• 16 Feb 2017 8:00 PM | Deleted user

    As we outlined in our introduction to this year’s session of the Indiana General Assembly, fighting back efforts to expand predatory lending in our state was identified as a top state policy priority for this year.  Accordingly, Prosperity Indiana has been hard at work with other non-profit advocates to stop SB 245 from advancing  in the Senate.   Today, we are excited to announce that we were successful in killing off the bill, thanks in part to your engagement, responses to our action alert and Prosperity Indiana member testimony. Steve Hoffman, the President of the Prosperity Indiana Board and the President/CEO of Brightpoint, based in Fort Wayne, provided testimony opposed to the measure and shared client insights and details of the Community Loan Center his organization administers to reduce reliance on payday lending.

    The bill was under consideration in the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions committee and after testimony from advocacy organizations, members of the faith-based community, veterans, former payday borrowers, and a former payday lending employee, the bill ultimately died with a bipartisan vote of 4-5. 

    That vote was particularly critical considering an amendment was offered at the last minute that was billed as a less harmful version of the bill, but it still would have allowed a loan amount to $1750 for up to 18 months at an interest rate to 18% per month on the principal balance, which would work out to 216% APR, a harmful product for vulnerable consumers.

    Below is the testimony provided by Kathleen Lara, Prosperity Indiana's Policy Director.


    FEBRUARY 16, 2017

    Thank you Chairman Holdman and Members of the Committee,

    My name is Kathleen Lara and I am the Policy Director for Prosperity Indiana an organization that represents 230 non-profits, units of local government, private companies statewide dedicated to building stronger communities.

    I wanted to start by taking a moment to express that we also appreciate that bill supporters tried to make improvements to the loan terms compared to the original bill and also that we respect the committee’s interest in trying to find ways to meet the needs of unbanked or under banked individuals and families, but we still feel SB 245 is the wrong approach.

    You have already heard exactly how high-cost loans trap vulnerable consumers in debt cycles, but haven’t heard is how this more broadly affects community stability. 

    Our members are based in Hoosier cities and towns of all sizes focused exclusively on long-term community prosperity, helping low-income individuals and families attain economic sufficiency, break cycles of poverty, and address blight and foreclosures. 

    They are also organizations left to try and help consumers repair the financial damage left behind when they were inevitably unable to pay back these loans at exorbitant rates. 

    Our members watch payday lenders that are almost exclusively concentrated in low-income communities market their products as easy financial solutions and know that consumers seeking a last-resort hand up are instead likely to end in default or bankruptcy. 

    Our members watch these products drain $70 million in fees from the low-income communities they seek to support. 

    They know that the inability for households stuck in high-interest loan debt to pay expenses like rent, transportation, health care, and food directly correlates to the housing instability and foreclosures, bankruptcies, loss of local spending and accordingly, loss of local job creation they work hard to combat.  

    An expansion of high-cost lending without regard for a consumer’s reasonable ability to repay is not a true alternative; rather it is another dead end.  Even under the amended bill, someone making $12k per year can qualify for $1000 end up paying pay close to $2500 in interest.

    We are grateful for the conversation regarding the financial needs of low-income consumers, but we believe the utility assistance, home repair loans, financial literacy education and payday loan alternatives, such the Community Loan Center program Steve referenced, that are offered by our members are the kinds of programs that truly deserve investment and support.  

    We urge the committee members to instead focus on these solutions. Thank you for your time today.

  • 16 Feb 2017 10:46 AM | Deleted user

    By Suzanne Gunther, NACEDA, and Nina Arce, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey

    A lot great things are happening in New Jersey and we’re eager to share the tremendous accomplishments of NJ’s community development sector on the national stage. Join us for the largest gathering of community development professionals in the country at People & Places 2017. Mark your calendars for May 31-June 2 in Arlington, Virginia (minutes from DC and Reagan National Airport), this peer-learning event will bring together approximately 800 community development placemakers, partners and supporters from across the country. 

    Call for Presenters

    Do you have a passion about the work you do? Have you helped orchestrate a successful state or local policy campaign? Do you want to share your strategies and tactics with community development professionals from around the country? If so, the People & Places 2017 steering committee invites you to propose a session to present at the most diverse and inclusive community development event in the nation. Some travel assistance is available for selected presenters. To submit a proposal for a workshops, panel, roundtable discussion, or TED-style talk, respond to the Call for Presenters by Friday, February 24.

    People & Places 2017 is hosted by five national networks to inspire each other, strengthen our skills, unite our networks, and raise our voices on behalf of the communities we serve. The hosts are:

    • National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations,
    • National Urban League,
    • National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders,
    • National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Developmet
    • Network for Developing Conscious Communities.

  • 13 Feb 2017 9:59 PM | Deleted user

    Today, Prosperity Indiana staff expressed support for SB 485, a measure that, if enacted, would provide for a new home modification loan pilot program to help homeowners in Lake, LaPorte and Porter Counties.  

    The program would allowing the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to make zero interest or low interest loans low- and moderate-income individuals or families that include individuals with disabilities or individuals who have a child with disabilities to improve accessibility.  Below is the testimony Prosperity Indiana's staff provided today in support of the measure.

    FEBRUARY 13, 2017

    Chairman Grooms and members of the committee,

    Thank you for the opportunity to speak this morning. 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 vibrant communities and resilient families.

    Our member network is devoted to expanding economic opportunity and improving the quality of life in communities of all sizes throughout the state. That is why I come before you today in support of SB 485.

    Our members know that while the economy has been improving overall, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers still struggle to meet their basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.

    In fact the Out of Reach Report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition ranks Indiana 38th in the country for housing affordability. That is particularly true for families that include and individual with a disability, as our state has a deficit of safe, affordable and accessible housing. We have numerous member initiatives, including work with the Legacy Foundation in Lake County working to bolster efforts to address community development concerns, including housing affordability so we are encouraged by the introduction of this bill.  We hope to work with Senator Melton to address some administrative concerns we have with regards to the structure of this bill, but believe this is an important measure that should move forward.

    Thank you for your time today.

  • 13 Feb 2017 11:08 AM | Deleted user

    The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) is seeking your input as they develop their 2017-2020 Strategic Plan.

    To do so, IHCDA will be conducting listening sessions around the state. At these sessions they hope to create a collaborative, solutions-focused environment where they accurately identify the best approaches for creating an Indiana with a sustainable quality of life for all Hoosiers in the community of their choice.

    Provided below are dates, times and locations. Please register if you plan to attend.

    NW Regional Session
    February 14, 2017
    9:00 am - 12:00 pm
    Chatham Square Apartments
    3619 Champlain Street
    Lafayette, Ind. 47905
    Click here to register.

    SW Regional Session
    February 15, 2017
    9:00 am - 12:00 pm
    607 Third Avenue
    Jasper, Ind. 47547
    Click here to register.

    SE Regional Session
    March 1, 2017
    9:00 am - 12:00 pm
    New Hope Services
    725 Wall Street
    Jeffersonville, Ind. 47130
    Click here to register.

    Central Regional Session
    March 14, 2017
    9:00 am - 12:00 pm
    RealAmerica Headquarters
    10711 America Way, Suite 200
    Fishers, Ind. 46038
    Click here to register.

    NE Regional Session
    March 15, 2017
    9:00 am - 12:00 pm
    Allen County Library
    900 Library Plaza
    Fort Wayne, Ind. 46802
    Click here to register.

  • 09 Feb 2017 6:30 PM | Deleted user

    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.

    FEBRUARY 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.

  • 09 Feb 2017 10:20 AM | Jessica Love

    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. 

  • 08 Feb 2017 2:59 PM | Deleted user

    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:

    • Universal Design/Build
    • Certified Green Building Professional
    • Comparing Residential Green Building Certifications
    • Abandoned Housing Strategies 201
    • Community Engagement
    • Comprehensive Rural Development
    • Affordable Housing Development for Homeownership

    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.

  • 07 Feb 2017 11:40 AM | Jessica Love

    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.

  • 06 Feb 2017 9:14 AM | Deleted user


    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:

    • Affordable Housing Program: Competitive grants uniting financial institutions and community partners to create affordable homes, whether rental or homeownership projects.
    • Community Investment Program: Their lowest priced funding solutions dedicated to community economic development.
    • Homeownership Initiatives: Three grant programs that address the needs of families throughout the life cycle of homeownership from first time buyer assistance to rehabilitation to accessibility modifications.

    Plus, the workshops provide networking opportunities for FHLBI members to connect with housing developers and community development practitioners to partner and access these programs.


    • Retail Lending Staff
    • CFOs
    • Housing Agencies
    • Commercial Lending Staff
    • CRA Staff
    • Community Lending Professionals
    • AHP Sponsors
    • Community Development Organizations
    • Affordable Housing Developers

    March 1
    Evansville IN
    Holiday Inn Airport

    March 2
    Indianapolis IN
    Marriott North

    March 16
    South Bend IN
    Hilton Garden Inn

  • 03 Feb 2017 12:57 PM | Jessica Love

    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.

    Kelan Fong

    “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.   

Policy News

Prosperity Indiana
1099 N. Meridian Street, Suite 170
Indianapolis, IN 46204 
Phone // 317.222.1221 
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