Today, Prosperity Indiana rose in opposition to SB 309, a bill that would end net metering and solar energy investment, which would have dramatic and negative consequences for community development organizations and sustainable development throughout the state.
Prosperity Indiana’s Director of Sustainability, Allyson Mitchell, was joined by other non-profit advocates, residents, local businesses, environmental advocates, and school corporation representatives in offering testimony opposed to the measure. Read her testimony below for context on the bill’s impact for Prosperity Indiana’s membership.
SENATE UTILITIES COMMITTEETESTIMONY, SB 309ALLYSON MITCHELL, DIRECTOR OF SUSTAINABILITYFEBRUARY 9, 2017
Chairman Merritt and members of the committee,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak this morning. My name is Allyson Mitchell and I am the Director of Sustainability for Prosperity Indiana, formerly the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development, or IACED. We are a network of 230 non-profit organizations, units of local government, private companies and institutions dedicated to building vibrant communities and resilient families. I hope that my testimony will give voice to other Prosperity Indiana members in urban, suburban and rural communities across the state committed to using energy alternatives to make a difference in our communities, and those who work on the front lines assisting low-income individuals and families ascend from poverty into economic stability.
Working to advance policies that respond to urgent human needs, help expand economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in communities of all sizes throughout the state is essential to our members and partners. That is why I come before the committee today urging opposition to SB 309, a bill that will limit the choices for low income Hoosiers to pursue strategies for economic self-sufficiency.
It is critical to recognize the natural intersections between the benefits of distributed energy generation like solar and the needs and interests of low-income communities. Solar technology, coupled with efforts to increase energy efficiency, can dramatically lower utility costs for residential properties. While certainly beneficial to everyone, these kinds of outcomes can have particular significance for lower-income households, who often struggle to stretch earnings to cover basic costs like utilities, health care, and transportation. We feel Senate Bill 309 does not consider the interests of low-income Hoosiers.
Rooftop solar provides individuals with the ability and independence to generate their own electricity. You may not picture the mobile home owner who wants to use solar panels to reduce his monthly utility bill and have more money to feed his children when you imagine rooftop solar. Or the low income housing developer pursuing solar to help his tenants keep up with their bills and keep their lights on. But rooftop solar is indeed used exactly those ways. It is a path to personal financial responsibility for low income Hoosiers in cities, small towns and rural areas. Indiana should be increasing, not limiting, the choices and opportunities for low income Hoosiers to improve their quality of life.
In my role at Prosperity Indiana, I am developing a program called Solar Uniting Neighbors, or SUN. The program aims to remove inequalities and barriers to the acquisition and installation of solar panels, lower energy costs for transformative community economic development projects, and build capacity for solar energy in Indiana. We envision solar panels on the roof of our member organizations - soaking up rays, lowering operating costs, thereby allowing more funds for programs that help low income individuals help themselves. We also envision providing a low interest loan to a low-income, single-parent homeowner for a small solar array so she can afford her electric bill year-round and build credit in anticipation of sending her daughter to college. If passed, Senate Bill 309 could eliminate these types of projects.
Prosperity Indiana and its members believe in working collaboratively on asset-building strategies that help lift Hoosiers out of poverty permanently, and access to net metering is one such strategy. Senate Bill 309 ultimately eliminates net metering, a critical part of financial infrastructure within solar project financing that ensures low-income Hoosiers can access the sun to power their homes, their personal financial goals - and their dreams.
We have concern that Senate Bill 309 does not take into account the impact that ending net metering would have on low income Hoosiers and therefore we urge you to vote NO on Senate Bill 309. Thank you for your time today.
An article by Prosperity Indiana Executive Director Andy Fraizer on succession planning was featured in the Fall 2016 edition of Bridges, a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In it, Andy highlights the advance planning that member HOPE of Evansville did to ensure a successful executive transition.
HOPE's Executive Director Josh Case said, "Time, patience, flexibility and oversight from the leadership at HOPE helped me adjust well to this new role.”
Read the article on the St. Louis Fed website.
Bridges is a quarterly review of regional community and economic development issues, projects and regulatory changes for practitioners from community-based organizations, as well as for Community Reinvestment Act officers, academics and government officials.
Andy's appointment to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Community Development Advisory Committee (CDAC) was announced in April 2016.
Prosperity Indiana is pleased to announce our list of training opportunities for 2017. These courses are underwritten by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
The training agenda includes:
Each course will be two days in length. The dates and locations will be announced soon; watch for an email announcement. You can also find details for training and other events on our website at www.prosperityindiana.org/events.
Prosperity Indiana held its statehouse day, Prosperity IN Action, on January 31, 2017. Among the more than 40 participants were members and partners representing a broad spectrum of services, interests and communities across the state. In addition to their individual concerns, participants were also asked to discuss the ways the network’s 2017 priorities, including Senate Bill 559, SB245 and SB227 and its companion bill HB1097 addressing foreclosure counseling resources, charitable property tax treatment, and combating efforts to expand payday lending, affect their work and clients.
Neil Elkins, Housing Services Director for TRI-CAP in Jasper, attended to discuss a variety of bills that TRI-CAP is following. He said TRI-CAP is most focused on the state’s PRE-K program and finding ways it can work in tandem with the organization’s federal Head Start funds; the potential expansion of payday lending; and the tax exempt status clarification for nonprofit affordable housing developers, since TRI-CAP is the owner of Neighborhood Stabilization Program properties being rented to residents that are below 50% of area median income.
“We are being taxed pretty heavily on these homes. We want to take the charity purpose decision away from the assessors and make it consistent throughout the state,” Elkins said. “We frankly wanted to support all of [Prosperity Indiana’s] platforms on that day. We also wanted to show our support to Prosperity Indiana and their efforts that they put forth to support the nonprofit agencies in Indiana.”
TRI-CAP used the statehouse day as a launching pad for new and improved relationships with legislators. He said it was important to attend in person because, although TRI-CAP has a great relationship with the state and federal senators and representatives serving Jasper, the organization operates programs in more than 22 Indiana counties and rarely meets with other state legislators in neighboring counties. As a result of the statehouse day, TRI-CAP has since met with another state senator and a representative and is scheduling more visits by legislators to their office in Jasper in the coming months.
Kathleen Lara, Policy Director, said it is the passion and commitment from members like Elkins that make Prosperity Indiana’s efforts important and successful.
"I'm really thankful for the vision of our policy committee, which helped drive this event, and for the many members who participated in our statehouse day. Face-to-face time between constituents who represent member organizations and their legislators is enormously effective in demonstrating the true community-level impact of their work and how our policy priorities empower local efforts. It increases accountability and builds relationships between policymakers and the individuals working hard to build strong communities throughout the state," Lara said.
She added, “And as important as that one day was, it's also critical for members to stay engaged throughout the session to raise their voices through testimony, calls, meetings and emails to their legislators. And then after session is over, we'll need their help in crafting our priorities for the future. Our work is never done; but it's far more effective when we're doing it in partnership with those in the field who can tell the stories of impact on those who need us most."
For details on Prosperity Indiana’s 2017 state priorities, go here. To stay connected to Prosperity Indiana’s advocacy efforts and other initiatives year-round, in addition to following the blog, subscribe to the member newsletter, connect via Facebook or Twitter, and go to the advocacy action center to check out current campaigns, sign up for action alerts and more.
A PLACE TO CALL HOME…
If you’re interested in developing, maintaining, and promoting a place to call home for low-income families, you may find the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis’ half-day Affordable Housing Program and Community Investment Workshops helpful to you and the work you’re doing.
In 2016, FHLBI provided their members and sponsors with almost $15 million in grant dollars to support local affordable housing needs throughout Michigan and Indiana.
They’re gearing up to do the same in 2017, and it all begins with these workshops. Learn how to use FHLBI’s programs to help those in need in your communities:
Plus, the workshops provide networking opportunities for FHLBI members to connect with housing developers and community development practitioners to partner and access these programs.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
Evansville IN (Register)
Holiday Inn Airport
Indianapolis IN (Register)
South Bend IN (Register)
Hilton Garden Inn
Prosperity Indiana is looking to grow its capacity again – this time even more focused on how we can support members’ work through capacity building support.
We are currently recruiting four VISTA positions. One of them will replace our current Assets & Opportunity Network VISTA Kelan Fong, who still has plenty of work to do before wrapping up his term in June. When asked what drew him to VISTA, Kelan admitted that he was initially drawn to the program partly because he thought it would be easier than looking for jobs elsewhere, since VISTA provides an extensive jobs listing from which to choose. But he also wanted to do something that mattered.
“I’ve always wanted to work with a nonprofit. I wanted to learn more about the nonprofit world in Indianapolis and make more connections,” Kelan said. “Working here, I get to see what the nonprofit field is like more in-depth, and I obviously wanted to make a difference as well, which I think I have.”
Much of Kelan’s work has been focused on the rollout and delivery of the Your Money, Your Goals training program for the A&O Network. In 2016, 150 individuals from 98 legal aid and social service organizations were trained on this toolkit that helps front line staff and volunteers incorporate financial conversations into their case work. Your Money, Your Goals provides the resources needed “to help people set goals, choose financial products, and build skills in managing money, credit, and debt.”
Kelan has also contributed to the communications strategy of the network, helped build an Expert Directory for A&O Network partners, and is working on his legacy project related to lending circles. But Kelan has not just built the capacity of Prosperity Indiana through the A&O Network; his service with the organization and the Network has likewise built his capacity as a recent graduate and young professional.
“This is the first 40-hour workweek position that I’ve had. So, I’ve definitely grown. I think I’ve gotten a lot more organized. And although I haven’t done advocacy, I’ve learned a lot by being exposed to policy work and how that happens at the state level. It’s also been good to learn best practices about how to help low-income Americans,” Kelan said.
And referencing the subsistence living allowance provided to VISTAs, he laughed, “It has definitely also helped with my budgeting as well.”
For those interested in becoming the new A&O VISTA, or filling one of the other positions Prosperity Indiana will host, potential applicants should visit the VISTA Campus “How to Apply to AmeriCorps VISTA” page. Prosperity Indiana’s VISTA positions are listed on the job board under the following Program Names:
Assets & Opportunity Network (described above)
Nonprofit Impact (to support strategic plan goals like building the Outcomes Platform and establishing an Institute, or laboratory, framework for Comprehensive Community Development capacity building)
Member Capacity Builder (to work onsite with members to fill short-term or project-based capacity gaps)
Those interested in filling the VISTA positions, or any members interested in a Member Capacity Builder placement, may contact Jessica Love, Associate Executive Director, with any questions.
On Wednesday, February 1, Prosperity Indiana's policy team and one of our members, Regina Flowers, a housing counselor with the Community Action Program of Evansville & Vanderburgh County, Inc., delivered powerful testimony supporting SB 227. The bill would preserve critical foreclosure counseling resources for Hoosier homeowners in trouble by extending the foreclosure filing fee which is due to sunset in July of this year. The fee is paid by lenders each time they file a foreclosure proceeding. Those resources are then directed to statewide efforts to prevent foreclosures, through the Mortgage Foreclosure Counseling and Education Account. The bill was not voted on during the hearing, but received favorable consideration by committee members, based on discussions during the proceedings. Our one pager background on the bill can be found here. Thank you, Senator Jim Merritt, for your leadership on this initiative! Read on for Prosperity Indiana's full testimony.
COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC POLICY, TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF SB 227, KATHLEEN LARA, POLICY DIRECTOR, FEBRUARY 1, 2017
Chairman Alting and members of the committee,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak this afternoon. My name is Kathleen Lara and I am the Policy Director for Prosperity Indiana, a network of 230 non-profit organizations, units of local government, private companies and institutions dedicated to building strong communities.
Working to advance policies that respond to urgent human needs and improve the quality of life in communities of all sizes throughout the state is essential to our members. That is why I come before the committee today urging strong support for SB 227. I would also like to thank Senator Merritt for this leadership on this important piece of legislation.
Around the state, our members and partners work diligently to help those few economic opportunities build assets and achieve housing stability through a large and diverse portfolio of programs. Housing counseling, and in particular, foreclosure prevention counseling, is a keystone of those efforts as it provides emergency assistance for homeowners in crisis.
The foreclosure filing fee, which helps to fund the Foreclosure Prevent Network hotline and counseling services as Senator Merritt mentioned is imperative to interventions statewide. This counseling assistance includes managing household finances to resolve a delinquency, informing the client of options for resolving the delinquency, helping negotiate with lenders, providing information on financial assistance programs, explaining the foreclosure process, providing referrals to other service providers (including legal counsel), and sometimes helping to find alternative housing.
We know that foreclosure prevention housing counseling is extremely effective in helping struggling Hoosiers save their homes. The evidence is not just anecdotal. According to the latest figures from HOPE NOW, which is included in the papers I passed around, 770 permanent home loan modifications occurred in Indiana in the 3rd Quarter of last year alone. Additionally, two of every five homeowners who go through the GET HOPE hotline and attend a settlement conference, also funded through the filing fee proceeds, achieve a non-foreclosure workout.
In May of last year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a publication finding that counseled clients were 2.83 times more likely to receive a loan modification and were 70 percent less likely to redefault on a modified loan than were similar borrowers who were not counseled. The publication also reported homeowners who received a mortgage modification to resolve a serious delinquency were 45 percent more likely to sustain that modification if it was obtained with the help of housing counseling.
We are fortunate today to be joined by one of our members, Regina Flowers with the Community Action Program of Evansville who will speak to her experiences in working with struggling homeowners first-hand. She will share what consumers are facing even though foreclosure rates throughout the state are below the rates we saw during the peak of the housing crisis. We know that the work is not complete and that is why it is so critical to extend the foreclosure filing fee before it is set to expire. According to the GET HOPE data, at the end of the 3rd quarter in September, there were still 20,663 loans over 60 days delinquent and 639 foreclosure starts in Indiana. Further, RealtyTrac found that in December, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in Indiana was 54% higher than the previous month and 30% higher than the same time last year even though nationwide, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing was 1% lower than the previous month and 17% lower than the same time last year.
There is still an urgent need for the counseling and legal resources funded in part by the foreclosure filing fee proceeds and it is important to note those funds fluctuate depending on the number of foreclosures filed. So, if there are fewer foreclosures, the proceeds are diminished. By the nature of how the fee was set up, we are funding these programs in proportion to need throughout the state.
As a representative of members who are interested in both saving the homes of Hoosiers and stabilizing local real estate markets to create economic opportunity for working families, I urge your support for the measure and thank you for your time today.
INDIANAPOLIS – Prosperity Indiana will host Prosperity IN Action at the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday, January 31. The event is designed to bring together representatives from Prosperity Indiana’s membership, representing community economic development drivers, with state lawmakers. Prosperity Indiana, its members and partners will urge lawmakers to act on critical policy priorities that respond to urgent human needs, help expand economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in communities of all sizes.
Kathleen Lara, Prosperity Indiana’s Policy Director, said, “We want to see our members directly engaged with their legislators so policymakers better understand the impact of members’ work. We believe it is important for legislators to hear firsthand how our policy priorities affect their constituents and communities.”
Lara identified Prosperity Indiana’s key priorities for 2017 as clarifying the affordable housing property tax exemption, defending key programs in the budget, protecting consumers and strengthening asset building opportunities for low-income Hoosier families. In terms of the affordable housing property tax exemption, Prosperity Indiana wants to see the enactment of legislation that clarifies that tax exemption for 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that own and operate affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families should be consistently applied throughout all of Indiana’s 92 counties. Senate Bill 559 addresses this concern.
See the full press release here.
The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) is seeking summer interns for several different divisions:
The Community Programs intern serves as part of the Community Programs team, which administers programs related to energy assistance, weatherization, and homeownership counseling for low income and vulnerable populations.
Community Services - Continuum of Care or Coordinated Entry
The Community Services interns serve as part of a team which provides funding and program management for the organizations serving persons experiencing homelessness in the Indiana Balance of State Continuum of Care (CoC). See http://www.indianabos.org/coc for more information about the CoC.
The Internal Audit intern will assist in evaluating existing internal control documentation, testing current processes and providing recommendations. The Internal Audit Intern is expected to constructively work with departments to improve internal controls across the organization.
Housing Choice Voucher
The Housing Choice Voucher intern serves as part of the Community Programs Department. Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) funding received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides rental assistance to over 4800 families within IHCDA’s jurisdiction. Please visit http://in.gov/ihcda/2333.htm for additional information on the HCV program.
Legislative Affairs and Policy
The Legislative Affairs and Policy intern provides logistical and program support for an education and outreach effort to encourage dialogue around critical housing and community development issues among practitioners, policy makers, and the communities they serve.
Real Estate Production
The Real Estate Development Production intern will work to develop an outreach strategy for the programs that the Real Estate Production administers, including HOME Investment Partnership, Community Development Block Grant Owner Occupied Rehabilitation, and Ramp Up.
The City of Bloomington seeks a full-time Assistant Director for the Housing and Neighborhood Development Department. The position oversees coordination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) process; assists with the oversight of the housing counseling program, including providing housing counseling to individuals. Assists with the Rental Inspection Program, as needed. Attends departmental boards and commission meetings, as needed. Supervises the front line staff in their daily activities.
Candidates should have a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration or related field. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of construction finance and pro forma analysis. Ability to interpret and apply federal laws and regulations dealing with community and economic development programs. They should also have a thorough knowledge of the housing market and industry practices and finance issues.
Minimum three to five years working in a government environment or experience in implementing governmental programs. Supervisory experience. Knowledge of and experience in implementing the federal CDBG and HOME programs. Salary $62,500-$68,182.
Interested parties may apply by fax (812-349-3446), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or at City Hall, Human Resources Department, 401 N Morton Street, Suite 230, Bloomington, IN.