While we are grateful to member engagement and advocacy around key priorities in the tax reform bill as several were successfully addressed in the final legislation approved this week, Prosperity Indiana spent the past month urging lawmakers to oppose this bill as it failed to include the kinds of equitable reforms we sought to increase economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income households.
Here are some of the critical highlights for Prosperity Indiana's member interests:
Prosperity Indiana’s advocacy will continue as we fight to protect critical safety net and community development programs moving forward.
Congress is currently debating tax reform proposals that will have dramatic implications for community development programs and incentives, such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, New Markets Tax Credit, Private Activity Bonds, Child Tax Credit, and Mortgage Interest Deduction.
Prosperity Indiana members are urged to click today on the link below to send a pre-drafted letter to your senators and member of Congress. The letter urges them to enact equitable tax reform that increases economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income households and helps promote community prosperity.
Simply add your name and any examples applicable to your work to illustrate why these actions are important to you, enter your address, and submit! Your letter will be automatically sent to Senator Young, Senator Donnelly, and your Representative.
"As your constituent and an advocate for strong Hoosier communities, I urge you to stand up for equitable tax reform that empowers low-and middle-income households and promotes job growth and economic prosperity throughout our state.
Congress is debating tax reform proposals that will have enduring policy implications. This reform will shape how individuals access economic opportunity and how local communities respond to the needs of its citizens. As such, I urge you to ensure the following provisions are included in tax reform legislation.
Reform the Mortgage Interest Deduction: Congress must reform the mortgage interest deduction (MID) by lowering the amount of a mortgage on which a deduction can be claimed from $1 million to $500,000 and eliminate the deduction eligibility for second homes. In Indiana, only .8% of mortgages are higher than $500,000. Savings from the MID are better directed at housing supports for Hoosiers in need of access to quality affordable rental housing. In times of scarce federal resources to support the lowest income Hoosiers, the MID savings should be dedicated to addressing the urgent lack of affordable and stable housing through increased investments in the National Housing Trust Fund, rental assistance, and proven solutions to end homelessness. While housing appears affordable in our state, the reality is that renters earning minimum wage in Indiana have to work 67 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rental home at Fair Market Rent and 84 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom, which introduces significant barriers to low-income families.
Preserve Private Activity Bonds: Tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds (PABs) are a crucial financing tool that spurs local economic development in vital housing, infrastructure, and public facilities. Multifamily and single-family mortgage revenue private activity bonds help ensure there is an adequate supply of affordable housing. Roughly half of all low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) developments utilize PABs and 4% tax credits. Any effort to eliminate PABs would mean communities throughout Indiana would have a more difficult time financing these projects; and local governments would have to borrow at higher interest rates, resulting in a drastic cut in the production and preservation of affordable housing in our state.
Protect the Low Income Housing Tax Credit: In addition to preserving PABs, I urge you to support ongoing investments in affordable housing production by implementing reforms to the LIHTC program and offsetting proposed cuts in the corporate tax rate. From 1987 through 2015, LIHTCs have financed 7,224 affordable apartments in Indiana and generated $6.13 in billion local income. In 2015 alone, they helped to finance 13 affordable housing developments with 2,023 apartments in our state. However, reductions in the corporate tax rate negatively affect the amount of LIHTC equity that can be raised. I ask you to help increase the amount of allocable LIHTCs and modernize the formula by which the annual LIHTC percentage is determined to ensure these developments remain financially feasible.
Maintain the Historic Tax Credit: The Historic Credit encourages private investment in the rehabilitation of historic buildings, attracting over $131 billion in private capital nationwide since its inception. These investments help finance the gap between development costs and what banks will lend to rehabilitate historic buildings that are often abandoned to return them to productive use.
Include a permanent extension of the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC): The NMTC program incentivizes private investors to pursue businesses or economic development projects located in distressed, low-income communities. Between 2003 and 2014, $385.7 million in NMTC investments leveraged an additional $109.6 million from other sources for a total of $495.3 million in project financing to 44 projects and businesses in Indiana. There are no other federal tax incentives dedicated to promoting economic revitalization in distressed communities.
Ensure that the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit help low-income families: I ask that you work to ensure the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit programs, and any expansions or adjustments to refundability, are targeted to help boost the incomes of low- and moderate-income families. Doing so will enable them to pay for childcare, engage in the workforce, and better achieve financial stability.
Lastly, I ask that you ensure any cuts in corporate tax rates are not offset by budget cuts to critical social safety net programs that would destabilize our communities. Thank you for your consideration of these proposals to help align scarce federal resources with policies that empower individual households and promote prosperity."
November 8 is World Town Planning Day. World Town Planning Day was initiated in 1949 by the late Professor Carlos Maria della Paolera of the University of Buenos Aires to advance public and professional interest in planning, both locally and abroad. In the meantime the World Town Planning Day is celebrated in 30 countries on four continents each November 8. It is a special day to give special recognition to the ideals of community planning which bring professional planners and the general public together. World Town Planning Day presents an opportunity to look at planning from a global perspective.
In the United States, National Planning Month is celebrated in October. During this time the American Planning Association (APA) celebrates great places in the country and hosts/participated in activities to raise awareness of the impact planning policies and decisions have on every day life. Information about the 2017 National Planning Month are available here. Prosperity Indiana has been involved in the Planners4Health initiative throughout 2017 that connects the planning and public health professions in ways that advance health in all plans and strengthen the connection between the built environment and health. More information about P4H is available here.
Did you know Prosperity Indiana has a professional, certified planner on staff to help you with a variety of planning initiatives?
Rose Scovel, AICP is an alumna of the urban planning and public administration programs at Ball State University and has nearly 20 years professional experience working with communities in Indiana and around the country. She has worked in community economic development for half her career, and spent eight years as a private planning consultant in large multidisciplinary and small planning specialty firms. She has been a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) since 2002. As Director of Planning Services for Prosperity Indiana, Rose works with members on a fee-for-service basis to develop housing needs assessments, HUD required plans, neighborhood/QoL plans, and a variety of other plans. She also provides training on planning related topics.
Recent projects include:
The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) seeks a full-time Fair Housing Test Coordinator. Responsibilities include recruitment, training, and coordination of FHCCI part-time testers; investigation of discrimination in housing in violation of fair housing laws; outreach and public education; and preparation of reports.
Attention to detail, accuracy, and organization skills a must. Must have ability to work successfully with others. Must be able to work independently as well as know when to seek guidance. Must be able to complete detailed report analysis and provide positive mentoring to fair housing testers. Must have the capacity to speak in public to conduct effective trainings for testers. Spanish speaking a plus. Must have reliable transportation. Due to federal grant requirements, this position requires a criminal background check and assurance of no conflicts related to litigation based needs.
To learn more about the position, view the detailed job description [PDF].
To apply for this position:
Applications will ONLY be considered if all the above items are received. Email your completed application with the subject title "Fair Housing Test Coordinator" to the attention of Amy Nelson, Executive Director, at email@example.com.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis needs the expertise and perspectives of Prosperity Indiana members and partners to help shape the 2017 edition of the Community Development Outlook Survey of low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities.
The Bank is looking for a strong response from Indiana to ensure good data representing our state. Prosperity Indiana members and partners are on the frontline working with low and moderate income communities. Your expertise is necessary for perspective. Please share 5-10 minutes to help enrich the data for this online survey?
The information you provide will help inform the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank and its branches in Little Rock, Louisville and Memphis about the current conditions of LMI communities across Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. In addition, survey results are shared with other community development practitioners and stakeholders like yourself, as well as policymakers in your communities and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.
Individual or organizational identification will be scrubbed for anonymity. Collectively, responses will be published as data for the entire Bank district, state-level data, sector-level data, and sample/abbreviated answers to open-ended responses. Results will be posted online at the St. Louis Fed's Community Development website and shared in communities across the region. To view the 2016 report, click here.
Take the survey now.
The City of Greencastle is seeking a City Planning Director to serve as staff person to the Greencastle Plan Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, and Technical Review Committee; code enforcement official for the City of Greencastle in regards to property maintenance complaints and unsafe buildings; liaison between developers/contractors/design professionals and the City of Greencastle in matters of site development and building; and representative of the City Planning Department at various board meetings.
A bachelor’s degree in urban planning, engineering, geography, public policy or related field is required and a minimum 3-5 years of experience in urban planning is preferred. Experience in preparing and presenting reports and proposals as well as administering public meetings is also desirable.
See the full job description and qualifications here: https://www.indianaplanning.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Planner-JobDesc.-lrh-102017.doc
Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter to Mayor William A. Dory, Jr., City of Greencastle, P.O. Box 607, Greencastle, IN, 46135; or email to Linda Huber at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 765-653-8707
Applications due no later than Friday, November 3, 2017.
Prosperity Indiana's policy team joined faith-based, veterans and consumer advocates as well as a former payday lending client for a press call on the release of the new CFPB rule. Representatives spoke in favor of the rule, but noted that the CFPB did not have the authority to change the cost of payday loans. They called on Indiana lawmakers to take further action to lower the interest rate.
10/6/2017: On October 5, 2017 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a finalized new rule aimed at reducing predatory lending through regulations that protect consumers from payday debt traps. The CFPB came to its decision after five years of research and outreach to organizations across the country. The rule was first proposed in June of 2016 and Prosperity Indiana subsequently submitted comments to the CFPB after receiving feedback from state and national partners.
The new rule seeks to put in place protections that cover payday, auto title, and balloon pay-day loans. These loans are typically for two to four weeks, and endanger the financial well-being of consumers because of their high interest rates and tendency to be lent to individuals who are not able to pay back the loan in the allotted time. Prosperity Indiana commented in 2016 that:
“Payday lenders already charge Hoosiers rates as high as 382% on a $300, two-week loan. This is especially problematic for low-income households, amongst whom these loans have become pervasive in their use in Indiana. Nationally, the payday lending usage rate is 5.5%, compared to Indiana, which has a significantly higher usage rate of 9%.”
The rule issued by the CFPB includes the following provisions:
Full - payment test: Requirement that lenders must determine if the consumer can afford the loan. Prosperity Indiana commented in 2016 that the full-payment test is the most crucial component of the rule, especially the cooling-off period. The new rule will cap the amount of subsequent loans at 3. Prosperity Indiana previously noted that over 80% of payday loans are followed by repeat loans, and 15% of payday loans are a part of a sequence of loans that is at least ten loans long.
Principal payoff option for short term loans: Allows consumers to take out a loan of up to $500 without the full payment test if the loan allows the borrower to get out of debt in a more efficient way. Debt traps are prevented under this provision by not allowing loans to be distributed to borrowers with outstanding recent short-term loans or balloon payment-loans. The cooling off period still applies.
Debit attempt cutoff: Prosperity Indiana commented in 2016 that withdrawal limits and notification requirements are essential to protect consumers. A debit cutoff will be implemented for loans with an annual percentage rate of over 36 percent. Lenders must give consumers notice before making a debit attempt at an irregular interval or amount after two unsuccessful attempts. This provision will protect consumers from unanticipated payments, or fees incurred from returned payments for insufficient funds.
The new CFPB rule will take effect 21 months after it is published in the Federal Register. Although the current rule does not address all of Prosperity Indiana’s concerns, it is a step in the right direction which will mitigate the burden that predatory loans have on Hoosiers, including the reduction of the $70.6 million in interest payments on payday lending spent in 2011 alone.
If you are interested in viewing Prosperity Indiana’s comments on the then proposed CFPB rule in 2016 please visit: http://iaced.sitepotion.com/2016/10/iaced-submits-comments-on-cfpb-proposed-payday-lending-rule, and https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-finalizes-rule-stop-payday-debt-traps/ to view the CFPB’s ruling.
Prosperity Indiana is seeking to fill two positions: an AmeriCorps Program Coordinator and a part-time Administrative Assistant.
The AmeriCorps Program Coordinator is responsible for managing all of the program components necessary for carrying out the objectives, policies and procedures of the Indiana Financial Capability Corps program and working with the Training Director to facilitate professional development opportunities for the AmeriCorps members. The position requires statewide travel and reports to the Associate Executive Director.
The position of Administrative Assistant also reports to the Associate Executive Director and supports the Prosperity Indiana staff with tasks that build the capacity of Prosperity Indiana, its members, and partners. The position will provide administrative support for the organization and Prosperity Indiana’s training program. The successful candidate will be customer service-oriented, write well and communicate effectively, and understand bookkeeping. Attention to detail and accuracy are a must in order to successfully juggle and accomplish multiple tasks.
For more details, click to see the full job descriptions:
AMERICORPS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Interested in joining our team?
E-mail and/or mail resume, cover letter, and references to:
Jessica Love, Associate Executive Director, email@example.comProsperity Indiana
202 East Market Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
On October 5 and 6, Indianapolis will host the Midwest Asset Building Conference. The Conference will convene asset building coalitions from five states in the Midwest—Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio—to learn about the challenges present in the asset building field and work toward identifying viable solutions. Fundamental to each challenge, from the small business credit gap to the pervasiveness of predatory financial practices to the racial wealth divide, is the objective to create and retain wealth.
Wealth creation refers to the process of accumulating assets while wealth retention refers to the ability to maintain ownership of existing assets. Wealth creation and retention are both an individual phenomenon, e.g., an investor purchasing stock, as well as a community phenomenon, e.g., a major employer divesting itself from a community.
A community-level example that has recently gained prominence in political discourse is the loss of manufacturing jobs in the rust-belt. Communities that were once vibrant manufacturing towns have felt the impact of employer divestment. The opioid crisis, which disproportionately affects rust-belt manufacturing communities, is one example of how loss of wealth destabilizes the economic well-being of families, as well as communities’ very social fabric.
The Conference will discuss these structural problems—three of which are the small business credit gap, predatory financial products and practices, and the racial wealth divide.
Small businesses, which feel market swings more acutely than big businesses, are denied credit at a much higher rate. The credit gap is especially pronounced for minority-, women-, and rural-owned businesses—consequently, decreasing their opportunity to build wealth.
Predatory financial products and practices—from student loans to debt collection to payday loans—continue to strip wealth from families, and particularly from communities of color. Sixty percent of payday loan borrowers in Indiana take out a new loan the day they pay off the old loan, which pushes borrowers into a debt trap that impacts the entire state’s economy. In Indiana, payday loans drain an estimated $70 million from the economy each year.
In America, the typical white family holds 16 times more wealth than the typical black family. The racial wealth divide is a consequence of wealth-building policies that were designed to disadvantage people of color. As America moves toward becoming a majority-minority nation, the racial wealth divide worsens the political and economic outcomes for the entire country.
So what’s a community development practitioner to do?
Attend the Midwest Asset Building Conference to find out! We’ll be discussing solutions—both universal and unique to the diverse communities in which we work, including:
· The benefits of the cooperative business model
· Consumer protections and innovations in payday loan alternatives
· Solutions to rectify the inequities implicit in past wealth-building policies
Is your community interested in local food as a tool for prosperity and resilience? Prosperity Indiana is proud to partner with Purdue Extension to sponsor the upcoming Indiana Food Summit on September 25-26 in Indianapolis. This event provides learning, networking and sharing opportunities for the people, communities and organizations working to create an Indiana food system that is more resilient, economically vibrant and diverse.
Prosperity Indiana staff will be participating on two different panel discussions. Kathleen Lara, Policy Director, will be a panelist on Engaging Your Elected Officials: How to tell your story and make it meaningful for our representatives, and Allyson Mitchell, Director of Sustainability, will be participating on the panel entitled Sustainability, Quality of Place, Economic Development and….Local Food?
We hope Prosperity Indiana members will attend this event to learn more about how local food and community economic development are complementary. Register for the event by September 19 at this link.
My name is Matt Watkins, and I recently began my policy internship with Prosperity Indiana. I am currently a Junior at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) studying Civic Leadership and Policy Studies within the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). I pursued an internship with Prosperity Indiana because I share the organizations fundamental belief in the importance of community and I want to contribute to the advancement of policies that promote economic development and upward social mobility. After graduation, I plan to pursue further education and a subsequent career that focuses on public service work that promotes strong communities, as communities are the foundation of our society at large. I am thrilled to work with you and on your behalf alongside Prosperity Indiana staff.
A week into my internship, I had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting for the Indiana Coalition for Human Services (ICHS). Prosperity Indiana is one of 28 ICHS member organizations utilizing the power of their collective impact to empower Hoosiers striving to reach their full potential. I wanted to share a few key updates from that meeting that are particularly important to Prosperity Indiana’s members.
Two speakers were featured at the event. Tamara Fucile, the Director for Government Affairs for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, focused on federal budget updates and MaryBeth Musumeci, the Associate Director at the Program on Medicaid, and the Uninsured for the Kaiser Family Foundation, gave a federal Medicaid update.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Key Points of Discussion
Kaiser Family Foundation: Key Points of Discussion
In addition to the presentations, ICHS leaders outlined coalition successes from the past year and previewed the work that lies ahead for 2018. Over the course of the past year, ICHS advanced legislation addressing suicide prevention and increased the number of social workers in Indiana by reforming social work licensing requirements. Additionally, ICHS members, including Prosperity Indiana, were able to prevent a bill that expanded payday lending in Indiana. Legislative priorities for the upcoming legislative session include firearms regulation, defense for parents with children within the Department of Child Services system, nonprofit property tax exemption, and food deserts.
The ICHS annual meeting was a great way for me to become more familiar with the work that Prosperity Indiana and our partners carry out. I was able to see how ICHS leveraged the power of their members to advance policy goals and legislation to improve the lives of Hoosiers throughout the state. I am looking forward to assisting Prosperity Indiana members and our policy team to do just that over the next three months. Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.