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Building Assets, Promoting Choice and Community Participation Lucy Gorham Senior Program Director MDC, Inc. Chapel Hill, NC NCTC Conference Chicago June 2011
MDC helps organizations and communities close the gaps that separate people from opportunity. Our organizing principle: Education + Work + Assets = Pathway to Opportunity P. O. Box 17268. Chapel Hill, NC 27516 -7268. 919. 968. 4531 www. mdcinc. org
MDC’s Assets Work: Helping the South Progress l EITC Carolinas -- (Earned Income Tax Credit) – Connects individuals and families to tax credits and opportunities to build assets l The Benefit Bank of North Carolina - TBB-NC Expands the work of EITC Carolinas by connecting workers and families to an expanded array of supports; and l The North Carolina Assets Alliance: addresses the need for policy and program change to help workers and families build assets M
Including Disability in Our Work Four years ago, the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities funded the NC Assets Alliance to do a three year project to expand opportunities for people with disabilities to build assets.
Project Created New Partnerships l NC Council on Developmental Disabilities l National Disability Institute in Washington, DC (Michael Morris, Johnette Hartnett, Michael Roush) l EITC Carolinas Initiative at MDC, Inc. l The NC IDA and Asset Building Collaborative l The NC Assets Alliance l Local partner organizations in Charlotte, Winston -Salem, Wilmington, and Greensboro
Project Partners l National Disability Institute – connects persons with disabilities with opportunities to build assets as a strategy to improve their independence and self-determination l IDA and Asset Building Collaborative – helps low- and moderate-income North Carolinians build wealth and improve their financial well-being;
NC Assets Alliance l Initially launched by the IDA Collaborative and MDC, includes over forty organizations and agencies that support improvements in the state’s policies that support asset-building. l Includes the NCCDD, the Arc of NC, Easter Seals/UCP, and the Alliance of Self -Advocates
Challenge # 1: For Too Many People, Having a Disability Leads to Poverty l One in four individuals with a disability in North Carolina are living at or below the poverty level; l This compares to one in ten people without disabilities.
Challenge # 2: Lack of financial Information Ø Too few financial coaching resources directed at those with a disability Ø Too few persons with a disability receive appropriate financial information; Ø Policy barriers to building assets discourages those with disabilities from taking charge of their financial lives
Challenge # 3: Most people with disabilities aren’t building assets The tools and strategies that have been developed over the past 15 years to help people of low income save and grow assets are not generally being used by people with disabilities.
Challenge # 3: Most people with disabilities aren’t building assets l Most individuals with disabilities have no checking or savings account. l Less than 10% of people with disabilities own their own homes compared with 70% of Americans without a disability l 83 percent of those with a disability surveyed never claimed available tax credits or deductions related to work.
Why are assets important to those with a disability? l Affordable and accessible housing increases freedom and independence; l Getting more education and training can lead to a better job and a new community of friends; l A better job can increase financial independence; l Having a job and money in the bank gives people more choices, more control over their lives, keeps people out of poverty;
Social Security and Medicaid are Essential BUT l They may also keep recipients in poverty by: Limiting the assets they can own; l Limiting the amount of money they can earn from work l l Poverty and a lack of assets limits people’s choices, independence, and selfdetermination;
What is needed l Disability policy and programs must be changed to lift people out of poverty by encouraging work, savings, and building assets; l People with disabilities should be able to own a home and build savings AND still have access to supports like Social Security and Medicaid;
Response to challenges Connect more people with disabilities to asset building opportunities: Ø Statewide Summits on Assets for Persons with Disabilities Ø Ongoing Advocacy/Alliance for Full Participation Ø Asset Building Toolkit Ø Regional Assets Coalitions
Assets Summits Convened an assets summit for the disability community in both 2007 and 2009 as part of the NC Conference on Financial Education and Asset Building. l l l The disability community learned about asset building opportunities and suggested ways they could be improved; Asset building groups learned more about the needs of those with disabilities; Both groups developed joint strategies and new partnerships.
Policy Change l The NC Assets Alliance has developed a set of well-researched policy proposals tailored to the needs of those with disabilities with the technical assistance of NDI and disability organizations; l Over fifty member organizations of the Task Force are learning about how assets policy relates to disability issues; l Disability advocates are active members of the Task Force.
Two policy examples
Housing Policy l For individuals with disabilities, housing accessibility may often be a challenge equal to affordability. l Following the lead of the Kentucky Housing Finance Corporation, the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency will modify requirements for all publicly financed multi-family housing to adopt universal design standards for improved accessibility.
IDAs Expand the current system of Individual Development Account (IDA) programs throughout the state by a) increased funding; and b) expanding allowable uses of IDA funds. l Expand the allowable use for IDA funds to include purchase of a vehicle and/or technology as well as home modifications. l Expand marketing and outreach to the disability community to increase their awareness and use of an IDA and strengthen supports for them in meeting their asset goals once in the program. l Make all IDAs exempt from asset limits, not just those funded by AFI
Advocacy Training and Education § Project partners speak at state and national events and conferences and to the NC General Assembly about the importance of the work in North Carolina; § The NC Council on Developmental Disabilities has identified asset building as one of its ongoing priorities.
REITour: NC Council Member Jonathan Ellis Speaks to the Press with Michael Morris of NDI
Assets Tool Kit Designed and distributed an Asset Building Toolkit for persons with developmental disabilities developed by the National Disability Institute that has been tested in the disability community;
What the Toolkit Covers l Setting your own financial goals – what are your dreams? l Managing your money and banking l The Earned Income Tax Credit l Individual Development Accounts l Home and Business Ownership l Social Security Work Incentive Programs
An applied curriculum l Between classes, participants are asked to do homework to put the information into practice: Go to a financial institution and find out about checking and savings accounts; l Find out if there is a VITA or Benefit Bank site near them; l Report back on their experiences; and l Develop their own financial goals. l
Links to the local community The program also brings in speakers each week to talk about progams they can access in the community: Free tax preparation; l IDA programs; l Ticket to Work and other employment opportunities; l Credit counseling, etc. l
Piloted across the state Pilot tested by: l The Arc of Mecklenburg County and Residential Support Services in Charlotte; l The Adaptables and the Enrichment Center in Winston-Salem; and l The Cape Fear Asset Building Coalition (Easter Seals/UCP and the Arc of Wilmington); l UNC Greensboro Beyond Academics program
Cape Fear Asset Building Coalition • Began meeting monthly starting November 2008 • Led by Easter Seals/UCP and The Arc in Wilmington, NC • Technical Assistance from all of project partners
Piloting Assets Tools Held 6 Toolkit module trainings from January 2009 – May 2009 • Graduated 10 persons with disabilities from the trainings • Families and support people felt they learned as much as the participants • Feeling of financial empowerment by those participating •
Cape Fear ABC Training Graduation
Certificate of Completion
Results of Toolkit Pilot Groups want to use it again with a second group of participants, families, and support personnel; Families and support personnel said they felt the information was also valuable to them; The Cape Fear AB group and The Arc have now started their own VITA program combined with The Benefit Bank of North Carolina (TBB-NC); Statewide, The Arc is now adopting AB and benefits outreach initiatives.
More on Cape Fear ABC • Coalition also developed an IDA Subcommittee that meets monthly. • IDA subcommittee’s goal is to have an IDA program available to persons with disabilities and others who want to start a small business. • One challenge is that the IDA program is set up to be geographically based – they would like to see a statewide program that anyone could join regardless of their location.
Expanded Focus on Youth in Transition Beyond Academics program at University of North Carolina, Greensboro Campus Students with developmental disabilities attend classes at UNCG and live with other student mentors in an apartment setting Preparing for internships/jobs while at school and work after graduation
Giving Youth the Tools They Need The Toolkit was a perfect complement to the combination of independent living and work that was the goal of the program; l Student mentors and staff also found the information to be really valuable which helped to reinforce the importance of the content; l Now Beyond Academics is using it as part of their ongoing program and incorporating NDI’s BEST approach. l
Next Steps ØWe would like the Toolkit to be used in the public school system (high school) as well as in the compensatory education programs at community colleges and university programs like Beyond Academics; ØWorking with the national Alliance for Full Participation to incorporate AB and financial coaching into its policy and program focus; ØPromoting the ABLE Act to reduce impact of asset limits
l Working with disability groups across the state to either become VITA and/or Benefit Bank sites or to expand their outreach to those with disabilities; l Developing financial coaching models for use in a variety of settings l Working to include SSI and SSDI as part of The Benefit Bank to reduce the cycle of homelessness/hospitalization/incarceration sometimes faced by those with persistent mental health disabilities, including veterans
Information and Outreach Resources: l EITC Carolinas: http: //www. eitc-carolinas. org l N. C. Assets Alliance: www. ncassets. org l The Benefit Bank: www. tbb. org l National Disability Institute: www. ndi. org l World Disability Institute: www. wdi. org l N. C. IDA and Asset Building Collaborative: www. ncidacollaborative. org
Thank you! Lucy Gorham Senior Program Director MDC, Inc. 400 Silver Cedar Court, Suite 300 Chapel Hill, NC (919) 968 -4531 x 348 [email protected] org