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2000 Best Practice Symposium

Workshop Session Summary:
Economic Development Track

Building Family Assets


Stephen Yank, Office of Policy, Development and Research, HUD

Room: Jefferson West


Cathy Hinko, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Jefferson County, KY
Marcy Hudson, Coordinator of the Department of Community Services, Ithaca Housing Authority, NY
Inger Giuffrida, Program Manager, Corporation for Enterprise Development, Washington, DC


The Building Family Asset workshop addresses the issue of economic prosperity for low-income families, so that they can prepare for a brighter future. The speakers explain ways in which low-income families can live today while they save for tomorrow. They illustrate their points through the use of programs that have acquired success.

In approximately 250 neighborhoods across the United States, Individual Development Accounts (IDA) are emerging as one of the most promising tools to enable low-income families to save, build assets and enter the financial mainstream. IDAs are matched savings accounts designed to help low-income families who are trying to buy a home, pay for post-secondary education, or start a small business.

"Assets provide a foundation for families to increase their economic security, decrease intergenerational poverty and build strong ties to the community," says Inger Giuffrida, program manager, Corporation for Enterprise Development.

Similar to the Corporation for Enterprise Development, Cathy Hinko, executive director of the Housing Authority of Jefferson County, Kentucky explains how the Common Wealth IDA Program is helping families in Louisville and Jefferson Counties. The Common Wealth IDA Program, a collaborative effort of the Housing Authority of Jefferson County, the Housing Authority of Louisville County and the Center for Women and Families, teaches and supports financial literacy.

The Ithaca Housing Authority uses yet another approach to help families improve their economic statue. The FSS Incentive Program uses the Three Pillar Foundation (3PF) to help low-income families and to encourage economic literacy. The three pillars are education, peer support and a rotating loan fund.

"3PF gave me a more positive attitude. Dreams that other people have can now come true for me too," says a program participant. "I can meet my goal of owning a home."

Marcy Hudson, coordinator of the Department of Community Services for Ithaca Housing Authority explains that one of the challenges for many families is the accumulation of debt. "Long-term debt from student loans, medical bills, utility bills and a lot of credit card debt plus a lack of information on how to handle day-to-day finances keep holding many households back despite their savings in the escrow accounts," says Hudson. "The solution—we incorporated the ideas and the resources of the people in the program.

Since 1997, the program has graduated 121 families. The first class of 3PF for Kids was completed in June 2000 with 11 graduates.

The workshop presentations were followed by a question and answer session.

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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