Published annually, the Corporation for Enterprise Development's (CFED) Assets and Opportunity Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look at Americans' ability to save and build wealth, stay out of poverty, and create a more prosperous future. The 2016 Scorecard assessed all fifty states and the District of Columbia on sixty-one outcome measures spanning five issue areas: Financial Assets and Income, Businesses and Jobs, Housing and Homeownership, Health Care, and Education. The research found that state policies are doing little to improve Hoosiers' financial security. Indiana received a "C" in all five outcome categories and ranked 30th overall. Indiana came in at 32nd place in the Financial Assets and Income category. Indeed, forty-three percent of Indiana's households are locked into a "new normal" of perpetual financial insecurity; unable to build the savings needed to last three months in the event of an emergency, and fourteen percent of households' total income is below the poverty threshold.
Statistics like these are just one of the reasons Prosperity Indiana partnered with AmeriCorps, a national service program funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and Serve Indiana.
AmeriCorps is dedicated to creating economic opportunity focused on financial well-being for disadvantaged individuals and families. Community organizations across the country are learning about specific interventions to address the housing, financial literacy, and employment needs of low-income populations.
For more than fifty years, national service has proven to be a catalyst when combined with community-based economic opportunity resources. Our programs boost initiatives that provide financial education, tax preparation services, consumer counseling, connection with community services or benefits, housing construction and repair, and job training and placement programs.
Stay tuned to find out how your organization can utilize AmeriCorps to get things done to build financial security and economic opportunity in your community!
Is your organization looking for opportunities to get things done to fulfill its mission and objectives? If so, then the Indiana Financial Capability Corps (IFCC) is the right fit.
The IFCC is one of hundreds of AmeriCorps programs throughout the nation where more than 75,000 individuals serve their country and strengthen their communities in an effort to make Americans safer, stronger, and healthier. For example, AmeriCorps Members help families obtain affordable housing, mentor students toward on-time graduation, and respond to natural disasters.
Check our blog every day this week to see how your organization can benefit from this exciting opportunity!
My name is Carey Craig, and I’m excited to serve as Prosperity Indiana’s AmeriCorps Program Manager.
While Prosperity Indiana isn’t completely new to accommodating AmeriCorps Members, this is the first time our organization has led a statewide program funded by Serve Indiana and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
The Indiana Financial Capability Corps (IFCC) partners with Prosperity Indiana member organizations like Community Action Agencies, Community Development Corporations, local governments, and others to serve low-to-moderate income families and individuals, and who are interested in integrating financial capability into their existing programs. IFCC AmeriCorps Members assigned to participating host sites develop a strategic design for successful integration using a variety of resources to assist organizations in deciding on the best approach to maximize their impact while educating their clients. AmeriCorps members will provide a variety of necessary resources to help their service organization create community assessments, work flow charts, logic models, and action plans. Ultimately, the member will lead the organization to decide which approach to integration is best for their clients. Prosperity Indiana is still looking for host sites. If your organization is interested, please contact me at email@example.com.
Commonly known as the domestic Peace Corps, AmeriCorps is a national service program governed by the Corporation for National and Community Service (a federal agency) and administered by Serve Indiana (a state agency). AmeriCorps strengthens communities by involving people in service to meet local challenges.
Founded in 1993, AmeriCorps functions as a network of local, state, and national service programs that engages Americans in intensive service to meet our country’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, the environment, and human needs. AmeriCorps members serve with nonprofits, public agencies, and faith-based and community organizations.
Much of my career has been spent in the public and nonprofit spheres and, in particular, the national and community service movement. After a stint in consulting, I’m pleased to be returning to the nonprofit sector to lead the Indiana Financial Capability Corps.
Looking for professional development and training opportunities? See below for a number of training opportunities for Housing Counselors on a wide range of topics, including both on site classes and online webinars.
NeighborWorks Training Institutes offer a selection of more than 100 courses, a one-day symposium on a pressing topic, free after-course workshops on innovative tools and methods, and abundant peer networking opportunities. Upcoming NTI dates include:
NeighborWorks also offers Self-guided Courses which allow you to gain new information and skills whenever it fits into your schedule. Click here to view the extensive list of courses and to register. Inquire with NeighborWorks about scholarship opportunities for both in-person and online trainings.
RCAC Training for Housing Counselors:
Rural Community Assistance Corp. (RCAC) offers high quality training for housing counselors nationwide. Trainings are offered both On Site and as Webinars. Courses include Core Competencies for HUD Certification, Developing Effective Program Manager Skills, and Improving Your Counseling Program Through Financial Capability, among many others. View the Training Calendar for the full list of topics and training opportunities.
NCRC Training Academy:
The National Community Reinvestment Coalition Training Academy offers training and technical assistance both online via webinars and on site courses. Their mission is to provide a comprehensive training program that meets the needs of organizations committed to increasing access to credit in communities. Visit NCRC’s website at https://training.ncrc.org to view upcoming opportunities.
The Counselor’s Corner:
The Counselor’s Corner trainings, membership and all webinars are free. Webinar topics include Alternatives to Foreclosure: The Decision Tree, Sustainability for Nonprofits, Demystifying Student Loan Counseling, and Scam Prevention & Reporting. To see all webinars, go to the TCC master webinar calendar.
TCC also offers a webinar series on Housing Counselor Certification to prepare for the HUD certification exam, and hosts the Impacts & Innovations Housing Professionals Training and Recognition Conference.
Other Training and Events of Interest to Housing Counselors: March 28, 2018 - Webinar: Training for HECM Counselors - This webinar has been designed to cover fair housing topics such as: History of Housing Discrimination, Protected Classes, Prohibited Practices, Exemptions, and Filing a Fair Housing Discrimination Complaint. We will also consider how Fair Housing intersects with HECM counseling. This information will help counselors pass the HUD Housing Counselor Certification exam, as well as provide required Continuing Education for the HECM Roster.
FHA Servicing & Loss Mitigation Training: Webinar series. For additional information, please e-mail:Stacey.firstname.lastname@example.org.
USDA Training: For questions regarding the regulation, training, or UL please contact Tammy Repine of the USDA RD Single Family Housing Direct Loan Division at: (360) 753-7677 or at:email@example.com
Housing Action Illinois: Training for Housing counselors. For more information please contact HAI via email or visit their training calendar.
Hope Now Events: Military Housing Podcast: This Podcast is an entertaining and educational series of conversations focused on military off-base housing.
Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) YouTube Training for Housing Counselors: VHDA has posted training videos for non-profit agencies and consumers. Visit their YouTube channel to view all their current training offerings.
OCC Financial Literacy Update: The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)'s Financial Literacy Update is a bimonthly e-newsletter that reports financial literacy events, initiatives, resources and events and training.
IRS Training: Virtual Tax-Exempt 501(c)(3) Workshops Available for Educational Institutions. This training will help non-profit apply for and maintain their 501(c)(3) status.
National Endowment for Financial Education: Free self-paced online housing course. Learn about calculating housing costs, credit scores, mortgages, shopping for a lender, homeowner’s insurance, researching neighborhoods, foreclosure, housing costs and developing a housing plan.
Duty to Serve Program Information: Recently, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) presented a Duty to Serve Overview Video. Watch an archival version of the video.
FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI): FEMA offers self-paced courses designed for people who have emergency management responsibilities and the general public. All are offered free-of-charge to those who qualify for enrollment.
Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama: Visit FHCNA for registration and more information on these upcoming events:
NDIANAPOLIS – The Prosperity Indiana Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Jessica Love will be the organization’s next Executive Director. She will fill the position currently held by Andy Fraizer, who announced in December he would be leaving to become the Executive Director for the Community Foundation of South Jersey.
“Jessica has demonstrated excellent leadership skills, strong business acumen and strong communication skills during her eight years with Prosperity Indiana,” said Nate Lichti, Board Vice President and Transition Committee Chair. “The Board is very excited about Jessica’s ability to help Prosperity Indiana members impact communities and to carry out strategic initiatives.”
Love, a native of Alabama, has served in the role of Associate Executive Director for Prosperity Indiana since 2013 and was previously the organization’s Senior Program Manager, providing technical assistance primarily around federal grant programs. Immediately prior to joining Prosperity Indiana, Love was the Program Manager for Community & Economic Development with the South Central Alabama Development Commission in Montgomery, Ala.
Love said, “I can look back over my life and see where my future at Prosperity Indiana got its start – volunteering in soup kitchens, rehabbing migrant worker housing, and tutoring at-risk youth while still in high school. Leading a service organization during that time, I learned who I was as a leader – a servant first, seeking to listen with humility, empower others to create change and recognize achievements along the way.”
Before entering the nonprofit sector, Love was the managing editor for The Selma Times-Journal, a daily newspaper in Selma, Ala. She received her BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from Taylor University in Upland, Ind. Love’s combined background in management, fundraising and communications made her an excellent match for this role.
“Jessica has an aptitude to learn, build consensus and work as a team. The organization is blessed with a staff with tremendous capabilities and a passion for the mission, and we’ll be looking to provide additional support in the near-term. We think she’s the perfect leader to build collaborations, empower members and maintain integrity to have impact in Indiana communities,” Lichti said.
Love said she’s learned a great deal from working with Fraizer throughout her tenure at Prosperity Indiana and hopes to capitalize on the momentum that has been created under his direction. Lichti added that Prosperity Indiana is grateful for Fraizer’s 10 years of service and appreciates his thoughtful leadership.
He said, “Andy’s successful tenure led to a huge expansion of services and the implementation of comprehensive community development initiatives across the state. His leadership in Indiana will be missed.”
Board President Steve Hoffman likewise recognizes what Fraizer has meant to the field over the past decade.
“Andy has meant a lot to this organization over his time here. He has meant a lot to other organizations and individuals as well. We will miss him and wish him the best,” Hoffman said. “We are likewise excited to welcome Jessica into the leadership role. We are extremely fortunate to have someone of her knowledge, skills and abilities ready to take on the Executive Director role. Jessica has been an integral part of our success in recent years, and our future success is secure under her leadership as well.”
Leveraging a succession plan that has been in place since 2015, the board and its Search and Transition Committee vetted Love through a rigorous process that included four rounds of interviews and a presentation of her 100-day plan.
Of the board’s selection and process, Fraizer said, “Jessica is the right choice to lead Prosperity Indiana into the future. Her passion for service, management experience and openness to ideas provide a critical skill set for exercising leadership. During her tenure as the Associate Executive Director, she has brought crucial operational grounding to meet the mission and deliver high quality service to members. I am elated with the Board's decision and appreciative of the thorough process they undertook to understand Jessica's capabilities."
Love is working with Fraizer to ensure the transition is as effective and seamless as possible. She assumes her new role on March 2.
Love said, “I’m thrilled by this opportunity to serve Prosperity Indiana’s members and Hoosier communities in a new way. We have a great team and a strong board that are committed to delivering on our mission. With their help, I plan to give everything I’ve got – building on a legacy of great leadership – to improve lives across the state.”
Policy Director Kathleen Lara was asked by the Indianapolis Business Journal, regarding House Bill 1319: Should lawmakers allow payday lenders to expand their offerings?
Her response in the February 23, 2018 edition of the IBJ:
Indiana is ground zero in a push by payday lenders, testing whether states will allow predatory-lending expansion. But a large coalition of faith leaders, veterans and community-development advocates are standing with Hoosier consumers to push back against this effort to offer new loans that will further destabilize divested neighborhoods and devastate low-income borrowers.
House Bill 1319 would allow payday lenders to continue offering small, two-week payday loans of up to $605, carrying annual interest rates of up to 391 percent. It also expands the payday lenders’ exemption from Indiana’s 72 percent loan-sharking cap, allowing for larger, longer-term loans at rates up to 222 percent. This is the third session that payday lenders have sought a new exemption, claiming it will help credit-impaired borrowers weather financial emergencies.
Payday lenders assert that the volume of loans speaks to the need. But their model relies on a cycle of debt—on average, eight to 10 payday loans long, speaking to the predatory nature of the model versus the need. They also argue that failure to pass this bill forces consumers into unregulated online loans. To the contrary, Pew Charitable Trusts found that borrowers in states with strong regulations, like a rate cap, do not head online. Instead, they dramatically reduce their usage of online and storefront payday lenders.
Lenders want to distract legislators from the reality on the ground. Organizations around the state provide food and utility assistance, affordable rental housing and homeownership opportunities, home repair loans, financial counseling, and innovative payday loan alternatives, such as the Community Loan Center program—all to address the root causes of financial instability. But too frequently, consumers seek their assistance only after payday loan debt has exacerbated their financial crises.
The Center for Responsible Lending finds that payday borrowers are more likely to default on credit cards, lose their bank accounts, delay medical care, rely on food-assistance programs and fall behind on housing payments. We have seen payday loans contribute to more bankruptcies and foreclosures in our state. Currently, Indiana has the seventh-highest bankruptcy rate nationwide.
Is it any surprise that 15 states now cap all loans at 36 percent? Bellwether Research polled Hoosier voters on this approach: 88 percent said they support a 36 percent cap. Unfortunately, a bill by Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, to cap rates never got a hearing. Instead, HB 1319 is moving Indiana in the opposite direction.
HB 1319 would allow a minimum-wage worker earning $15,000 a year to qualify for a $1,500, 12-month loan. That borrower would pay $1,598 in fees alone—more than the original loan total. Twenty percent of the borrower’s already-meager income would be diverted from buying essentials to paying exorbitant fees. That is not a lifeline. It is an anchor further drowning Hoosiers in debt.
Simply put, when it comes down to dollars and cents, these payday dollars make absolutely no sense for struggling consumers. We strongly encourage discussion on ways to meet the needs of underserved consumers. HB 1319 is not the answer.
It has been a whirlwind first half of 2018 session of the General Assembly. We have made strong progress on key priorities, but have also critical alerts to share with our members as well that warrant immediate action.
As we laid out at the start of session, Prosperity Indiana pursued an ambitious state policy agenda to advance key priorities to empower our member network.
1) One such goal was to introduce and advance legislation on a topic we have worked hard to address for numerous years- ensuring fair tax treatment for non-profit owned affordable rental housing for low-income families. Senator Eckerty again took the lead in sponsoring legislation, SB 213, that would do just that. Currently, non-profits statewide wholly own properties and use them to provide safe, affordable housing options for low-income renters help meet this critical need and reduce reliance on emergency shelters. Unfortunately, they have no way of knowing from county to county whether or not their clearly charitable purpose will be recognized for property tax exemption due to vague language in state code. SB 213 establishes a narrow, clear definition, preserving these critical housing options for vulnerable Hoosiers.
Update (2/27): We unfortunately have to share that the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee did not give this legislation a vote.
Update (2/22): We are pleased that the Senate Tax and Fiscal Committee held a hearing on this bill and Prosperity Indiana members Mark Lindenlaub with Thrive Alliance and Steven Meyer with King Park Community Development Corporation testified in support of the measure on January 30. The Committee voted to approve the measure 11-1. The bill then was approved by the full Senate on February 6 with a vote of 45-3. Just this week, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the measure as Mark Lindenlaub and Nate Lichti, a Prosperity Indiana Board Member, joined representatives from the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Leading Age, and the Indiana Community Action Association in support of the measure. We are presently working to get the Committee to hold a vote on the measure.
2) Another key issue for 2018 network priorities is cutting down on predatory lending in the state. In that interest, we supported SB 325, a bill to cap payday loans at 36% and cut down on debt traps for low-income consumers. These predatory loans, offered at triple digit interest rates, destabilize Hoosier families and communities because this debt trap can lead to bankruptcy and housing instability.
Update (2/22): Unfortunately, this bill did not receive a hearing, despite 8 Senate co-sponsors of the measure.
Worse still, a bill Prosperity Indiana has worked hard to oppose is still moving forward. HB 1319 would authorize a new, longer-term installment loan product from payday lenders that would carry interest rates rate exceeding 200% APR. These rates are significantly higher than other installment loans already offered in Indiana and would hurt vulnerable consumers, trapping them in a cycle of debt and increasing their dependency on food stamps and delaying on medical care and rent, and increasing their likelihood of bankruptcy.
Specifically, the bill:
• Adds a new three-18 month installment loan product, called an “unsecured consumer loan,” to be offered by payday lenders that conservatively would produce loans at around 200 percent APR, but could reach higher depending on how fees and interest are applied;
• Allows all consumer loans up to $54,600 charge up to a 36 percent interest rate. Currently only loans of $2000 or less can charge 36 percent;
• Exempts the finance charge on installment loans from the current felony criminal loan sharking standard of 72 percent APR to allow these loans to reach triple-digit APRs.
Update (2/27): We are thrilled to share that this payday expansion bill has died as Senator Mark Messmer, Chair of Commerce and Technology, where the bill was assigned, decided not to take up consideration of the measure, citing a lack of support in his caucus. Thank you for your advocacy!
Update (2/22): Despite testimony from coalition of faith leaders, Prosperity Indiana members, and other consumer advocates, the bill passed out the House Financial Institutions Committee on January 24 and passed by a thin margin of 53-41 on January 31. Prosperity Indiana member response to our calls to action along with those of other coalition partners have been VERY effective and Senators are expressing to us that they are very hesitant to support the measure because of constituent feedback, so please keep calling your Senators! The Senate Commerce and Technology is set to hear the bill on Thursday at 9 a.m.
3) In order to combat the scourge of abandoned properties that threaten the safety and stability of Hoosier communities, Prosperity Indiana worked with members and Senator Becker to introduce SB 422, a bill that would empower community redevelopment through acquisition, disposition, and adequate funding for neighborhood revitalization strategies. This legislation is based on national best practices and would help improve processes for land banks and/or redevelopment commissions to help them more effectively acquire properties and fund efforts to combat blight.
Update (2/22): The bill received a hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee on January 17, but was not voted on. Conversations will continue over the summer to try and address fiscal impact concerns in preparation re-introduction for the next session.
Check back here on Friday, March 2 for key updates on other critical bills we are engaged on, such as SB 11, addressing SNAP benefits and HB 1314, addressing educational outcomes for foster and homeless youth, and HB 1278, bill that would make it harder to establish Economic Improvement Districts.
Thank you to the more than 50 members and partners who participated in our Statehouse Day, Prosperity IN Action, on January 23. Participants representing a spectrum of services, interests and communities across the state, spoke to legislators about their individual concerns as well as the network’s 2018 priorities. We were grateful for all the members who joined as they were exceptionally effective in sharing examples of impact each of these priorities has on Hoosier communities and the clients our members serve.
Prosperity Indiana has recently begun working with the City of Rushville and Ginn Farms on two different, and exciting, technical assistance projects. The work on both projects is financially supported by the National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB) using US Department of Housing and Urban Development Rural Technical Assistance grants.
The City of Rushville participated in a creative placemaking workshop in June 2017 hosted by the Indiana Arts Commission and other partners including Prosperity Indiana and member Harrison Center for the Arts. Municipalities that participated in the workshop were eligible to apply for an arts consultancy through the Indiana Arts Commission, and Rushville applied for assistance in developing an Arts Council and an Arts Master Plan to facilitate arts as a community economic development strategy. The community, already a Stellar Community, is ready for such a project and would benefit from technical assistance, but it was a more intense project than the arts consultancy was intended to address. That's where the NALCAB HUD Rural TA program stepped in, funding Prosperity Indiana to work with the city on development of the Arts Council and the Arts Master Plan. The work includes key stakeholder interviews, focus groups, leadership development workshops, a community visioning session, and supporting working groups as they develop SMAART goals and action plans for achieving the vision. It also includes development of resource guides for the Arts Council as it begins work in the community. The project began in January and will continue through August.
Founded in 2015, GinnFarms is a small Agricultural Education Nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation seeking to expand its programs into other rural Indiana counties. The organization’s missions is to protect the honey bee by encouraging new farmers to engage in self-reliant and natural farming practices. With one staff person, 3 board members, 12 volunteers, a variety of supporting partnerships, and recent grant awards from the US Department of Agriculture and the United Way, GinnFarms is in a prime position to receive capacity building services for sustainable growth and effective program impact.
Prosperity Indiana will work with GinnFarms to assess their organizational capacity through the CapMap tool during the first quarter of 2018. The tool will provide GinnFarms with an organizational baseline, identify areas of improvements, and provide strategies for the organization to build its capacity.
Prosperity Indiana will also assist GinnFarms in a strategic planning process that incorporating feedback from interviews with staff board members, and other potential community stakeholders and results in follow-up guidance and support.
After the assessment and strategic planning work, Prosperity Indiana will support Ginn Farms with needed capacity building in the areas of resource development, program development, leadership development, partnership and coalition building, community and stakeholder development, grant management, outcome measurement, and real estate acquisition.
Are you serving a rural area in Indiana? Are there projects where you could use technical assistance to advance your work? You could be eligible for participation in the HUD Rural TA program through NALCAB and Prosperity Indiana. Contact Director of Planning Services Rose Scovel (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Director of Sustainability Allyson Mitchell (email@example.com) for more information.
At Prosperity Indiana, we recognize that the success of our members’ work requires the vision and leadership of policymakers and administrators who understand housing, education, human services, workforce and business development, transportation, and health to advance strategies that address community needs.
Prosperity Indiana has more than 30 years of experience successfully working with policymakers and advocating for strong, innovative policies that support the work of our members. Prosperity Indiana members influence our policy priorities and play an important role in our advocacy work. Prosperity Indiana's advocacy priorities are outlined in our State, Federal, and Administrative Policy Agendas.
Here are some more ways Prosperity Indiana makes it easy for members to engage:
If you have questions or would like to know more about how Prosperity Indiana’s advocacy supports your work, contact Kathleen Lara, Policy Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mapleton Fall Creek Development Corporation (MFCDC) is seeking an AmeriCorps Financial Empowerment member to perform activities that will stabilize and enhance MFCDC’s capacity to deliver financial education services for individuals seeking resident development services including MFCDC and Mapleton Properties rental residents, MFCDC Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) participants and other interested residents living in the Mid-North community.
Qualified applicants will have a high school diploma, have strong communication skills, be dedicated to completing the full six (6) months of service, and have experience interacting with diverse communities and the ability to integrate into an existing community. View the full position description here.
Interested applicants can contact MFCDC's Housing Director Courtney Goodwyn at email@example.com or (317) 800-6609.