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