss engaging financial institutions in Bank On programs, largely informed by a new CFED report called Partnerships You Can Bank On: Sustainable Financial Institution Engagement in Bank On Programs.
The proposed session would explore a key assumption underlying the Bank On model that financial institutions are able to serve un- and underbanked consumers in a way that is sustainable to their business operations. To the extent that financial access initiatives, like Bank On, need participation from private markets, we have much to learn about engaging financial institutions to serve this market sustainably.
Here’s where we need your help. CFSI is putting the proposed roundtable sessions to a public vote and, for each of four themed tracks, will select and brand the winning session as “Voter’s Choice.” CFSI will then select 8-12 proposals from the remaining entries as additional roundtable discussions. For information about all the proposed sessions, click here.
Vote for CFED’s session here (within the “Embrace Inclusion” track)! Voting comes to a close at midnight on April 13, so please spread the word. Thanks, and we appreciate the support!
Is Financial Education in Schools on the Decline?
By Ethan Geiling on 04/04/2012 @ 11:00 AM
States can help promote financial capability among children and youth by requiring that financial education be taught and tested in the classroom. Across the country, states have adopted a range of financial education policies, of varying strength and impact. States can: 1) require schools districts to include personal financial in curriculum standards; 2) require content standards to be implemented; 3) require districts to offer courses in personal finance; 4) require students to take a personal finance course; and 5) test student knowledge of personal finance concepts.
New data from the Council for Economic Education, however, shows that school-based financial education has plateaued and may even be on the decline.
Five states currently require school districts to test students on basic personal finance concepts in order to graduate from high school - the gold standard in state financial education policy. Unfortunately, this is down from nine states that required testing three years ago. Since 2009 six states (KY, MO, OH, OR, UT, WV) dropped the testing requirement and two states (KS and TN) added the requirement.
The number of states requiring students to take a personal finance course has been steadily rising over the past decade – from one state in 1998 to 13 states in 2009. But the number of states held steady from 2009 to 2011, with three states (AR, MD, OK) dropping the requirement and three states (MO, NC, WV) adding the requirement.
The number of states requiring a high school course in personal finance to be offered, which had also been rising over the past decade, declined from 15 states in 2009 to 14 states in 2011. Between 2009 and 2011, four states dropped the requirement (AR, MD, NM, OK) and three states added the requirement (MO, NC, WV).
The good news is that two more states include personal finance in state curriculum standards and two more states require standards to be implemented.
Overall, this downward trend in state financial education policy is worrisome, especially in light of the recent economic downturn. The ability to make informed judgments and effective decisions about money management can be as important a determinant of an individual’s long-term financial security as his or her income, health and education. From understanding the meaning of one’s credit score to possessing the necessary skills to balance a checkbook, financial capability is essential to a family’s ability to build and protect assets. As the subprime mortgage crisis and proliferation of predatory short-term loan products attests, the ability to discern between safe and dangerous financial products is especially important to low- and moderate-income families who often lack sufficient savings to weather an unforeseen loss.
Evaluation in Action: Demonstrating Results, Measuring Impact and Informing Change in Financial Capability
By Deborah Visser and Daria Sheehan, Citi Foundation on 04/03/2012 @ 10:45 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: To kick of financial education month, today's blog comes from Guest Contributors Deborah Visser and Daria Sheehan. Deborah is Director for Success Measures, Investments and Partnerships at NeighborWorks America, while Daria is Senior Program Officer at the Citi Foundation. Their post below describes some exciting evaluation measures, and CFED's VP for Policy & Research, Ida Rademacher, is honored to be presenting at the interim evaluation meeting today. We appreciate the work of Deborah, Daria and all of their colleagues at NeighborWorks America and the Citi Foundation for bringing the importance of financial education to the forefront of the national conversation.
The financial capability field is always looking for better, more rigorous ways to demonstrate results of financial coaching, financial education, housing, credit counseling and asset-building efforts on the lives of individuals and families. To address this need, the Citi Foundation joined a small group of funders and practitioners to collaborate with the Success Measures program (www.successmeasures.org) at NeighborWorks America to develop and field test a comprehensive set of financial capability outcome indicators and data collection instruments. We are excited by the prospect that these new tools will make it easier for practitioners to measure changes in low- and moderate-income consumers’ financial status, attitudes, behaviors, resilience and more. To encourage the financial capability sector to embed outcome measurement as a standard practice, The Success Measures Financial Capability Indicators and Tools are now available to the field free of charge.
What makes these tools distinct from other traditional measures that gauge the effectiveness of financial capability efforts is the inclusion of behavioral tools that address concrete things people do, as well as the strategies they employ to manage financial change over time. Data collected from The Success Measures Financial Capability Indicators and Tools can be tailored by community-based organizations to conduct structured conversations with clients on financial issues, inform changes in program design, and communicate results to a wide range of stakeholders. Financial capability funders, researchers and policymakers can analyze client data across multiple organizations working toward the same outcomes with the same set of shared, tested metrics to identify best practice, improve their understanding of factors that impact financial stability and promote innovation through public policy reform.
This collaborative field-building effort has already gained considerable traction. For example, the Youth Financial Empowerment (YFE) program in New York City has used the new tools to determine attitudes and behaviors regarding financial practices of youth in its program and is continuing to track changes over time. This will enable YFE to better help its clients cultivate a mindset about saving money that would support the transition from foster care to independence. In Oakland, the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) has been able to make use of the tools to help its clients begin to learn how to reduce their debt, while also beginning to accumulate savings.
To sustain the momentum of these and similar efforts, a two-year, $5 million grant from the Citi Foundation is supporting a scaling initiative aimed at delivering state-of-the-art financial education and coaching needed to enable families to build their savings, reduce debt and better manage their finances. As an important component of the initiative, 31 organizations are receiving training and technical assistance to use the Success Measures Financial Capability tools to conduct real-time evaluations of how the financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of their clients change over time.
We welcome your feedback on these new financial capability outcome evaluation tools and look forward to learning how practitioners are using them in their asset-building work. Check out the tools in the Citi-funded publication here: www.successmeasures.org/fctools.html.
Call for Research Papers: 2012 Assets Learning Conference
By Michelle Nguyen on 04/02/2012 @ 01:30 PM
I wanted to share an announcement about the Call for Research that CFED is disseminating for the 2012 Assets Learning Conference. I have copied parts of the Call for Research below, and you can see the full announcement here. We encourage you all to submit abstracts of your research! We are welcoming empirical, applied evaluation and policy research papers broadly related to asset building, financial inclusion and capability, household and consumer finances, and economic mobility issues. We will be accepting submissions until April 30, 2012. For any questions, please feel free to email me (email@example.com) or Kasey Wiedrich (firstname.lastname@example.org).
CFED, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, invite you to submit research papers to be considered for inclusion in a research forum entitled “Ideas Into Action: An Applied Research Forum for the Assets Field.” The forum will be held as part of CFED’s 2012 Assets Learning Conference (ALC), September 19-21, 2012, in Washington, DC.
The Assets Learning Conference (ALC) is a nationally-recognized biennial event that brings together over 1,000 professionals from leading nonprofits, foundations, financial institutions, corporations, academia and government to learn about programs, products and policies that help low-income households and communities build wealth and financial security. The Research Forum will be a key feature of the ALC, structured to showcase important recent developments in academic and applied research, and to spark dialogue among researchers, policymakers, advocates and practitioners that draws out the implications of the research for their work.
If you would like your research to be considered for inclusion in the forum, please submit a detailed abstract (1,000 words) for consideration by April 30, 2012. Authors of papers accepted for the conference will be notified by June 1, 2012 and are expected to provide completed working papers or drafts on or before August 1, 2012. Authors selected for the research forum will receive complimentary registration ($700) to the ALC and travel support that covers the cost of airfare and accommodation.
This call for papers is partially supported by the Social Security Administration Financial Literacy Research Consortium and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
“It’s What I Do, Not Who I Am”: A Behaviorally-Informed Hypothesis
By Sean Luechtefeld on 03/29/2012 @ 05:00 PM
In a brilliant display of nerd-dom, my friend, Jade, and I had a discussion at the dinner table the other night about the ways in which people make sense of their financial situations. Though perhaps geeky, it got me thinking about how service delivery should be informed by how people perceive their financial behavior.
Let me explain.
The conversation actually started in relation to our students. In addition to both working in the assets & opportunity field, Jade and I also teach at the University of Maryland. We were discussing some of the things that motivate our students. For example, when a student fails an exam, how do you encourage them to move forward and think about preparing well for the next exam, rather than dwelling on the last exam. The conclusion we came to is that students need to recognize that failing is something they did, but it isn’t who they are. In other words, they’re someone who struggled with an exam; they’re not an all-out failure. As another example, students who cheat – and get caught – ought to be told that they’re a student who made a bad decision, not that they themselves are cheaters. Unfortunately situations like these are just that: unfortunate situations. They do not define the entirety of one’s character.
This led Jade and I to think about the same logic applied to individuals and families who struggle financially. Indeed, we talk about the notion of financial literacy, suggesting that those who lack financial education are somehow illiterate. Of course, that’s not true, and in most cases, those who struggle with making on-time bill payments or who find it difficult to save are by no means incapable. They may struggle, but when it comes to managing resources, everyone is capable to some degree.
If you agree with this premise – and you may not – then doesn’t it make sense to ensure that people working to improve their financial futures can do so by encouraging them? Wouldn’t clients be better served by understanding that they are people who struggle with money, rather than financially illiterate or incapable? Research finds that the power of affirmation is undeniable; that when positioned to believe they are capable of making good financial decisions, even those with limited means can make strides toward financial stability. Of course, quite the opposite is also true; if someone believes they are destined to face financial hardship forever, then they no longer feel empowered to make well-informed financial decisions to begin with.
Of course, I readily admit that this is more a hypothesis than anything else. Nevertheless, it leads me to wonder: what would a behaviorally-informed research experiment that tests this hypothesis look like? Moreover, is there research that tests this hypothesis already? If you have answers to these questions – or want to play devil’s advocate – use the comments below.
Upcoming Event: Behavioral Economics at Tax Time
By Kim Pate on 03/27/2012 @ 03:45 PM
I’m not typically one for shameless self-promotion, but I’m really excited to share with you all information about an upcoming webinar that I am moderating. The webinar, co-presented with NeighborWorks America, is called “Applying Behavioral Economics for Improved Program Delivery and Greater Impact,” and it’s taking place on Tuesday, April 3 from 1 – 2 pm (Eastern).
As CFED’s Director of Entrepreneurship, I’m always working with partner organizations and folks working on-the-ground to identify ways to leverage tax time to the benefit of low-income entrepreneurs. What’s exciting about this webinar is that it explores that topic from the perspective of behavioral economics. It has also been designed to permit a more in-depth conversation than many webinars offer. The conversation will include CFED’s 2010 Innovator-in-Residence, Mindy Hernandez, and Foundation Communities’ Tax Services Manager Linda Paulson. The hour-long session will permit plenty of time for participants to jump in and ask questions, so I hope you’ll be able to join us.
You can find all of the details, including how to register, by visiting our Knowledge Center. Of course, if you have questions, you can also leave them below and we’ll be happy to answer them publicly. I hope to see you there!
The Road Less Traveled: Innovative Solutions in Rural IDA Programs
By Johanna Barrero on 03/26/2012 @ 05:00 PM
An Upcoming Webinar from the Assets for Independence (AFI) Resource Center
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | 12:30 – 1:30 pm PST / 3:30 – 4:30 pm EST
Rural Individual Development Account (IDA) programs face unique challenges for program delivery. Reaching a population dispersed in a vast geographic area, and where financial and other services are often limited can make it harder for IDA programs to recruit and support savers. Yet rural areas are also rich in other resources, especially their vibrant communities – making rural settings fertile ground for program innovation.
This webinar will describe some of the issues IDA programs face in rural areas, and will share effective solutions that rural AFI grantees have implemented for program recruitment, financial education and more.
This hour-long webinar will cover issues and challenges facing rural IDA programs, innovative delivery systems for IDAs in rural settings, leveraging technology to expand outreach efforts and deliver financial education, and resources for strategic partnerships.
- Angela Duran, AFI Regional Consultant (moderator)
- Karen Smith, Director of Outreach Services, Montana Credit Unions for Community Development
- Janet Topolsky, Co-Director, Community Strategies Group, Aspen Institute
Visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/896750728 to register now!
The webinar is free to all interested participants. In advance of the webinar, please send any questions you would like our panelists to address during the session to Johanna Barrero at email@example.com, or call 202.207.0117.
What Banks Could Learn From Fringe Financial Service Providers
By Sean Luechtefeld on 03/23/2012 @ 11:30 AM
Yesterday, I came across a New York Times article that I re-posted to JoinBankOn.org about the challenges facing those without bank accounts. The article was largely unremarkable for those of us working in the financial access field; it chronicles 45-year-old San Francisco resident Joey Macias, who, after a dispute with a major financial institution, turns to fringe financial service providers to access his paychecks and keeps any leftover cash at home.
While this story is all too familiar, what did strike me was the comment made by Anne Stuhldreher (longtime CFED friend and Senior Policy Fellow at New America Foundation), who was interviewed for the story. Anne’s argument is that financial institutions have a lot to learn from check cashers and other predatory lending outlets. First and foremost, “they’re convenient,” Anne says.
This got me thinking: what if your local Wells Fargo or Bank of America branch operated like a payday lender? To be sure, their fees shouldn’t be like those of the fringe financial service providers, and the terms and conditions of lending would need to be presented using transparent, easy-to-understand language. But, given those assumptions, what if?
For starters, payday lenders and check cashing outlets are everywhere, especially in low-income neighborhoods. The sheer number of outlets alone is a convenience that can really benefit a good portion of the population. In my community, for example, the national bank I use only has two branches within a 20-mile radius. Having more branches closer to home would be beneficial, especially for individuals who lack access to a car or who don’t live along good public transportation routes. Furthermore, as Anne points out, many of these outlets are open 24 hours a day. If banks and credit unions had 24-hour outlets, people could access their money before or after work without being forced to skip lunch breaks or take time off.
In addition to the convenience factor, banks might be in the position to offer check cashing services similar to those offered by payday lenders, but at much lower rates. The Times article indicates that major financial institutions are already providing credit to payday lenders; simply cutting out the middle person and offering those services directly to consumers would mitigate the cost to the consumer and the risk to the institution.
Ultimately, it might not be the perfect system; a zero percent unbanked rate is unlikely any time in the near future. But, payday lenders and check cashing outlets offer a valuable service, albeit one that is far too costly, especially for those most likely to use them. If these same services were offered with lower (or no) costs, it would be a win-win for consumers and service providers alike. Banks and credit unions seem ideally positioned to offer such products.
Next Week: AFI Program Managers Conference Call Series
By Johanna Barrero on 03/22/2012 @ 12:00 PM
Did your organization recently get its first Assets for Independence (AFI) grant – or are you the new IDA manager for an established AFI program? If so, you are cordially invited to participate in a conference call designed specifically for new AFI program managers and staff.
This friendly, informal conversation will give you a chance to ask questions and share ideas or concerns about getting started with your AFI program. No question is too large or small!
Your input will be solicited in advance to guide the agenda, so that each call is geared toward the areas of most interest to the group. The calls will be very interactive, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to ask questions. You’ll also learn about tools and resources that you can put to use right away. Each call will be facilitated by AFI coaches with many years of experience in the field.
The next series of calls will be offered on two dates:
- Monday, March 26: 12:00 – 1:00 pm Pacific / 3:00 – 4:00 pm Eastern
- Tuesday, March 27: 12:00 – 1:00 pm Pacific / 3:00 – 4:00 pm Eastern
Advanced registration is required, which you can access here. When registering, you'll be asked to select your preferred date and to indicate any topics you'd like to see covered during the call. Once you register, dial-in instructions will be sent to you via email.
Cooperative Solutions to Affordable Housing Needs: Helping Rural Seniors Age in Place, Build Wealth and Preserve Community Interest
By Lauren Williams on 03/21/2012 @ 12:30 PM
On Monday, March 19, CFED President Andrea Levere and Director of Affordable Housing Initiatives, Rick Haughey, participated in a Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) event exploring connections between cooperative housing and affordable housing for seniors in rural America. This day-long forum included speakers from federal agencies, nonprofit national intermediaries like CFED, social ventures, national research organizations and even local practitioners. The presenters were experts on the affordable housing needs of seniors, affordable housing needs of rural communities, and issues and opportunities particular to manufactured housing as a source of affordable homeownership.
The day’s agenda wove a compelling story of the critical housing needs of an aging rural population and the opportunities that abound for leveraging cooperative manufactured housing communities to fill that need. Manufactured housing can be incredibly more affordable, more energy efficient, and more quickly constructed than site-built housing, and when placed in a cooperatively-owned manufactured home community, offers homeowners an opportunity to build wealth plus perpetual security of land tenure and consistently affordable housing costs of which they have full control. The human capital flight or “brain drain” of young, more highly-educated individuals from rural areas to more urban locations is a core driver behind rural areas’ increasingly older populations. Though the aging of our rural regions is a well-known trend, the continuum of housing choices for seniors in rural places has not quite caught up to their shifting needs and still features several gaps.
This event offered up cooperatives as a solution that helps members age in place and build wealth while preserving community interest, particularly in rural areas and particularly for seniors in need of affordable housing alternatives. Attendees were reminded of the value of cooperatives by USDA Rural Development Rural Business and Cooperative Programs administrator Judy Canales, whose department supports cooperatives with grants and technical assistance. We were also reminded of the resilience, success and the overall soundness of the cooperative model by Terry Simonette of NCB Capital Impact, who has financed hundreds of cooperative building loans, all of which are still operating successfully today (and none of which are in default) in spite of the recent economic crisis.
Stacey Epperson of Next Step, Mike Sloss of ROC USA, Rick Haughey of CFED, and Charlotte Thompson of the Foundation for Rural Housing in Wisconsin all recommended another logical but often overlooked twist to the cooperative solution to rural seniors’ affordable housing needs—manufactured housing. At the crux of the I’M HOME initiative is our aim to ensure that this type of housing performs as an asset-building tool like any other homeownership opportunity, and cooperative ownership of the land beneath manufactured homes in a community affords homeowners both the freedom and control to determine the future of what is often their greatest asset—their home. In a planned manufactured home community in Wisconsin developed by the Foundation for Rural Housing, a group of seniors was able to select a central location near critical services, form a cooperative and secure grant funds to purchase the land, and purchase homes with universal design. Many audience members expressed interest in taking the model one step further, and asked about the opportunity to leverage the central location of this community of seniors to develop a set of support services—like home health care provision—with other local cooperatives.
The day included many more compelling speakers and presentations, and it was especially encouraging to see so many influential partners lifting up cooperative models for manufactured housing community ownership as a solution to the challenges that face rural seniors and so many other Americans
The whole event was recorded, and should be made available on the CDF website soon.
CFED Launches Improved IDAnetwork Listserv
By Stephanie Halligan on 03/20/2012 @ 12:00 PM
CFED is pleased to announce the release of the new and improved IDAnetwork listserv!
Are you a practitioner, policymaker, or advocate and would like to stay up to date with the ideas and conversations happening in the Individual Development Account (IDA) field? Join the IDAnetwork listserv today! As a member of the IDAnetwork listserv, you can exchange information and ideas with fellow providers about how to best structure IDA initiatives and policies that enable low-income families and individuals to save, build wealth, and contribute to the nation's continued economic growth.
IDAnetwork listserv members are now able to browse past listserv activity with the IDAnetwork Private Archives. Once logged in, members are able to search in any past listserv threads for key terms related to IDA programs, such as “Asset Limits,” “TANF,” or “Funding.”
For more information and to join the listserv, please visit the IDAnetwork List Information page.
Register Today for Joining Forces: Creating Successful IDA Networks
Posted on 03/19/2012 @ 02:30 PM
Wednesday, March 21, 3:30-4:30 p.m. EDT / 12:30-1:30 p.m. PDT
An upcoming webinar from the Assets for Independence Resource Center
We’ve all heard the phrase “there’s strength in numbers” – and many IDA programs have taken it to heart. Across the country, many programs have created IDA networks or collaborative partnerships in order to work more efficiently. In these models, a group of IDA providers work together to deliver services and share essential responsibilities such as account monitoring, reporting, fundraising and more.
This webinar will describe how AFI grantees have built strong networks, share lessons on the power of joining forces, and offer ideas for IDA providers interested in joining an existing network or starting a new one.
This hour-long webinar will cover:
- Reasons for creating or joining a network
- Establishing effective partnerships within a network
- Establishing policies and procedures for IDA network projects
- Providing training to sub-grantees
- Allocating funding based on program performance
- Leveraging resources and serving special populations
- Denise DeVaan, Senior Consultant, ICF International (moderator)
- Heidi Henderson, Regional IDA Coordinator, OHLSA, A community Action Agency
- Ed Khashadourian, President and CEO, Opportunity to Assets
- Mary O’Doherty, Economic Empowerment Project Director, Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
- Gosia Tomaszewska, Asset Development Program Director, The Midas Collaborative
Click here to register now! The webinar is free to all interested participants. In advance of the webinar, please send any questions you would like our panelists to address during the session to Johanna Barrero, or call 202.207.0117.
Cooperative Solutions for Affordable Senior Housing in Rural America
By Lauren Williams on 03/16/2012 @ 09:45 AM
A Role for Energy-Efficient Manufactured Housing Cooperatives
Monday, March 19, 2012, 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
National Press Club
529 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20045
On Monday, March 19, CFED President Andrea Levere and Director of Affordable Housing Initiatives Rick Haughey will participate in a Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) event exploring connections between cooperative housing and affordable housing for seniors in rural America. CDF has been supporting cooperative enterprise around the world for over 65 years, engaging in educational programming, public outreach activities and management of grant and loan funds. Since the inception of I’M HOME, CFED has partnered with organizations interested in addressing the ownership and financing of manufactured housing communities. We have done so because we recognize that homeowners in land-lease communities face particular challenges in their efforts to attain economic security and build assets. In particular, our partnership with ROC USA® is poised to take cooperative resident-ownership of manufactured home communities to scale as a strategy for preserving communities and protecting homeowners’ land tenure.
Manufactured homes are a popular lifestyle option for older Americans: the median age of owners of manufactured homes is 52 and nearly half of all owners are over the age of 55. An estimated 43% of all owners of manufactured homes own their homes but rent the land beneath them—many of those are seniors. The 50,000 manufactured home communities in the US present special challenges to homeowners seeking to build wealth and achieve financial security.
Some land-lease communities are maintained well by owners who treat the homeowners fairly, but others are rundown and exhibit failing infrastructure and unfair practices. Even in the best communities, however, homeowners can’t plan for the future because they never know when rents might be raised, the community might be sold to another owner, or turned into a strip mall or high-end subdivision. In many states, land owners can sell the community to another owner, or even evict the homeowners and use the land for something else, on short notice, and homeowners have few rights. This undermines homeowners’ ability to build equity, and makes financing even harder to come by.
Cooperative resident-ownership of manufactured home communities provides an ideal solution to almost all of those challenges. At Monday’s event, CFED’s Rick Haughey will participate in a panel alongside other key I’M HOME partners—Mike Sloss, Managing Director of ROC USA Capital and Stacey Epperson, President & CEO of Next Step—about manufactured housing as a new option for cooperative housing. Andrea Levere will deliver a luncheon keynote address, with remarks on the importance of affordable housing. Other long-time I’M HOME partners, NCB Capital Impact and Housing Assistance Council will be featured at this event as well.
Interested in attending? You can register online here.
Recent State Policy Action
By Ethan Geiling on 03/15/2012 @ 01:30 PM
There has been a lot of state policy action across the country. Below are the latest updates from some of CFED’s Assets & Opportunity Scorecard policy priorities:
- College Savings Victory: To help Missouri families save money for higher education, the state has partnered with the 529 College Savings Plan Program to start a matching grant program. Families with incomes below $74,999 are eligible for a dollar for dollar match up to $500 per year. $500,000 in matching grants will be available through the grant program over the next four years. Missouri joins 12 other states that currently provide incentives for making deposits into 529 college savings plans.
- Momentum Building to Curb Predatory Short-Term Lending: According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 21 states have pending legislation related to payday and small dollar lending. At the federal level, 250 advocates signed a letter urging federal regulators to end the predatory practice of bank payday lending.
- Tax Credits for Working Families: Threats - Kansas and Oklahoma are proposing to eliminate or significantly reduce state tax credits for working families, including the states’ Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs), which are set at 17% and 5% of the federal credit, respectively. Advocates in North Carolina are fighting to extend their state EITC, rather than letting it expire after tax year 2012. Victories and opportunities - Virginia passed legislation strengthening its EITC by incorporating the federal EITC expansions adopted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into the state version of the credit for tax year 2012. A number of states – including Michigan, Maryland, New Jersey, Iowa and Utah – are considering increasing their state EITCs. Click here for a more comprehensive update from taxcreditsforworkingfamilies.org.
- Asset Limits in TANF: The Hawaii legislature is considering a number of bills that would raise or eliminate asset limits in public assistance programs. SB 2178 would increase the asset limit in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from $5,000 to $15,000; SB 2936 would eliminate the asset limit in TANF; and HB 2685 would raise the asset limit in certain public assistance programs to $10,000. To date, five states – Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Louisiana and Alabama – have taken the positive step of eliminating the asset test in TANF.
- Financial Education in Schools: New data from the Council for Economic Education shows mixed results over the past two years. As of 2011, 46 states require school districts to include personal financial in their curriculum standards – up from 46 states in 2009. However, only five states require student testing of personal finance concepts - down from nine states in 2009. Research shows that college students from states that require a mandatory financial education course as a condition of high school graduation are more likely to create and adhere to a budget and less likely to engage in risky credit behaviors.
A&O Member David Rothstein Testifying about Prepaid Cards Today
By Ethan Geiling on 03/14/2012 @ 11:00 AM
Today, David Rothstein from Policy Matters Ohio is testifying to the Senate Banking Committee in a hearing entitled “Examining Issues in the Prepaid Card Market.” Policy Matters Ohio is a Lead State Organization in the Assets & Opportunity Network, and Rothstein is a member of the A&O Network Steering Committee.
The other witnesses testifying are:
- Lauren Saunders, Managing Attorney, National Consumer Law Center
- Daniel R. Henry, Chief Executive Officer, NetSpend Holdings, Inc.
- Rick Fischer, Partner, Morrison & Foerster
- Jennifer Tescher, President and CEO, Center for Financial Services Innovation
In Ohio, unemployed workers have two options for receiving their unemployment compensation: direct deposit into a transaction account or through a prepaid card. Rothstein will talk about his experience with ReliaCard – the prepaid card unemployed workers in Ohio can use to receive benefits. Forty-one states allow workers to receive unemployment compensation through a prepaid card.
Rothstein’s testimony is based on three premises:
- Low- and moderate-income families need and deserve full transparency and disclosure of fees associated with prepaid debit cards. Many consumers receiving benefits through a prepaid card don’t understand the fees associated with the card, which often leads to unpleasant surprises. Rothstein recommends a standardized box on contracts for prepaid cards that clearly displays fees and costs.
- Prepaid debit cards, particularly cards with public benefits and tax returns loaded on to them, should not have features that add high fees such as overdraft charges and balance inquiry. Although ReliaCard is not riddled with fees, the fees on cards in other states can be much worse. These fees should be minimized or eliminated.
- The prepaid debit card market should not be a replacement but rather a complement to other financial products that build and manage assets for working families. For example, most prepaid cards do not have linked savings accounts or other tools that help families build assets. Without a safe place to save and invest, it is more difficult for families to build assets and climb the economic ladder.
New Resource: Podcast on Tax Benefits for Entrepreneurs
By Sean Luechtefeld on 03/13/2012 @ 11:30 AM
As you may remember, CFED Founder Bob Friedman spoke earlier this year at the Big Ideas for Job Creation Forum, after the ideas presented in his paper on tax benefits for entrepreneurs were named as one of the top five job creation strategies by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UC Berkeley.
Last month, John Olson of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta sat down with Bob to discuss in further detail some of the ideas. That interview has been podcast and is now available for download at the FRB-Atlanta website. There’s also a transcript of the interview there, where you can learn about the ideas presented, which are based on the work CFED has been doing to promote its Self-Employment Tax Initiative (SETI).
I encourage you to download the podcast or read the transcript, and if you have any questions for Bob, don’t hesitate to use the comments section below!
Coming Soon: Credit Union Engagement in Manufactured Home Financing
Credit Unions and Financing Manufactured Homes: Opportunities & Innovations, Thursday, April 5, 3:30 - 5:00 pm EDT / 12:30-2:00 pm PDT
Co-presented by I'M HOME, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and Fair Mortgage Collaborative
Financing manufactured home purchases and refinances can be a viable and effective community development activity for credit unions. This webinar explains the characteristics of the low- and moderate-income market and highlights the successful and distinctive approaches taken by two community credit unions – BECU in Washington State and Self-Help Credit Union, a community development credit union based in North Carolina. Credit unions, finance professionals and MH stakeholders can learn about cutting-edge credit union innovations as well as findings from data analysis of almost $1.5 billion in MH loan data reported by I’M HOME’s Single Family Finance initiative.
- Terri J. Fowlkes, Director, Community Development Investments, NFCDCU
- Susan Akins, Mortgage Product Development Manager, BECU
- Philip Swayzee, Senior Mortgage Lending Specialist, BECU
- Lewis Dancy, Assistant Director, Mortgage Lending, Self-Help Credit Union
- Howard Banker, Executive Director, Fair Mortgage Collaborative
- Anne Li (moderator), Program Director, Innovation, CFED
About the 2012 Manufactured Housing Webinar Series
Regardless of the economic landscape, affordable housing persists as a challenge in many communities across the country. Manufactured housing is a high-quality, affordable choice for many homeowners. I’M HOME and our partners work to assure that manufactured housing becomes a part of the national affordable housing strategy, which is a task that faces a range of challenges. Overcoming these challenges requires policy, legislative, financing, market and political actions at the federal, state and local levels. This webinar series is designed to inform key stakeholders about strategies for overcoming those challenges, lift up examples of successful strategies, and enhance communication among advocates, developers, stakeholders and public officials about how to make those strategies work.
Who Should Participate?
The 2012 Manufactured Housing Webinar Series is intended for affordable housing developers and advocates, state and local public officials, federal agency officials, financial institution professionals and other stakeholders interested in promoting quality, affordable housing options in their communities.
What You Will Learn?
The 2012 Manufactured Housing Webinar Series will provide practical information on the opportunities for manufactured housing as an affordable housing strategy and will delve into issues that affect legislative, regulatory and market-based strategies for doing so. The series will focus on the intersection of building a local, federal and state policy landscape and improved financing system that supports owners of manufactured housing and will highlight case studies that have successfully leveraged strong policies to help homeowners build assets.
The 2012 Manufactured Housing Webinar Series is free of charge, thanks to the generous support of our funders, including the Ford Foundation and Fannie Mae. Space is limited so we encourage you to register early. All webinars will be archived on our website if you are not able to join us.
Tuesday: Financial Institution Partnerships for IDA Programs
By Johanna Barrero on 03/09/2012 @ 04:00 PM
Tuesday, March 13, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. PDT / 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. EDT
Want to know what to look for when approaching a bank or credit union as a partner for your Individual Development Account (IDA) program? Join us for this webinar and learn how to create strong partnerships (and strengthen existing ones) with financial institutions. We’ll also provide an overview of the Community Reinvestment Act, how it affects banks’ investment in the community, and how you can leverage it to develop effective IDA collaborations.
This hour-long webinar will include:
- Account features that are needed or desirable for IDA programs
- Internal processes that must be developed and in place in a financial institution to offer IDAs
- How to develop agreements and accountability systems to promote effective partnerships with financial institutions
- Unique features of bank and credit union partnerships with IDA programs
- Lynette Bell, First Vice President of Community Development at SunTrust Bank
- Janet Hamer, Senior Community Development Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
- Brendan Wilbur, IDA Coordinator, Alternatives Federal Credit Union
- Amy Shir, AFI Regional Consultant (moderator)
Visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/638096041 to register now!
The webinar is free to all interested participants. In advance of the webinar, please send any questions you would like our panelists to address during the session to Johanna Barrero at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 202-207-0117.
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