Ownership & Assets

As Farm Bill Moves Forward, Indiana Mulls Asset Limit Reform

January 28, 2014
Publication Image This week, following months of negotiations, Congress is moving towards finalizing a Farm Bill, which will establish funding levels and eligibility criteria for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps). Though it staves off the $40 billion in SNAP cuts proposed by the House,  the final bill will still be a blow to low-income families, cutting over $8 billion from the program—on top of the $5 billion slashed just last November, which has already left food banks incapable of coping with a surge in demand.

Asset Building News Week, January 20-24

January 24, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include inequality, economic mobility, and poverty. 

Americans’ Racially Divergent Experiences with Homeownership

January 22, 2014
Publication Image A new report out this week by Zillow (in collaboration with the National Urban League) documents ongoing disparities in homeownership rates and experiences for Americans of different racial groups. Shaun Donovan, the U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development, sat down Wednesday for a public conversation with Zillow’s chief economist, Stan Humphries, to discuss the findings. Secretary Donovan noted that while the U.S. has made progress toward more equality in homeownership, there is room for improvement. The report, A House Divided: How Race Colors the Path to Homeownership, documents two overarching themes: first, that Americans of color (particularly black and Hispanic households) have less overall access to homeownership, and second, that they typically realize fewer of the financial benefits associated with owning a home.  

Guest Post: Lessons from the UK for Ending Poverty Wages in the US

January 21, 2014
Publication Image Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Calum Montell-Boyd, a student at the University of Oxford and editor at OxPolicy, a student think tank at Oxford. He was an intern with the Asset Building Program in the Summer of 2013.
 
As the United States marks the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, low wages remain a problem not just throughout the nation but across the developed world. America’s working poor are counted at over 10 million, while across the Atlantic, in London, one in five workers isn’t making enough to meet basic living expenses. From this perspective, it comes as good news that the UK Treasury has backed an increase in the minimum wage, from £6.31 ($10.37 USD) to £7.00 ($11.50 USD). This announcement from the United Kingdom comes at the same time as US policymakers are considering similar legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.
 

Asset Building News Week, January 13-17

January 17, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include financial services, employment, and public assistance.

Fifty Years into the War on Poverty, the New Battle is for Economic Mobility

January 14, 2014
Publication Image Last week, Aleta Sprague set the tone for our asset-based reflections on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. Much has changed since the 1960s – so much, she concluded, that we’re not even on the same battlefield. Yet we’re still fighting with the same, old weapons in a new and challenging theater. When Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty, he mobilized the best forces available at the time: school funding, a stronger minimum wage, health insurance, a comprehensive social safety net. The new programs that emerged from this commitment have improved the lives of millions of Americans over the decades and have contributed to significantly reducing poverty.

An Assets Perspective to the War on Poverty: Health and Wealth

January 13, 2014
This week we’re exploring how an asset-building framework can bolster existing strategies to address poverty in the U.S. As Aleta Sprague wrote last Wednesday, “50 years after President Johnson’s [War on Poverty] speech and nearly 25 years since Michael Sherraden published Assets and the Poor, we’ve learned a few things about the role of assets and savings as an anti-poverty tool.” She enumerates these findings: the connection between asset holdings and upward mobility, better educational outcomes, and increased life stability. Some of these outcomes are intuitive, but our safety net policies since the initiation of the War on Poverty haven’t embraced the concept that lower income people can and do save or that savings can be a central part of moving out of poverty in a sustainable way.  
 
The connection between having an emergency savings fund or a dedicated account to save for retirement and financial stability is a straightforward one. It’s relatively easy to understand how building financial assets leads to positive economic outcomes over the long term. But asset ownership is more than just a financial stabilizer – it can have important effects on broader health and social wellbeing. A mounting body of evidence helps to establish this strong positive relationship between and health and wealth.  

Asset Building News Week, January 6-10

January 10, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, public assistance, and SNAP.

Fifty Years Since the War on Poverty, We Need an Assets Perspective

January 8, 2014
Publication Image Today marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of an “unconditional war on poverty in America.”  The big, predictable question seems to be: so, did we win?

But are we even on the same battlefield?

The short answer is no. Since the 1960s, our understanding of poverty has evolved and changed dramatically – and it’s time to apply a more modern perspective to our solutions.

Hello 2014, Goodbye Medicaid Asset Limit

January 2, 2014
Publication Image The first day of 2014 marked the official first day of expanded insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. This is a big deal. As Wonkblog notes, yesterday ushered in “the most significant change to our health-care system” in nearly fifty years.

Though much of the discussion around the ACA rollout has focused on how many Americans have signed up for private plans, a lesser known impact of the new law is that millions of Americans are now eligible for Medicaid. The Washington Post offered a nice assessment of these changes earlier this week. One small, but critical, aspect of the Medicaid expansion is the  elimination of the Medicaid asset limit. This provision will allow millions of low-income families to both get the health coverage they need and maintain or build a modest savings cushion. The Medicaid expansion has been rejected by half of the states but the elimination of the asset test applies to all states, not only those that have adopted the expansion. States will still have discretion to impose limits on elderly and disabled beneficiaries, but the majority of Medicaid enrollees will now be able to save freely.
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