Ownership & Assets

Asset Building News Week, May 19-23

May 23, 2014
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 racial inequality, housing, public assistance, and financial inclusion.

Vermont Takes on “The Poverty Trap”

May 15, 2014
Publication Image In the past few months, there’s been a lot of talk about “poverty traps” built into the social safety net. The term is most commonly used to refer to the issue of “benefit cliffs” in TANF and other programs – as families’ incomes go up, their benefits decrease, which arguably creates a disincentive to work, depending on how quickly benefits phase out. One approach? Just cut the programs. But a bill that just passed in Vermont shows what a better—and proven—approach looks like.

 

MyRA for Renters? Sounds Familiar

May 14, 2014
Josh Barro has an interesting column for the New York Times today on how we can promote savings for renters. Homeownership, he acknowledges, is a method of “forced savings”: “Every month, you write a check to the bank, part of which goes to pay interest, and part of which goes to reduce the balance of your loan. Over time, you own more of the home. In a country that doesn’t save enough, forced saving is a real virtue of owning a home.” Renters miss out on that built-in wealth-building opportunity.
 
Barro goes on to present a creative idea to help renters save too: “Why not also allow landlords to participate in myRA, with tenants able to roll a retirement savings contribution into their rent checks?” MyRA is a proposal from the Obama administration that would improve access to retirement savings accounts through the workplace for employees who are currently underserved. (MyRA also happens to be the topic of a new policy paper that my colleagues put out this week, which you should read here.)
 
I agree with Barro that building a savings option into the act of paying rent is a good idea. Automation helps people do something they likely wouldn’t consciously do otherwise. In fact, it’s such a good idea that the federal government has been doing something very similar for over 20 years, through its Family Self-Sufficiency Program.

Solving the Retirement Puzzle with myRAs

May 12, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building Program released a paper today examining the potential of the Obama Administration’s myRA proposal to provide a meaningful savings opportunity for low- and middle-income Americans. The paper, “Solving the Retirement Puzzle: The Potential of myRAs to Build a Personal Safety Net,” examines the myRA program within the context of other recent policy proposals to address the looming retirement crisis. While many of the recent proposals have promise, they almost uniformly lack one key element to achieving widespread retirement security among low- and middle-income workers: supporting access to flexible resources that can be tapped in an emergency. This is where the myRA proposal stands out: it permits flexible withdrawals.

Solving the Retirement Puzzle

  • By
  • Reid Cramer,
  • Justin King,
  • Elliot Schreur,
  • Aleta Sprague,
  • New America Foundation
May 12, 2014
The growing recognition that millions of Americans are ill-prepared for retirement has prompted a number of state and federal policy proposals to promote retirement security. Yet even the most promising proposals fail to acknowledge a prerequisite to sustaining long-term savings: access to flexible resources that can be tapped in an emergency or can support productive investments that can pay off over the long haul.

85,000 Low-income Youth Open Savings Accounts through YouthSave

May 8, 2014
The YouthSave project announced new results from a five-year program designed to increase saving and asset building among youth in developing countries.

Guest Post: New Findings on Asset Poverty in Canada and Developments on Asset Poverty Measurement

May 5, 2014
Publication Image Editor's Note: This guest blog post was written by David W. Rothwell, Assistant Professor at the McGill University School of Social Work, and Yunju Nam, Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work.

Asset Building News Week, April 21-25

April 25, 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 student loan debt, housing, and upcoming events.

Asset Building News Week, April 14-18

April 18, 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 tax day, inequality, and the safety net.

Guest Post: Six Tax Reforms to Increase Economic Security for All

April 17, 2014
Publication Image Editor's note: this blog post was authored by Heather McCulloch, Manager of the Tax Policy Project of the Asset Funders Network. It originally appeared on the ACCESS to Financial Security site and is reprinted here with the author's permission.

It’s tax time, the perfect time to consider how tax code reforms can create an America that lives up to its promise of opportunity for all.
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