Housing

Stable Housing is Unequivocally Good for Children and Families

October 15, 2012
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A new brief from the Children's HealthWatch (CHW) research study clearly demonstrates what many in the affordable housing, public health, asset building, and anti-poverty spheres have long known: that stable housing is foundational for children's health and family well-being. (CHW is a multi-city study of the impact of economic and social policies on young children and their families. Additional studies, reports, and information about the data are available on their site here.) 

In the brief, data drawn from a sample 6,000 families with children under age four living in Massachusetts show that children whose families had moved two or more times in the past year were 59% more likely to have been hospitalized than were children in housing-secure families. Furthermore, families who were behind on their rent were more likely to struggle to feed all members of the households adequately, to have had utilities shut off, and to forgo needed health care for a child. Children from these families were 52% more likely to be at risk for developmental delays.

Smart Growth and the Legacy of FDR

October 4, 2012
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“The long-continued lag in building is a drag on all industry and trade. This presents an urgent problem which is the common concern of industry, labor, and government. All business needs the infusion of orders and the diffusion of purchasing power that come when building is thriving. Great numbers of people look directly or indirectly to the construction industry for employment. This industry, to a greater extent than any other, can put idle funds to work and thus speed up the circulation of the nation's money supply.

Asset Building News Week, July 30 - August 3

August 3, 2012
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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 gaps in wealth and income, welfare, and savings.

Asset Building News Week, July 16 - 20

July 20, 2012
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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 college financing, housing policy, consumer protection, and asset limits.

Funding Legal Aid is Essential to Preventing Foreclosures

July 19, 2012
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Earlier this summer, I wrote about the significant cuts to the budget of the Legal Services Corporation, which provides funding to around 137 legal aid programs with over nine hundred offices nationwide. These organizations provide crucial services to low-income communities, ranging from foreclosure prevention to domestic violence services to increasing access to public benefits.  LSC-funded programs employ approximately 58% of the attorneys working in the legal aid field. Legal aid programs support asset building by helping clients access basic necessities and maintain their existing assets—including most families’ greatest asset, the home. Unfortunately, insufficient funding has left legal aid organizations struggling, and most families facing foreclosure unrepresented. However, banks have an opportunity to make small changes that could have a big impact with respect to one of legal aid's major funding streams - the Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts program.

Preserving Access to Justice: Legal Services and the Safety Net

June 19, 2012
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The Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which provides funding to legal services organizations throughout the country, is an essential feature of the safety net—though rarely described as such. LSC funding is used to provide civil legal services to households at or below 125% of the federal poverty line. Unlike in criminal cases, where the right to counsel is constitutionally guaranteed for indigent defendants, parties to civil cases have no such right under federal law. In other words, depending on where you live, it’s perfectly legal for you to lose your house, all your possessions, and perhaps even custody of your child without ever talking to a lawyer, no matter how little money you make.

LSC-funded services are crucial in helping keep many families afloat. Yet perhaps unsurprisingly, like other social services programs, LSC has faced major budget cuts, and continues to see its funding attacked. Over the past three decades, LSC’s budget has been effectively cut by just around seventy percent. One member of Congress even proposed an amendment to the FY 2013 House Appropriations Bill that would have ended all funding for LSC, citing the organization as “nonessential” and alleging fraud (it failed, but received 122 votes in the House). Like the proposed cuts to SNAP, cutting LSC’s funding—or even failing to increase it—could have truly dire consequences for low-income communities nationwide.

Asset Building News Week, May 14-18

May 18, 2012
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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 housing, women in poverty, access to public assistance, banking, student loan debt and inequality.

Asset Building News Week, May 7-11

May 11, 2012
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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 Millennial generation, homelessness, economic mobility, public benefits, and banking innovation.

Asset Building News Week, April 16-20

April 20, 2012
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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 taxes, inequality, the impact of demographic shifts on retirement security, education, and housing regulation.

GUEST POST: Investing in Family Self-Sufficiency

April 16, 2012
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Rebecca Sauer is an affordable housing and community development professional in New York City.

Many people see public housing or a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher as a crucial means of survival when wages are low and cost of living is high. Few, however, see these options as springboards out of asset poverty. Boston-based non-profit Compass Working Capital has set out to shift a common perception about subsidized housing by providing clients with asset building opportunities through robust financial coaching. Compass has collaborated with a public housing authority in Lynn, Massachusetts to implement HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program in a way that brilliantly bridges the gaps between social welfare policy, philanthropy, and bootstrap capitalism. Six months into the program, 48% of participants had already increased their income by at least $6,800.

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