Ownership & Assets

Event Thursday: In Poverty, Under Surveillance

December 10, 2013
New America's Open Technology Institute, Asset Building Program, and Breadwinners and Caregivers Program are teaming up to host an event this week to explore the interconnected issues of privacy and poverty, specifically as they play out in the public assistance system.

Families and individuals accessing the public benefits system are required to provide extensive personal and financial information as a condition of receiving benefits. Depending on the requirements of individual programs, they may also have to endure unannounced home visits, fingerprinting or drug testing, and other routinized violations of privacy that more privileged members of society have come to expect. These intrusions are often justified by policymakers as measures to “reduce fraud” or to ensure that only the most desperate people access the programs.

Upcoming Webinar: Finding Solutions to Address the Racial Wealth Gap through the Federal Budget

December 9, 2013
Publication Image This Wednesday, the Center for Global Policy Solutions will host a webinar with the purpose of exploring how federal asset-building programs affect communities of color. The federal budget includes several asset-building provisions that are intended to help citizens build savings and develop wealth, but whose impact on communities of color is limited.

The Little Housing Program That Could

December 5, 2013
Editor's note: This piece originally appeared on New America's Weekly Wonk. Learn more about Helen Seide and other successful graduates of Montgomery County's Housing Opportunities Commission Family Self-Sufficiency program in this video.

It should’ve been a fresh start for Helen Seide. It was 2001, and she had finally escaped her abusive marriage. But as her relationship dissolved, her finances, too, collapsed like a house of cards: Seide, suddenly a single working parent with three young daughters, couldn’t afford her rent and lost her apartment. A hotel became their temporary home as Seide struggled to support her family on her earnings as a hospital secretary. But the late shifts were hard to balance with her children’s day care. Her paychecks shrank. They needed help.

After months in the hotel, followed by another two years in transitional housing, that help came. A voucher for rental assistance allowed her family to move to their own apartment in Montgomery County, Maryland—a first step on their move out of poverty. Today, Seide is a proud homeowner with a stable job as a medical coder. Her oldest, now 17, is on track to attend college next year.

Costs of Caregiving takes a Bite out of the Sandwich Generation

December 6, 2013
Publication Image Being a caregiver isn't just a gesture of the heart, it's a commitment of the wallet. And, as more adults are finding themselves in the position of caring for both young children and their own elderly parents, this "sandwich generation" is expending substantial personal resources to compensate for inadequate public support.

New Paper: Next Generation Reforms for HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program

December 5, 2013
Publication Image I’m pleased to be releasing a new policy paper today for the Asset Building Program. The paper, entitled “Asset-Oriented Rental Assistance: Next Generation Reforms for HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program,” takes an in-depth look at the current state of research on the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program and makes a set of recommendations for its improvement. Over the past two years, I’ve spoken with FSS program coordinators around the country. These are individuals who are working hard to implement the program in creative ways in diverse communities – and facing a range of challenges as they go. This paper is based in large part on these conversations and aims to reflect both the triumphs and frustrations that these particular programs have experienced. I’ve included reviews of recent wide-scale evaluations of the program to provide additional context.

Asset-Oriented Rental Assistance

  • By
  • Hannah Emple,
  • New America Foundation
December 5, 2013
Federally funded rental assistance programs in the U.S. address housing-related hardship for participants, but are unable to reach a majority of eligible households due to current funding levels. Given existing funding constraints, there are benefits to expanding programs and policies that help families move up the economic ladder, thus freeing up resources to assist more eligible families.

New Paper: Building Assets Through Free Tax Prep

November 22, 2013
Publication Image For millions of struggling American families, filing taxes has become associated with more than just a pile of annoying paperwork. Tax time represents a significant opportunity to build financial security through income supports like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Across the country, service-group coalitions coordinate volunteers at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, sites dedicated to making sure that those struggling families get the most out of the tax time moment.

Ohio’s Tax Time Coalition

  • By
  • David Rothstein,
  • New America Foundation
November 22, 2013
Throughout the country, a network of over 4,300 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites helps over 1.2 million low-income taxpayers file their taxes for free each year. Organized through IRS grants, the sites not only help low-income Americans file their taxes, but also to take advantage of important tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For more than six years, the Ohio Tax Time Coalition (formerly the Franklin County EITC Coalition) has served the Columbus metro area as one of these sites.

Supporting Savings Should be the Rule - Not the Exception

November 21, 2013
Publication Image On Tuesday, we featured a great guest post from Ben Landy of The Century Foundation about how asset limits in public assistance programs create a “poverty trap,” and prevent low-income families from making financial decisions in their best interest. The piece centered around the story of James Brady, a homeless New Jersey man who lost his public assistance after finding $850, which he turned over to the police despite his own financial need. When the money went unclaimed, Brady got it back – but lost his health insurance in the process.

How to Make the American Dream More than Just a Dream

November 14, 2013
Publication Image Last week, Pew released a report (Moving On Up: Why Do Some Americans Leave the Bottom of the Economic Ladder, but Not Others?) examining the failure of the “American Dream.” Americans like to think that economic mobility can be achieved through hard work and perseverance, but the report’s findings repudiate this ideal. Seventy percent of those in the lowest income quintile never escape the bottom rungs of the ladder.
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