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Research at CFED

Evaluation at CFED

CFED evaluates innovative asset-building programs in the areas of affordable housing, integrated service delivery, financial education, savings and others using rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods. What distinguishes the research team’s work in this area is our insight into the real world opportunities and constraints under which asset building programs and policy operate. We dig deeply into implementation details in order to understand why programs and policies succeed or don’t succeed. We also conduct sophisticated program outcome analyses, often in collaboration with leading academics in the field, in order to understand what changes programs are affecting. We share the results of our work broadly—with practitioners, policy makers and academics—in order to help grow the evidence base for the assets field.

To learn more about our research and evaluation of innovative asset-building interventions explore the featured projects below.

Featured Projects

Assessing Financial Capability Outcomes (AFCO)

A combination of financial education and access to financial products may improve financial knowledge, behavior, and overall financial capability. While previous studies have examined the impacts of education and access as a single treatment, CFED and its partners are exploring whether the combination has a greater effect on financial stability than a single-pronged approach. Funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, CFED partnered with the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the New York City Office of Financial Empowerment. CFED worked closely with partners to identify, cultivate, and set up the following pilot sites:

  • Adult Pilot with the City of New York: The Parks Opportunity Program (POP) is a transitional employment program at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. During the study, all employees were offered a free checking account with direct deposit of their City paycheck, while half were offered financial counseling through NYC’s Financial Empowerment Centers, in order to test the hypothesis that financial counseling and access to simple transaction vehicles will enhance the financial stability of low-income adults more than the single-pronged approach.
  • Youth Pilots in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Amarillo, Texas: The youth pilots examine whether 4th and 5th graders learn more from personal finance instruction when they have access to a savings account through their school. Pilots are taking place in the Eau Claire Area School District in partnership with the Royal Credit Union (RCU), and the Amarillo School District in partnership with Happy State Bank and the Center for Policy Priorities in Texas.
  • All three pilots represent large, innovative, carefully constructed and methodologically rigorous evaluations. Although this project is not yet complete, initial findings are greatly enhancing what we know about the ways in which behaviorally informed financial information, financial education and facilitated financial access impact financial well-being for disadvantaged adult and youth populations.

    Evaluation of Cornerstone Corporation Renter Equitysm Property Management System

    Can a rental property management system achieve the same positive outcomes – increased wealth, financial and residential stability and heightened community engagement – as are normally associated with homeownership? In an effort to make these outcomes attainable for low-income housing tenants, Cornerstone Corporation’s Renter Equitysm Property Management System in Cincinnati, Ohio links a participatory property management system with a wealth building vehicle for residents. Cornerstone property tenants earn equity credits for each month that they pay rent on time, attend monthly resident meetings and perform tasks associated with the upkeep of common areas.

    Resident Services and Affordable Housing Financial Performance

    Do resident services in affordable housing – including financial education, credit counseling, after-school youth programs and others – reduce vacancy losses, legal (often associated with evictions) and maintenance costs? In partnership with the National Equity Fund (NEF) with support from the Morgan Stanley Charitable Grant Foundation, CFED is examining the effect of resident services on Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties’ financial performance. The research involves analysis of data from the National Equity Fund’s property database in combination with phone survey data gathered from resident services directors, property managers, and others. This research nicely complements CFED’s programmatic work integrating financial capability building interventions into affordable housing and other pre-existing programs.

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