New Trend Data: Create Your Own Custom Graphs and Reports
By Lebaron Sims on 04/10/2013 @ 12:30 PM
Among the more exciting innovations of this year’s Assets & Opportunity Scorecard release is the new Custom Reports and Graphics center, which lets visitors create and download their own handouts and comparative charts using the Scorecard’s 69 outcome and 33 policy measures. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a brief description of what you’ll find:
State Profile Report: The classic report you might be familiar with from previous Scorecards has been given an update. New graphics on the first page highlight your state’s asset poverty rate and six additional outcomes of your choosing, while the rest of the report details your state’s performance on all 69 outcome and 33 policy measures. It’s the full Scorecard experience, in an easy-to-use four-pager.
State Policy Profile: How does your state perform on the Scorecard’s 12 policy priority measures? Find out with this simple one-pager that breaks down what policies your state has passed, and where there’s room for improvement. Helpful graphics make it easy to find state strengths and weaknesses, while the customizable menu lets you to choose whichever policy priorities you’d like to highlight, allowing for anything from a general “State of the State” report to a targeted “Education Policy” profile.
Custom Data Report: Wonder how your state compares to others in specific Scorecard outcome measures? Head to the Custom Data Report, where you’ll be able to create a one-pager listing your state’s national rank and performance alongside four others (and the United States) for up to seven outcome measures. The one-pager includes bar graphs that visualize the between-state difference, while the brief outcome definitions help advocates better make the case for their policy or research proposals.
Custom Data Charts: Want to compare states across one particular outcome measure, but need a presentation graphic, not a report? Check out the State Comparison Data Chart, which lets you compare your state to four others (and the United States) in any of the 69 Scorecard outcome measures. Or, if you want to see how your state compares nationally, try the National Comparison Data Chart, which shows your state’s performance in relation to all 51 states and the national average. Paste either of the files into your reports and presentations, or onto your website, to help make the case for your state’s asset-building policies.
Asset Poverty Snapshot: Need to talk asset poverty in your state, but don’t have a graphic to back you up? The Asset Poverty Snapshot tool lets you quickly and easily download a graphic comparing your state’s income poverty, asset poverty, and liquid asset poverty rates. This tool also creates an embeddable graphic, for use in any media.
While we introduced each of the above as part of the 2013 Scorecard release, as of this past week, advocates have a new tool in their arsenal:
Trend Data Charts: Track your state’s movement over time in all sixteen Scorecard outcome trend measures, from foreclosure to uninsured rate, asset poverty to microenterprise ownership. Select any available measure, then compare your state’s performance with up to three others (and the United States). Just like with the other custom graphics, you can embed your Trend Data Chart into any report, presentation tool, or website.
With these new reporting instruments, telling a story with the Scorecard has never been easier. Head to the Custom Reports and Graphics hub now, and create visuals for your next presentation or report. (Or, you know, just for fun. We don’t judge.)
RSVP Today For A Foot in the Door to the American Dream: A Forum on College Savings Accounts
By Veronica Weis on 04/09/2013 @ 04:00 PM
A Lunchtime Policy Forum Sponsored by CFED & Opportunity Nation
Thursday, May 9, 2013 | Noon - 1:30 pm
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room G-50, Washington, DC
Lunch available at 11:45 am
- Andrea Levere, President, CFED
- Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE)
Screening of “A Foot in the Door” with introductory remarks by Jose Cisneros, Treasurer for the City and County of San Francisco. “A Foot in the Door” is a short movie that tells the story of Kindergarten to College, the first universal children’s savings account program in the United States. Launched by the City and County of San Francisco, the program automatically provides a college savings account to children when they start kindergarten.
- Mark Edwards, Executive Director, Opportunity Nation
- Leigh Tivol, Director, Savings & Financial Security, CFED
- Amer Sajed, CEO, Barclaycard US
- Cindy Wallace, Vice Chancellor for Student Development, Appalachian State University
A college degree for their child is the aspiration of almost every parent in America. Unfortunately, soaring tuition and the burden of out-of-control student debt threaten to make this important pathway to economic security increasingly out of reach for too many families. One solution, Children’s Savings Accounts, has proven to be an effective method of helping children (especially low- and moderate-income children) go to and complete college. With so many of the available jobs in our 21st century economy requiring a degree or credential beyond high school, we must build strong ladders of opportunity for any student or family willing to climb them.
At this lunch event, some of the nation’s top experts on children’s savings, asset development and higher education success from various sectors will offer their ideas on how to help families save (as early as kindergarten) to make an investment in their children’s future. This event is free, but space is limited, so RSVP today by clicking 'Reply' or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to register is May 3.
Join the conversation on Twitter by following @CFEDNews and #CFEDforum!
From Saver to Homeowner: Manuel Nava's Story
By Bank of the West on 04/08/2013 @ 01:00 PM
To help families achieve the goal of homeownership, Bank of the West has partnered with CFED to match the money that low-income individuals save for a down payment and to support the nonprofits that provide financial education to these savers. As part of Financial Literacy Month in April, this is the second story in a three-part series featuring Individual Development Account (IDA) program graduates from across the country.
Manuel Nava's Story
Manuel Nava and his wife bought their first home in 2012. While it only took them about two months to find the right house, their journey to homeownership took much longer.
Originally from Mexico, Manuel and his wife came to Oregon as farmworkers, living in housing owned by Bienestar, a nonprofit organization that also helped them find their first home. Although Manuel was a citizen, his wife was not, which made it difficult to settle in Oregon permanently or even consider homeownership. The couple yearned for a family-friendly home with a yard for their four children, and had begun saving for a down payment. However, in order for Manuel’s wife to gain citizenship, she had to go back to Mexico and wait while Manuel took care of the legal process with the state of Oregon. During this time of separation, Manuel kept his focus on saving for his home and supporting his family. “[The long separation] was frustrating and it broke my heart,” Manuel says.
After about five years of legal battles, Manuel and his family were reunited, and his wife became a citizen. Having wiped out their savings in legal and reunification fees, the family started again to save for a home and got a boost in savings from the Individual Development Account program at Bienestar. “I had to keep believing,” says Manuel. “I knew that we could do it.” Together, the whole family sat down and talked about their finances as a household and what each of them could do, coming up with $150 a month in discretionary money after looking where their money was going. Manuel and his family did not stop at the $3000 savings goal; they saved an additional $2000 for their home.
Reflecting on his experience in saving for his home, Manuel expresses pride that he set a goal and achieved it, adding that after all the family has been through, their new home also gives them a new beginning: “At this house, we can start over.”
Flippin' Half Smokes At Peep's Chili Bowl
By Kristin Lawton on 04/08/2013 @ 11:00 AM
For over 30 years, CFED has worked hard to identify solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing low- and moderate-income Americans. Our list of accomplishments is long, and CFED is an industry leader in expanding economic opportunity and building assets for all Americans.
Occasionally, CFED staff take a break from advancing the assets movement to do some work along somewhat different lines. Each spring, a group of us at CFED gets together to build a diorama out of Peeps – those sugar-coated, marshmallow-y bunnies that inundate the market every year around Easter – and enter it into the Washington Post’s Peeps Diorama contest.
This is not a joke.
This year, the team placed in the top five out of over 650 entries! The team of seven – Kristin Lawton, Kasey Wiedrich, Ethan Geiling, Lebaron Sims, Sean Luechtefeld, Roberto Arjona and former CFEDer Jane Hanley – was recognized by The Washington Post for their creativity in portraying the iconic U Street haunt, Ben's Chili Bowl.
The diorama and the team was featured in the March 31st edition of the Washington Post Magazine:
If you apply for a job at the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a nonprofit that helps low-income Americans, you should be prepared for Peeps to pop up in your interview. This office team has submitted dioramas for five of our seven contests. By now, diorama-building has become a skill the 40-person organization seeks in applicants.
In 2011, the group was named finalists for its Peepification of Transportation Security Administration agents at Reagan National Airport. The team tries to focus on local scenes, and as many of the members live in the U Street corridor, Ben’s Chili Bowl, in operation since 1958, was a natural choice for the contest.
“It’s such an important part of the U Street community,” said Ethan Geiling, 24. “It brings together an eclectic mix of people at all hours. We were surprised no one had done it before.”
In the team’s homage to the U Street haunt, President Obama visits Peep’s Chili Bowl with his Secret Service detail while the injured Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III waits outside. The team photographed Ben’s to help them scale the diorama. They dressed some of the Peeps in aprons and illuminated the restaurant with a strand of holiday lights. The structure is built out of foam board, and accessories — the Secret Service agents’ ties or the cash register — are made out of painted sculpting clay.
You can vote for fan favorite by clicking here or if you're in the DC area, you can check out the Peeps dioramas in person outside the Washington Post offices through the end of the month.
Asset-Building News Roundup - April 5, 2013
By Veronica Weis on 04/05/2013 @ 03:00 PM
The Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is hosting a webinar, Family Financial Security Webinar: Promoting Financial Capability Building Services with Families in Head Start, on Tuesday, April 9th. For more information, click here.
Don't miss the latest audioconference in the Exploring Innovation in Community Development series, Case Management: A Holistic Approach to Asset Building, on Thursday, April 11th. Our very own Kate Griffin, Senior Program Manager for Savings & Financial Security, is a speaker on the panel.
On Wednesday, April 24th, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) will host Scaling Innovations for Low-Income Families at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, DC. Click here to register.
An article in The Economist this week recognizes that despite aging populations and rising educational costs in America, the savings rate has been steadily falling and proposes savings incentives as a form of reversing this troubling trend.
As inequality increases, how can we address this issue in the US? Nick Galasso at Oxfam America offers seven possibilities in this blog post.
As part of Curious George's digital makeover, publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is adding in some new and important life lessons for the beloved children's character. The narratives will feature city planning and fiscal responsibility tailored to a preschooler. An accompanying app to the print book Curious George Saves His Pennies will award coins when children complete tasks and encourages them to save up to buy objects that eventually populate a digital city of the child's creation.
To kick off Financial Literacy Month, BET has launched Wealth Wednesdays, an educational campaign with information on credit, debt, saving and investing and the path to successful homeownership — all strategies to help grow wealth and help build a solid financial legacy for generations to tackle expanding wealth inequality in the African-American community.
From the Assets & Opportunity Network
The Opportunity Fund released a new report this week, U.S. Microfinance: Small Loans, Big Results. Conducted in collaboration with the Accion U.S. Network, the report analyzes results from the first-ever nationwide survey of microloan borrowers in America. The report measures outcomes from Opportunity Fund and five Accion affiliate’s lending, and answers the fundamental question that drives our work: Do the loans we offer reduce poverty by helping the business owner to increase their own income and pay wages to their employees? We answered this question using the microTracker Client Outcomes Survey, developed by FIELD at The Aspen Institute, a think tank that has worked with more than 100 U.S.-based microenterprise programs. Key findings can be read here.
The Illinois Asset Building Group put together a brief legislative update for the month of April on the issues that are gaining momentum.
More on the Strength of Mortgages for Manufactured Homes
By Greg Zagorski, National Council of State Housing Agencies on 04/05/2013 @ 10:30 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: This post originally appeared on the blog of the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA). Special thanks to Greg Zagorski for covering the release of the I'M HOME Data Report.
On March 20, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), through its Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’M HOME) initiative, released a study analyzing manufactured home loan performance. The report, which summarizes the analysis of mortgage data from 20 sources, including 13 state HFAs, says manufactured home loans perform similarly, and in some cases better, than similar site-built homes. NCSHA assisted in the report’s development and attended a roundtable last month to discuss a draft version. Other roundtable participants included NCSHA President Brian Hudson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, and David Haney, executive director of the Wyoming Community Development Association.
The study finds that HFA loan products generally outperform similar loan products, and that manufactured home mortgages can serve low- and moderate-income borrowers who cannot afford large down payments and may not have top-tier credit scores, while still performing well. For example, the report says HFA-purchased USDA guaranteed loans have a non-delinquency rate of 82.3 percent, compared to 76.8 percent for all USDA guaranteed loans. This is despite the fact that HFA-purchased loans have a higher weighted loan-to-value ratio than non-HFA loans in the USDA guaranteed program. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) and the Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA) are credited specifically for their exemplary manufactured housing lending programs.
Comparing its manufactured home loan data to Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) data on mostly site-built homes, CFED finds that manufactured home loans not insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which includes loans originated by private lenders and HFAs, had a non-delinquency rate of 90.3 percent, while the OCC loans had a performance rate of 89.2 percent. USDA manufactured home loans had a performance rate of 77.9 percent, but the report explains that some lenders and investors have portfolios of USDA loans that perform well.
The report finds that traditional underwriting standards, such as a borrower’s credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and loan-to-value ratio, are strongly associated with performance, but that manufactured housing loans can be successful without following the traditional criteria. For example, the study finds that manually underwritten self-insured loans following less stringent underwriting standards perform slightly better than conventional loans with mortgage insurance. The report also finds that lenders and HFAs that practice “high-touch” servicing (reaching out early and often to late-paying borrowers and offering short and long-term loan adjustments and loan modifications as may be required) enjoy strong performance on manufactured home loans. The report praises PHFA and IHFA specifically for their customer-driven servicing policies and the large proportion of their portfolios that are non-delinquent (97.5 percent average combined) of their manufactured home loans.
The report concludes with some recommendations. First, citing a lack of comprehensive data, CFED calls for the collection of additional data and analysis on affordable manufactured home loans to help attract more lenders and investors. This includes a recommendation that NCSHA and state HFAs work with government officials and private sector parties to develop loan data delivery protocols that ensure that manufactured loan data can be tracked and analyzed.
Second, the report suggests that stakeholders work to promote development and innovation in manufactured housing to increase manufactured housing lending. It also recommends developing best practices for manufactured housing lending.
Video: How Your Voice Shaped the #CFEDscorecard Conversation
By Veronica Weis on 04/04/2013 @ 11:00 AM
The release of the 2013 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard received unprecedented mainstream media coverage and visibility online. We truly could not have done it without the support of our partners, funders and most importantly, you. You helped start the conversation about how financial security in America is in danger. Check out the video below to see all of our shared successes during the release and don't forget to continue the conversation with us by commenting and sharing. Thank YOU!
Why You Should Take the Microenterprise Census Survey
By Katherine Lucas McKay on 04/03/2013 @ 11:00 AM
The 2013 U.S. Microenterprise Census—the nation’s leading source of data on the microenterprise industry—launched yesterday! The Census, created by the Aspen Institute’s FIELD Program in 1992, has become the most comprehensive and widely used source of information on this field. It provides quality, up-to-date information illustrating the size, scale and impact of the U.S. microenterprise industry.
If your organization offers microenterprise training and technical assistance, IDAs for microenterprise, or microloans, please take the survey! Even if that’s only one part of your mission, your input is valuable. The first organization to complete the Census will receive a prize, and additional incentives will be offered throughout the course of FIELD’s Census campaign. Also, CFED will raffle off a free registration for the 2014 Assets Learning Conference (a $700 value) to those who fill out the Census by June 2. All you need to do to enter the raffle is complete the survey.
The Microenterprise Census is important to CFED because it demonstrates the power of microenterprise ownership to help lower-income families lift themselves out of poverty. Throughout CFED’s 33-year history, we have promoted microenterprise as an asset-building strategy, and, thanks to the Census, we have the data to prove it. One analysis of Census data, for example, found that microenterprise owners who received training and loans over a five-year period increased their revenues by 60 percent; the percentage of clients living in poverty declined from 16 percent to 9 percent, a reduction of more than 40 percent.
By participating in the Census, you not only help make the case for microenterprise as an income- and asset-building strategy, you also help your organization succeed. MicroTracker is increasingly becoming a valuable source of data and information on the micro industry for funders, the media and other stakeholders. Participating in the Census also gives you access to valuable data that can help you manage and showcase your program’s performance, including metrics that compare your organization to industry averages. Join the more than 800 organizations that have participated just in the past five years and take the Microenterprise Census today!
From Saver to Homeowner: Hassan Rasheed's Story
By Bank of the West on 04/02/2013 @ 05:00 PM
To help families achieve the goal of homeownership, Bank of the West has partnered with CFED to match the money that low-income individuals save for a down payment and to support the nonprofits that provide financial education to these savers. As part of Financial Literacy Month in April, this is the first story in a three-part series featuring Individual Development Account (IDA) program graduates from across the country.
Hassan Rasheed's Story
Ever since he moved to Portland in 1996, Hassan Rasheed dreamed of owning a home for himself, his wife and their five children. His team of GOALS coordinators at Home Forward, formerly the Housing Authority of Portland, introduced Hassan to Individual Development Accounts, and encouraged him to save $50 each month instead of the minimum of $25. Hassan beams as he describes the team that helped him “get on his feet by saving” his way to a downpayment on his 2,725-square-foot home, a vast improvement on the 900-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment where his family of seven lived for five years. Reflecting upon the moment he received the keys from his broker, Hassan says, “I sat in the car and started crying. I couldn’t believe it.”
His favorite part of his new five-bedroom home? “It’s all my favorite,” smiles Hassan, who is originally from northern Iraq. When the country eventually became unsafe for him and his family, they were forced to flee to Turkey and Guam before settling in Oregon. Now, in their new home, everyone has their own space to thrive and a community in which they feel safe. Describing IDAs as “a good program for people to stand on their own feet, move to work and don’t [sic] stay in the same position,” Hassan adds that now that his dream of homeownership has been achieved, he has begun saving to help send his five children to college.
Wilma Mankiller's Legacy: Every Day is a Good Day
By Bob Friedman on 04/02/2013 @ 12:15 AM
I remember when I first met Wilma Mankiller, thirty years ago at the first convening on women’s economic development hosted by Jing Lyman and Sarah Gould of CFED at Wingspread. After dinner the first night, one incredible woman after another introduced herself, including Kathy Keeley, who had just founded WEDCO, the first women’s microenterprise program in the country, and Rebecca Adamson, who introduced what would become First Nations Development Institute. But, when Wilma, then Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation, stood up, it was like the world stopped, and centered on her quiet, grounded, visionary voice.
Wilma understood and believed in what I now believe is the most crucial insight in economic development—that common people, including low-income and very poor people -- are capable of leading their own development, as entrepreneurs, students, skilled workers, homeowners, savers, investors and crafters of their own futures. The new movie on Wilma’s life and work, The Cherokee Word for Water, elaborates on this basic insight, even as it tells the story of Cherokee volunteers building an 18-mile waterline. Click here for the movie’s trailer, or visit the movie’s website at www.cw4w.com.
I and CFED continued to learn from Wilma throughout our lives. Having her say that individual allotment of communally held native lands was one of the greatest disservices done to native peoples by the federal government, it was with trepidation that I brought her Michael Sherraden’s idea of Individual Development Accounts. She loved the idea—a not-unimportant judgment given that she led the economic development committee of the Ford Board of Directors while Melvin Oliver, Frank DeGiovanni and Lisa Mensah funded the birth and growth of the assets field, and the American Dream Demonstration.
In 2006, Wilma keynoted our Assets Learning Conference in Phoenix, underscoring that what may be most important about matched saving and asset building is not the money, but the sense of empowerment and possibility that accompanies the money.
As I think about Wilma now, I recall so many of her simple summaries of profound truth, including:
“Every day is a good day,” which is the title of her second book, drawn from her interview with Carrie Dann.
“Things have a way of turning out the way they’re supposed to.” To which my wife, Kristina, would respond, “That’s the way you lost a continent.” To which Wilma would respond with, “I did not lose a continent.” In my old age, I recognize the way she meant her statement, and trust much more in the aspects of this life that I scarcely understand. I remember as well how, when I stayed with her during her last weeks, Spring seemed to hold off as she clung to life. The moment she died, the trees sprung into bloom, the birds into song. It was as if her life had spread to the universe, even, as the tradition held, she climbed the Milky Way, eating strawberries as she went.
It is my hope that all CFEDers and all our friends, when you have occasion to be in the Mankiller Room in our Washington, DC, offices, will reflect a moment on the untapped promise of all people, and the wisdom, humor and faith Wilma conferred.
Asset-Building News Roundup - March 29, 2013
By Veronica Weis on 03/29/2013 @ 06:00 PM
Measuring Financial Health
We've teamed up with the CFPB to understand what combinations of knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes help consumers succeed in achieving their own financial goals that will help us improve policies and practices. To build this knowledge, we are working with the CFPB to develop rigorously tested measures of consumer financial knowledge, behavior, wellbeing, and related factors. We hope to learn which elements of financial knowledge have a positive effect on financial wellbeing, and what else contributes to financial wellbeing. We will share the critical elements we identify with other financial educators and help them build it into their work. More information here.
Mississippi KIDS COUNT 2013
The latest MS KIDS COUNT report has been released. This edition specifically addresses the effects of housing and employment on the economic well-being of children. To download the full PDF, click here. Be sure to check out their housing and employment, health and wellness and education infographics, as well.
April is Financial Literacy Month
April is a time for planting gardens and watching things bloom. It’s also Financial Literacy Month, which makes it the perfect time of year to consider savings options from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help grow your savings and take control of your future.
Whether you are an experienced investor or someone who is just starting to save money, the Treasury Department’s safe, affordable and convenient savings options can help you reach your goals.
Make an effort during April Financial Literacy Month to visit the Treasury Department’s Ready.Save.Grow. site – www.treasurydirect.gov/readysavegrow – to learn more about Treasury savings options. You can create your free online TreasuryDirect account today and build tomorrow’s savings.
Pittsburgh-Area School Offers Incentives to Save for College
Students at Propel charter schools in Pittsburgh now have an incentive to set some extra money aside for college. Called Fund My Future, the program sets up savings accounts in the child's name and offers raffles for gift cards as incentives to make deposits. The plan is designed to make savings fun and simple for low-income students and their parents.
From the Assets & Opportunity Network
Maryland CASH posted a call to action regarding a new gas tax. It calls for the state to increase the refundable EITC to offset the negative individual economic impacts on low- and moderate-income workers of the increases in the gas tax. Read more here.
The Illinois Asset Building Group is honoring Women's History Month by recognizing the gender wealth gap. In a recent blog post, they note the many gender disparities with regard to income, credit card debt, median wealth of full-time workers, homeownership rates and overall assets.
National Study: Manufactured Home Mortgages are Excellent Loans
By Juliana Eades, Guest Contributor on 03/29/2013 @ 10:30 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: Today's post is the latest in a series on the new I'M HOME Data Report. It comes to us from our friends at the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.
It isn’t often that a nonprofit from little New Hampshire gets to speak into a big megaphone. But in 2009 the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund received a national honor, the NEXT Award for Opportunity Finance, for being the first organization in the US to make real mortgage loans for manufactured homes (sometimes called mobile homes) located in cooperatives.
You might be surprised to learn that manufactured homes are usually financed like cars, with personal property loans at rates 3 to 5 percentage points higher than traditional mortgage loans. This financing is patently unfair, because not only do these short-term, higher-cost loans limit the affordability of these homes, lack of access to mortgages make them harder to resell.
We had seen the positive effects of offering fixed-rate, real mortgage loans for manufactured homes: Families became more financially stable and their homes gained value. So I used our NEXT acceptance speech to urge a roomful of community-lending peers from across the country to make loans like this in their states, too.
Acting on my request was heard as an act of faith, or wishfulness. Lenders regard owners of manufactured homes as riskier borrowers than other homeowners. Our peers weren’t convinced that our low loss record (1.6 percent—excellent loan performance by any standard) could be replicated outside of N.H.
This week the I’M HOME Loan Data Collection Project released its first report, which analyzed data from 23 organizations (including us) that originate or purchase manufactured-housing loans. It found that these are good loans, as good as mortgage loans for site-built homes. It also found that lenders like us, who accept low down payments, make decisions based on an applicant’s total financial picture (not just their credit scores), and who work with borrower through difficulties, were almost as successful as those with the most-stringent standards.
The national report validates our experience in New Hampshire. Our Welcome Home Loans for manufactured homes in resident-owned communities proved so successful over a decade that last year we started offering them to homeowners on their own land, who weren’t getting fair financing either.
And we’re still urging lenders to recognize that manufactured homes are real homes that deserve real mortgages, and that their owners are responsible borrowers—maybe even more responsible than most.
Juliana Eades is President of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.
Making the Case for Long Term, Affordable Mortgage Financing for Manufactured Homes
By Housing Assistance Council on 03/28/2013 @ 04:00 PM
EDITOR'S NOTE: This brief was authored by The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) and can be read here.
On March 21, 2013, CFED released Toward a Sustainable and Responsible Expansion of Affordable Mortgages for Manufactured Homes, which reported findings from an analysis of data on $1.7 billion in manufactured home mortgage lending from a variety of lenders and investors who provide long-term home mortgage products to owners and buyers of manufactured homes. The report finds that manufactured home mortgage borrower repayment records are generally comparable to the site-built mortgage market. In some instances, the repayment records of manufactured home mortgage borrowers were better than comparable general mortgage portfolios.
The report’s authors conclude that conventional underwriting criteria such as higher FICO scores, low loan-to-value and low debt-to-income ratios are strongly related to higher loan performance. However, some of the lenders have been able to achieve strong loan performance with manual underwriting of loans with lower downpayment and less stringent credit requirements by maintaining good contact with the borrowers.
Data were compiled by a two-year effort of the I’M HOME Loan Data Collection Project, part of Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’M HOME), a national initiative managed by CFED. The goal of this effort is to make affordable manufactured home financing available to current and potential low- and moderate-income home owners and a viable alternative to higher cost personal property (chattel) loans.While this effort represents progress in documenting the viability of such financing, more data and further study is needed.
The report includes recommendations to improve the quality of the data, promote product development and innovation among lenders and investors, and organize stakeholders to build recognition of the value of manufactured housing as an energy efficient, lower cost housing option in the mainstream affordable housing policy in the United States.
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Manufactured Home Mortgages Perform As Well As Other Mortgages
By Andrea Levere on 03/27/2013 @ 09:00 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE; This morning, we're sharing the second in a series of blog posts covering the release of Toward a Sustainable and Responsible Expansion of Affordable Mortgages for Manufactured Homes, the newest groundbreaking report from our Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I'M HOME) initiative. This post originally appeared in Rooflines, the official blog of Shelterforce Magazine.
The foreclosure crisis. Homeowners “underwater.” Neighborhoods blighted with vacated homes. Tougher credit standards and new regulations making it harder for lower-income households to qualify for a mortgage.
These have been sadly familiar headlines for almost five years. Is there anything new—and positive—one can say about mortgages?
To find that bright spot, we can turn in a surprising direction: toward manufactured homes.
A groundbreaking I’M HOME report released this week by CFED in partnership with the Fair Mortgage Collaborative, titled Toward a Sustainable and Responsible Expansion of Affordable Mortgages for Manufactured Homes, analyzes $1.7 billion in loan performance data and finds that, contrary to common belief, mortgages on manufactured homes perform as well as comparable site-built home mortgages.
The study goes on to identify manufactured home mortgage products that actually outperform other loans.
Based on this evidence, more lenders and investors should be convinced to enter or expand their manufactured home mortgage offerings as good business. Home owners will then benefit by finding it easier to obtain affordable, long-term financing.
More than seventeen million Americans rely on manufactured homes for affordable housing. Manufactured homes utilize factory-built technology and cost up to 30 percent less on average than comparable site-built homes. Modern manufactured homes can be highly energy efficient, safe and attractive.
But while the price of the home is one essential ingredient in affordability, it is not the only factor. The cost of financing can be an equal or even greater factor; despite the challenges of the past several years, the U.S. tradition of a fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage has been at the heart of achieving the dream of homeownership.
Sadly, millions of owners of manufactured homes don’t have the mortgage option. For up to three quarters of all owners and buyers of manufactured homes, a chattel loan is what they get. They must spend hundreds of dollars more each month to service their chattel loan—dollars that they could otherwise spend on food, clothing, utilities, education and savings. The reason that these households can’t get a mortgage is two-fold: the majority of mortgage lenders don’t lend for manufactured homes, and many manufactured homes are titled under state law as “personal property” like automobiles, and as a result don’t qualify for mortgages.
The good news is that, as shown in the new I’M HOME report, there are a solid group of lenders and investors offering mortgages to owners and buyers of manufactured homes—and these mortgages are performing well.
More good news can be found in the passage of the Uniform Manufactured Housing Act, or UMHA, by the Uniform Law Commission. The UMHA creates a simple and consistent method for owners and buyers who choose to title their manufactured home as real property instead of personal property. In many states today, the process is too onerous or limited to give homeowners a real choice, and UMHA would change that. As personal property, these homes can only be financed with chattel loans; as real property, they may be financed by mortgages. In almost every state, the UMHA would represent an improvement on existing titling law, but each state must introduce and enact the act in order to make freedom of choice a reality for more homeowners. Advocates in several states are considering introducing the UMHA, and Vermont made the first such introduction in February.
So, take heart! There is indeed good news on the mortgage front. First, owners and buyers of manufactured homes may already be able to find an affordable, long-term mortgage (if your home is titled as real property). Some sources you may want to consider include:
- Lenders doing business with your state Housing Finance Agency. Check the “HFA Directory” on the website of the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) to find the HFA in your state, and ask for their approved lenders.
- Local credit unions. Resources for local credit unions include Credit Union Locator of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the Member Directory of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU).
- USDA Rural Development 502 program (in qualified rural areas for eligible borrowers). Contact the USDA Rural Development office for your state to inquire about Direct or Guaranteed loans.
- FHA Title II lenders. Check the Lender List on HUD’s website.
- Community Development Financial Institutions. A helpful resource is the ‘Find a CDFI’ function of the Opportunity Finance Network.
Second, more lenders and investors are to be encouraged to initiate or expand their mortgage offerings for manufactured homes on the basis of the data analysis provided in the report, Toward a Sustainable and Responsible Expansion of Affordable Mortgages for Manufactured Homes.
We hope you will join us in realizing the potential of manufactured homes to play a vital role in establishing a stock of permanently affordable and energy efficient housing in the US.
Lost Generations? Wealth Building Among the Young
By Gene Steuerle, Guest Contributor on 03/26/2013 @ 01:30 PM
EDITOR'S NOTE: This post originally appeared on The Government We Deserve blog and can be read here. Special thanks to Gene for this contribution.
The young have been faring poorly in the job market for some time now, a condition only exacerbated by the Great Recession. Now comes disturbing news that they are also falling behind in their share of society’s wealth and their rate of wealth accumulation.
Signe Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, Sisi Zhang, and I recently examined how different age groups have shared in the rising net wealth of the U.S. economy. Despite the recent recession, our economy in 2010 was about twice as rich both in terms of average incomes and net worth as it was 27 years earlier in 1983. But not everyone shared equally in that growth.
Younger generations have been particularly left behind. Roughly speaking, those under age 46 today, generally the Gen X and Gen Y cohorts, hadn’t accumulated any more wealth by the time they reached their 30s and 40s than their parents did over a quarter-century ago. By way of contrast, baby boomers and other older generations, or those over age 46, shared in the rising economy—they approximately doubled their net worth.
Older Generations Accumulate, Younger Generations Stagnate
Change in Average Net Worth by Age Group, 1983–2010
Households usually add to their saving as they age, while income and wealth rise over time with economic growth. If these two patterns apply consistently and proportionately, then one might expect to see, say, a parent generation accumulate $100,000 by the time its members were in their 30s and $300,000 in their 60s, whereas their children might accumulate $200,000 by their 30s and $600,000 by their 60s.
This normal pattern no longer holds for the younger among us. However, this reversal didn’t just start with the Great Recession; it seems to have begun even before the turn of the century. The young increasingly have been left behind.
Potential causes are many. The Great Recession hit housing hard, but it particularly affected the young, who were more likely to have the largest balances on their loans and the least equity relative to their home values. If a house value fell 20 percent, a younger owner with 20 percent equity would lose 100 percent in housing net worth, whereas an older owner with the mortgage paid off would witness a drop of only 20 percent.
As for the stock market, it has provided very low returns over recent years, but those who hung on through the Great Recession had most of their net worth restored to pre-recession values. Bondholders usually came out ahead by the time the recession ended as interest rates fell and underlying bonds often increased in value. Also making out well were those with annuities from defined benefit pension plans and Social Security, whose values increase when interest rates fall (though the data noted above exclude those gains in asset values). Older generations hold a much higher percentage of their portfolios in assets that have recovered or appreciated since the Great Recession.
As I mentioned earlier, however, the tendency for lesser wealth accumulation among the younger generations has been occurring for some time, so the special hit they took in the Great Recession leaves out much of the story. Here we must search for other answers to the question of why the young have been falling behind. Likely candidates for their relatively worse status, many of which are correlated, include
- a lower rate of employment when in the workforce;
- delayed entry into the workforce and into periods of accumulating saving; reduced relative pay, partly due to their first-time-ever lack of any higher educational achievement relative to past generations;
- their delayed family formation, usually a harbinger and motivator of thrift and homebuilding;
- lower relative minimum wages; and
- higher shares of compensation taken out to pay for Social Security and health care, with less left over to save.
When it comes to conventional wisdom and media attention to distributional issues, there’s a tendency simply to attribute any particular disparity, such as the young falling behind in wealth holdings, to the growth in wealth inequality in society. But the two need not be correlated. Disparities can grow within both younger and older generations, without the young necessarily falling behind as a group.
Whatever the causes, we should also remember that public policy now places increased burdens on the young, whether in ever-higher interest payments on federal debts they will be left or the political exemption of older generations from paying for their underfunded retirement and health benefits. At the same time, state and local governments have given education lower priority in their budgets; pension plans for government workers now grant reduced and sometimes zero net benefits to new, younger hires; and homeownership subsidies post-recession increasingly favor the haves over the more risky have-nots.
Maybe, more than just maybe, it’s time to think about investing in the young.
“High Touch” Loan Servicing Pays Off for Lenders, Investors and Homeowners
By Brian Hudson, Guest Contributor on 03/25/2013 @ 04:30 PM
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of blog posts covering last week's release of the new I'M HOME Data Report titled Toward a Sustainable and Responsible Expansion of Affordable Mortgages for Manufactured Homes. Special thanks to Brian Hudson, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, for today's post.
At the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), we understand that our public service mission includes an obligation to help our borrowers stay in their homes. More than 20 years ago, we made the decision to bring all of our loan servicing in-house and to use a variety of mostly low-tech, but “high-touch,” techniques to help borrowers in trouble. The effectiveness of this approach is reflected in PHFA’s lower-than-average foreclosure rates.
PHFA’s portfolio of manufactured housing mortgages is included in CFED’s new report, Toward a Sustainable and Responsible Expansion of Affordable Mortgages for Manufactured Homes. The report describes an important effort by the I’M HOME Loan Data Collection Project to compile and analyze loan origination and performance data on manufactured home loans. Manufactured homes are an important source of affordable housing for thousands of Pennsylvanians and millions of households across the US, which is why PHFA has invested more than $200 million in manufactured home mortgages during the past decade.
I am aware that there are many investors that, unlike PHFA, avoid manufactured home loans, possibly because they believe that these loans do not perform well. To the contrary, CFED’s new report, based on $1.7 billion of loan originations, finds that manufactured home mortgages actually perform comparably to general mortgage portfolios, and in some cases they outperform comparable site-built home loans.
An outstanding factor correlated in the study with superior loan performance is “high-touch” loan servicing of the sort practiced by PHFA for all of our loans. Steps taken by PHFA to help borrowers are not complicated but involve targeted communications with borrowers. For example, if a homeowner falls more than 12 days delinquent during the six-month period after the loan closes, PHFA staff will reach out by telephone to the customer prior to the 15th of the month.
Another example is that staff attempting to reach unresponsive homeowners will hand write addresses and use colored envelopes to avoid a formal business look. Postage is also applied by hand and not run through the office mail machine. The messages inside are handwritten in a friendly, informal tone and address borrowers by their first names. This not only raises the odds that the message will be read, but it also increases the likelihood the borrower will not be intimidated by the correspondence and will contact us. The goal is to let the borrower know that our staff cannot help them if they ignore the situation.
Since 2003, PHFA has helped nearly 1,100 borrowers, including owners of both manufactured and site-built homes, who would have otherwise certainly lost their home to foreclosure. We use a variety of tools, including lowered interest rates and extended repayment plans. The typical household helped by this program is a family of three with a remaining loan balance of about $70,000. A recent review of the special-treatment loans shows that 59 percent remain current with payment, 38 percent are delinquent and only 3 percent are in foreclosure.
I encourage you to read the new CFED report for its full analysis, findings and recommendations about manufactured home mortgage performance. Affordable mortgages for manufactured homes can produce positive returns for investors and lenders and are essential for homeowners. More investors and lenders should take a serious look at investing in manufactured home mortgages as good business. A “sustainable and responsible expansion of affordable mortgages for manufactured homes” will be an essential element of a comprehensive approach toward finding affordable housing solutions that benefit our neighborhoods and households around the state and around the nation.
Brian A. Hudson, Sr. is Executive Director and CEO of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, the Commonwealth’s leading provider of capital for affordable homes and apartments. PHFA is one of the largest housing agencies in America. He is also President of the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA), a national membership organization of state housing finance agencies.
Asset-Building News Roundup - March 22, 2013
By Veronica Weis on 03/22/2013 @ 06:30 PM
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a new feature of The Inclusive Economy that will share the top news and developments of the week from the asset-building field.
Education Sequester Will Hurt Poor and Special-Needs Kids
The National Education Association estimates that 7.4 million students and 49,365 school personnel will be affected by the sequester cuts if Washington does not reach a compromise on budget cuts.
Federal funding for education is expected to see a 5.1 percent decrease. The majority of these funds go to to Title 1, special education, Head Start and programs to support school lunches, improvements, and aid. Two groups of school kids -- the poor and the disabled - will therefore be the ones who suffer the most. Title 1 and Head Start stand to lose $740 million and $406 million, while special education will lose $644 million. Other cuts include: $58.8 million in Impact Aid, $126 million in Teacher Quality State Grants, $59 million in 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and $9 million in rural education.
Hawaii Senators Introduce Measures to Help Make Homeownership More Attainable for Native Hawaiians
Hawaii’s Congressional delegation, led by Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, introduced various measures to make homeownership more attainable for Native Hawaiians. Schatz proposed three amendments to the Native Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA), which will expand housing program eligibility and succession authority to those who are one-quarter Hawaiian. It also authorizes the Hawaiian Homes Commission to set interest rates on home loans based on market conditions. Senator Hirono is an original co-sponsor of the bill.
Hirono proposed the Hawaiian Homeownership Opportunity Act, legislation to reauthorize the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant. This bill provides an avenue for Department of Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries to secure financing to purchase a home on Hawaiian Home Lands.
Is Income Inequality Increasingly Permanent?
A new paper published by The Brookings Institute as part of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity asks the question, “Rising Inequality: Transitory or Permanent?” The researchers looked at pre- and after-tax incomes from 1987 to 2009 and concluded that income inequality is increasingly permanent in America. The data only considered male and household earnings and did not break out women’s income.
"Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry" Event
Our friends at the New America’s Asset Building Program hosted author Helaine Olen for an event featuring her new book, Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry. Olen critiques the personal finance industrial complex and makes the case that our systems and structures for achieving financial security are broken or badly damaged, and that profiteers have exploited the desire to for personal financial control and turned it into a profit center for their own benefit. To watch a live recording of the event, click here.
Assets & Opportunity Network Blog Updates
Education is One Way to Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap
By Carl Rist on 03/22/2013 @ 10:00 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: This post originally appeared on the 1:1 Fund's blog and can be read here.
For generations of Americans, graduating from college has been the surest route to achieving the American Dream. Indeed, in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last September in Charlotte, North Carolina, President Obama noted, “Education was the gateway to opportunity for me.” Yet, the price tag for attending college continues to rise. With tuition and fees for resident students at public four-year colleges and universities rising at an annual rate of 5.6% (from 2001-2011), one has to wonder what this financial barrier means for the future of economic and social opportunity in the United States.
A new report from Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy sheds some light on this question, and the emerging answer is a growing wealth gap, especially along racial lines, resulting from unequal education opportunity. In their report, The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide, the Brandeis researchers find a growing wealth gap between white and African-American families. The main driver of this wealth gap is homeownership, but the Brandeis researchers also identify educational inequality as another key factor, and a major cause of this is paying for college. For example, financial considerations such as rising college costs, the need to work while in school rather than attend full-time, and the concern about taking on high levels of debt result in more African-American students (compared to whites) dropping out of college without a degree. Ultimately, the Brandeis researchers estimate that educational inequality is the fourth most important driver of the racial wealth gap, behind only homeownership, household income and unemployment.
So what’s the solution? Certainly, controlling college costs and ensuring that need-based aid keeps up with inflation are strategies that we, as a nation, must pursue. But there are also things that students, families and communities can do. Since we know that students with a savings account are much more likely to attend and finish college, we need to encourage all families to start saving money early for their children’s higher education. That strategy will have a positive impact on individual families’ financial health, their children’s job prospects and economic opportunities, and the overall health and prosperity of our country. As a nation, though, we’re not great savers, and for students from low-income families, who often are students of color and who will be affected most by the financial hardships of college, the challenge is even greater.
Here at the 1:1 Fund, we believe in the importance of saving for college and want to bring this opportunity to all children, especially students of color and those from lower-income backgrounds. In San Francisco, our partners at Kindergarten to College (K2C) work with every kindergartner in the San Francisco Unified School District, whose students are 41% Asian American, 23% Latino, 11% white, 10% African American, 1% Native American, and 14% other or declined to state. Of all SFUSD students, 26.5% speak English as a second language. In Mississippi, 100% of our student savers are African American and low-income. While the rising cost of college and the limits of need-based aid must be solved at the federal and state levels, individual families and their communities can help offset the financial burden of higher education by saving early and often – the 1:1 Fund exists to help them do just that. Please consider donating to the cause, and matching students’ savings, at www.1to1fund.org.
Seven Strategies for Starting a Successful Social Enterprise as a Means for Job Creation
By Brian Spero, Guest Contributor on 03/21/2013 @ 03:30 PM
EDITOR'S NOTE: At CFED, we often tout the positive impact starting a business can have on one's long-term financial security. Today's blog post extends that idea by making the case for starting a social enterprise.
As the job market slowly continues to awaken from its long slumber, many young Americans remain searching for quality employment. For those who have struggled to find work, are underemployed or are unfulfilled by a current career path, starting a social venture may be the answer. Becoming a social entrepreneur doesn't hold the potential of a financial windfall like many other pursuits, but it can be a means to sustainable long-term employment that's personally rewarding and leaves a positive impact on society.
For those who hear the calling of this noble life choice, consider these sound strategies for starting a successful social enterprise:
- Lead With Your Heart. Starting a social venture takes passion, commitment and endurance, so it's essential that you choose an initiative that inspires you. This is your chance to finally do something that you love for a living, and reap the satisfaction knowing your efforts mean even more to the community it serves. It's important to look deep within to learn not only what moves you to action, but also that which will continue to hold your ongoing attention.
- Check Your Head. It's called "social entrepreneurship" because it takes entrepreneurial business acumen to get a social venture off the ground. Make a real assessment of what you are capable of by taking inventory of your skills, your experiences and your core attributes. If you feel you are lacking in any area, be it handling accounting or managing logistics, it could mean you need to find a business partner who complements your organizational needs, or perhaps you are better suited to work as part of an ensemble team.
- Choose Wisely. The success of your enterprise starts and ends with the central mission. While stopping worldwide hunger may be your ultimate wish, an approachable goal, such as feeding hungry local children, may be a more realistic place to start. Some of the most effective social ventures focus squarely on something that can and should be changed, such as malaria plaguing people in developing nations, and providing a straightforward solution, such as supplying those in need with mosquito nets to protect them from the pests that spread disease.
- Make It Your Business. Don't let the altruistic element of social ventures fool you - the essence of what you are doing is starting a business. If you have hopes of making things work, you have to not only make a considerable time commitment, but also carefully create a plan to build your organization. Branding, marketing, building internal infrastructure and managing outbound logistics are just several of the tasks you may have to account for to give your venture the structure to endure.
- Capitalize on Advantages. As with many nonprofit or charitable organizations, opportunities exist to help your venture thrive, from tax advantages to funding grants. Educate yourself on every program you could potentially benefit from, and legally structure your organization to maximize tax relief. There are many organizations like CFED that support, fund and mentor social entrepreneurs. Other examples of these organizations include the Skoll Foundation, Acumen Fund, and Draper Richards Foundation.
- Walk Before You Run. The downfall of many promising ventures is when it expands too rapidly. Keep your goals realistic and train your focus, resisting the urge to grow before your foundation is firmly established. Position yourself for a sustainable future, while defining yourself philanthropically. If you are doing good work, growth will occur naturally.
- Put Yourself Out There. Social entrepreneurs are resourceful, innovative and creative, fearlessly lobbying for action to achieve change. Asking for help, whether it's in the form of a financial contribution, strategic partnership or the commodity of time is never easier than when you are asking for others. Always be on the lookout for ways to promote your cause, utilize efficient online marketing techniques like social media, and value the contributions of friends, family and like-minded individuals.
Social entrepreneurship is a viable alternative to the workforce grind, providing a platform to find financial stability through helping others. By choosing a worthy cause, creating a sound business structure, and generating the ideas and energy necessary to succeed, you can create new opportunities for yourself and others while effecting real change.
What other tips can you provide to those who wish to engage in social entrepreneurship?
Brian Spero is a contributor for the online resource, Money Crashers Personal Finance. He writes about ideas related to economic policy, small business and money management topics.
Cradle to College: Exploring How Children's Savings Accounts Pay Off
By Sean Luechtefeld on 03/20/2013 @ 11:15 AM
EDITOR’S NOTE: CFED’s own Leigh Tivol will be speaking as part of this PolicyLink webinar next Tuesday. If you’re available, we’d love it if you could join Leigh!
Join PolicyLink and a panel of experts discussing promising new developments in children’s savings accounts. This webinar will explore the ways that accounts not only contribute to saving for college, but also improve educational outcomes, and the odds that low-income students and students of color enroll in college.
Hear from Jose Cisneros, Treasurer for the City and County of San Francisco, about the nation’s first universal children’s savings account program for kindergarteners. He will be joined by Dr. William Elliott, Assistant Professor and Director of Assets and Education Initiative at the University of Kansas, Leigh Tivol, Director of Savings and Financial Security at CFED, and Reid Cramer, Director of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation. They will describe the latest research, models we’re seeing across the country and opportunities to support national policy advocacy.
To register for the webinar, click here.
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