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Federal Assets Policy Update Assets Learning Conference September 19-21, 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "Federal Assets Policy Update Assets Learning Conference September 19-21, 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 Federal Assets Policy Update Assets Learning Conference September 19-21, 2006

2 CFED CFED works to expand economic opportunity by helping more people save and invest, succeed as entrepreneurs, contribute to and benefit from the economy. CFED operates at the nexus of public policy, private markets, and community practice by identifying and researching promising ideas, collaborating with public and private partners to test those ideas, and driving the application of proven models.

3 Assets and Opportunity Snapshot: Financial Security Across the Nation Nearly one in five households owes more than it owns (21 million). One in four female-headed households has zero or negative net worth. One in three minority-headed households has zero or negative net worth. One in four families (26 million) does not own enough to subsist at the poverty level ($4,875 in income) for three months.

4 Assets across America: Financial Security Findings on Net Worth For every one dollar in net worth of a household headed by a white adult, a minority-headed household has about 6 cents. For every one dollar in net worth of a household headed by a male, a female-headed household has less than 40 cents.

5 Federal Government Response Incent asset building for all: $362 billion a year is highly skewed to upper-income citizens. More than 45% of the benefits went to households whose average income exceeded $1 million, (less than 1% of the population). Those households with incomes exceeding $1 million receive, on average, an annual tax benefit of $155,000. The top fifth (those with household incomes greater than $80,000) received the vast bulk (88.7%) of the asset-building benefits. In contrast, the rest of the population shared 10.5% of the tax benefits, and the lowest 60% of households got a bit less than 3% of the benefits. The poorest 30% of households (those with incomes less than $20,000) receive $5 or less in average of these incentives. Overwhelmingly, tax expenditures for asset building outweigh direct expenditures ($506 to $1).

6 Existing Asset Policies for Low-Income People Family Self Sufficiency: 71,300 Assets for Independence Act: 40,000 Office of Refugee Resettlement: 73,851 American Dream Downpayment Initiative HUD: 40,000 families a year Affordable Housing Program downpayment program, Federal Home Loan Bank: 47,539 Savers Credit: 5 million IRS Split Tax-Refunds

7 Existing Program: Family Self Sufficiency, HUD HUD program, 1991-- largest of the asset building programs 71,300 people – declined about 4,000 people over past two years Funding instability caused by changes in the procedures HUD uses to allocate funding for FSS program coordinators, Unanticipated consequences of recent changes in the Housing Choice Voucher funding formula. Goal - return to HUDs prior policy of funding one public housing FSS coordinator per agency out of the public housing operating fund, Goal - revise the Housing Choice Voucher FSS Notice of Funding Availability to ensure that each agency with a FSS program receives funding for at least one FSS coordinator.

8 Existing Program: Assets for Independence (AFI), HHS AFI is administered by the Office of Community Services (OCS), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. AFI programs assist client families in placing earned income in special purpose, matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and providing financial education. From 1999-2004, OCS made 344 grants of $75,140,417 to assist 30,253 savers. A total of 211 AFI grantees reported that by the end of FY 2004, slightly more than 71,000 individuals attended an orientation session to learn more about the AFI program. Of those who attended the orientation, about 28,990 (41 %) submitted an application and 21,677 (31 %) actually enrolled in the AFI program. A total of 18,651 (26 % of those who attended the orientation) eventually opened an IDA account. Every dollar in savings deposited into an IDA by a participant is matched: more than 50% of the programs provide a $2 to $1 match while 26 programs provide varying matches based on the asset goal. From FYs 1999-2004, participants had opened 21,038 IDA accounts and at the end of FY 2004, 12,627 accounts with a total savings balance of $5.2 million were still open and the average balance among these accounts was $533. For more than half of all grants (54 %), the average balance per account holder is less than $400 but for more than one quarter of grants (28 %), the average balance is over $600. Participants saved $14.6 million with an average savings amount of $697

9 Assets for Independence Participants The typical AFI participant is female (78%), not currently married (77%), has an income level below 200% of the poverty line (92%), and possesses a high school diploma (85%). While the majority of participants live in urban areas (45% in large and 36% in minor areas), 19% live in remote areas, which is relatively consistent with the nations population dispersion as a whole. African Americans rate of participation is higher (46%) than their percentage of the population (14%). Caucasians constitute 28% of the savers, Latinos are 16%, Asian Americans are 6%, and Native Americans are 1%. More than 1/3 of AFI account holders had never used a checking account prior to enrolling in the AFI program and just about ½ had never had a savings account.

10 Assets for Independence: Savings Activity During their first year in the AFI program, the majority of participants saved between $0 and $599, with 28% saving between $200-$399. By 2004, the majority of participants were saving between $400 and $800+, with 26% saving more than $800.

11 Assets for Independence: Savings Activity By the end of 2004, 12,529 participants (41%) had withdrawn $7,257,338 from their IDAs. The average amount withdrawn was $735 per participant. Of those, 3,773 participants (30%) made unqualified withdrawals (non asset purchases without a match) of $1,533,009 from their own funds. Roughly 46% of all withdrawals were for the qualified purposes of a home, business, or education.

12 Assets for Independence: Home Purchase Home purchases were the most common asset participants purchased and also accounted for the withdrawals with the largest dollar amounts. 2,120 individuals withdrew $2,465,829. Homeownership required a greater sacrifice from participants as the average savings per participant was $1,409. The average amount of matching funds was $2,930 and the average total withdrawal plus match was $4,346 per participant.

13 Assets for Independence: Small Business Small business expenses were the second most frequent type of withdrawal and between 1999 and 2003, 1,564 individuals withdrew $1,376,506. Average withdrawal amount was $1,041 More than half (54 %) of the projects reported withdrawals of greater than $1,000. Match funds for small business development averaged $2,435, the average amount withdrawn from participant savings plus matching funds was $3,571.

14 Assets for Independence: Education 1,829 savers withdrew $1,194,149 ($943 avg savings and $2,000 match) Average savings plus match was $2,961. Almost 2/3 (61%) of postsecondary education withdrawals were between $200 and $999.

15 Assets for Independence Reauthorization Technical changes sought in reauthorization: Allow the critical financial education and economic literacy components of the AFIA program to be funded as direct program costs instead of being included in the administrative costs. Allow AFIA grantees full discretion over 20% of the nonfederal funds (up from 15%). Expand the eligibility standards to include Adjusted Gross Income ($18,000 single filer, $30,000 head of household, $38,000 for joint filers) and Area Median Income (individuals with incomes equal to or less than 65% of Area Median Income (we would prefer 80% which is consistent with other federal programs and necessary for participation in high cost areas). Remove the requirement that grantees calculate interest earned on match funds (e.g. this is highly complex and time-consuming for very little money). Other technical changes

16 Existing Asset Program: Office of Refugee Resettlement Individual Development Account Program Between 2004 - 2005, ORRs IDA program enrolled 5,420 new refugee participants and helped create over 35 million dollars of combined savings. 8,731 businesses. Funding cuts: In the past three years (2004, 2005, 2006), only $1.6 million was made available for new IDA grants. Since 2004, only eight new grants were awarded and the continuation funding dropped from a high of $18.4 million in 2004 to $0 in 2006, This is significantly less than the average of $11.6 million per year for the IDA program for up to 49 grantees during the period 2000-2005.

17 Existing Asset Program: American Dream Downpayment Initiative ADDI created in 2003 to increase homeownership rate by providing up to $10,000 or 6% of purchase price of home for downpayment and closing cost assistance Household income less than 80% of AMI Provides grants to 50 states and local PJs Assisted about 40,000 households a year Funding levels vary from $86 million in 2004 to $25 million in 2006. 2007 Budget will be lower

18 Existing Asset Program: Affordable Housing Program, FHLB The Affordable Housing Program of the Federal Home Loan Banks offer the AHP Homeownership Set-Aside Program 47,539 homeowners over ten years, about 9,000 in the past year $3 million or 25% of its annual AHP contribution Also may establish a First-time Homebuyer Set Aside Program with additional funding up to the greater of $1.5 million or 10% Funds can support downpayment, closing costs, rehabilitation or counseling. Eligible households must have incomes at or below 80% of area median income (AMI), complete a home buying counseling program, agree to a five-year retention agreement on the housing unit, and be a first-time homebuyer, if applicable, etc.

19 Existing Asset Policy: Permanent Savers Credit Included in the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (H.R. 4) Reduces income taxes based on contributions up to $2,000 to retirement savings of households earning less than $25,000 (single) $50,000 (married) a year. Income limits will rise with inflation Match amounts and rates vary between 10%, 25% and 50%. There is no similar indexing of the credit amount, which will therefore lose value over time. Not refundable thus limiting its availability to only 5 million out of a possible 61 million households. Making the credit refundable would have enabled households without a federal income tax liability to be eligible for matches to their retirement account.

20 Opt-Out/Automatic IRAs Congress recently included changes in the Pension Bill that permits employers to let employees opt-out rather than opt-in. Opting out means an employer would have to choose NOT to participate in a retirement plan. A seminal study demonstrated that inertia and choice of the opt-out decision increases participation levels from 38% to 86% for low income workers. This 86% is comparable to higher income workers.

21 Existing Policy: Split Refunds IRS introducing split refunds 2007 Three Account Options Must provide account number and routing number

22 Recommended Asset Policies Expand Matched Savings Accounts: Make the Savers Credit refundable. Enact an IDA Tax Credit Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit Convert the homeownership deduction to a credit. Offer fairer and better retirement plan design. Childrens Savings Accounts

23 Proposed Asset Policy: Savings for Working Families, S. 922/HR 4751 Federal tax credit to financial institutions that match the savings of 900,000 adults between ages 18-60. Federal adjusted gross income does not exceed $20,000 (single), $30,000 (head of household), or $40,000 (married). accounts restricted to three uses that help low-income families build appreciating assets: (1) buying a first home; (2) receiving post-secondary education; or (3) starting or expanding a small business. Financial institutions would be reimbursed for the matching funds they provide, plus a limited amount of the program and administrative costs incurred, specifically: The aggregate amount of dollar-for-dollar match funding provided (up to $500 per person per year for four years), plus an annual $50 per account credit to maintain the account and provide financial education.

24 Proposed Asset Policy: Savings for Working Families, S. 922/HR 4751 Popular and Bipartisan: Annual Commitment of President Bush who includes the IDA Tax Credit in his budget Strong bi-partisan support: 55 co-sponsors in the House (27 R, 28 D), 15 co-sponsors in the Senate History of success – passed the Senate twice (2001, 2003) More than 500 constituent letters (provides match, financial education) History Passed the Senate twice Six years of advocacy Support of major institutions, firms, and organizations Major media attention and awareness of IDAs

25 Latest on legislation, track bills, send messages

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