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An Update from the N.C. Assets Alliance
February 2010
Greetings, Assets Advocate.

The NC Assets Alliance is hosting the following upcoming events. Please join us!

Don't forget, you can also get more involved in the work of the NC Assets Alliance even if you are not able to travel to Raleigh.
Contact NC Assets Alliance subcommittee groups about upcoming meetings.Many committee meetings are held via conference call. If you don't live in Raleigh, you can still participate.

Outreach: Donna Gallagher
Policy and Communications: Alexandra Sirota
Research: Jess Dorrance
For information on leadership roles in the NC Assets Alliance and how you can get involved, please contact Lucy Gorham.
Please email Emila Sutton with updates and information on asset building in practice across the state. We want to hear about your program and share it with other assets advocates.

Thank you for your continued support of the NC Assets Alliance!

North Carolina Assets Alliance

In This Issue
State Asset Policy
Federal Asset Policy
Asset Building in Practice
Research and Publications
Take Action
State Asset Policy
Legislative Study Commission On Poverty Reduction and Economic Recovery Update

On February 2nd, Lucy Gorham and Emila Sutton of the NC Assets Alliance presented information regarding the work of the Alliance and some policy recommendations to the Legislative Study Commission on Poverty Reduction and Economic Recovery. The Alliance reiterated prior recommendations by the Poverty Law Center's Gene Nichol and The NC Justice Center's Bill Rowe:
1. Raise the North Carolina Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 10% of the federal credit. 20% of working North Carolina households benefit from the EITC.
2. Remove the cap on enrollment for the critical Health Choice children's health insurance program.
3. Increase funding for the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund.
4. Establish a "Tax Incidence Analysis" for all tax bills introduced in General Assembly & the overall tax system.

In addition to these points, the NC Assets Alliance made the following recommendations:
5. Provide funds for outreach on the EITC and other benefits as well as free tax preparation and application completion through the NC Benefit Bank
6. Funding for the state Individual Development Account (IDA) Program.
7. Add a "split refund form" to the state tax return form to encourage savings during tax time. This form would allow taxpayers to split their refund and put part into a retirement account, or a savings account - whatever is chosen.
The form would be the state version of the IRS federal form 8888.

For more information on membership and meeting dates, visit the North Carolina General Assembly website.
Federal Asset Policy Update
President Obama's Budget

President Obama released his budget request for FY 2011 on February 1st.  Key investments that will expand economic opportunity to low- and moderate-income Americans include:


  • Expands the Saver's Credit: Provides a 50 percent match on the first $1,000 of retirement savings for families earning less than $65,000 and provides the deposit directly into the account rather than providing it as a tax credit on federal income tax owed. Click here to learn more about supporting Saver's Credit reform.
  • Increases retirement security through the workplace: Proposes requiring employers who do not currently offer a retirement plan to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA account that is compatible to existing direct-deposit payroll systems. Employees may opt-out by signing a written waiver and will retain the right to change their savings levels, reallocate investment portfolios or end contributions to the account.  In addition, the budget doubles the Small Employer Pension Plan Startup Credit from $500 a year to $1,000 per year.
  • Extends the Make Work Pay tax credit: Extends the credit for an additional year.  This credit provides $400 to single tax filers and $800 to joint filers.  Self-employed people are also eligible.  This refundable credit has reached 110 million families.
  • Expands Financial Aid for Students: Supports legislation that has passed the House and is pending in the Senate that would reform student lending, expand Pell Grants and simplify the student aid system. Launches an American Graduation Initiative to support America's community colleges, focus on college completion, and graduate five million more students by 2020.  The budget also strengthens income-based repayment plans for student loans by reducing monthly payments and shortening the repayment period so that borrowers will pay only 10 percent of their discretionary income in loan repayments and can have their remaining debt forgiven after 20 years.

The budget also proposes to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, invest in reforming asset limits in Federal means-tested programs, and take steps to reverse the system of upside-down wealth subsidies by revising the mortgage interest deduction, charitable donations and other itemized deductions.

For more information and analysis of President Obama's budget proposal, including detailed allocation of asset-building funds by department, visit

Asset Building in Practice
CESI Debt Solutions

The Homeownership Center, a division of Consumer Education Services, Inc is a non-profit HUD Certified housing counseling agency dedicated to helping consumers become financially literate, live debt-free lives and make fiscally responsible decisions regarding unsecured and secured debt including but not limited to home mortgages, credit cards etc. Financial and Homeownership Education are vital skills for success in life and yet few adults have ever been offered a basic understanding of how to effectively manage their finances and make wise decisions regarding home financing. CESI believes that educating consumers before they get into financial difficulty is the best way to serve them.
CESI offers a wide range of classes to help clients accomplish the aforementioned goals. All of their classes and workshops are designed to meet the needs of people where they are at - for that reason they will customize most of their outreach to the particular needs of the group they are serving. CESI's current community partners include: Raleigh Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Junior Achievement, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Cooperative Extension, St. Augustine College's Community Development Corporation,  NC Commissioner of Banks, NC Housing Finance Agency and others. Leigh Lester Holmes, CESI Housing Program Manager writes, "CESI recently met with the Raleigh Housing Authority and we plan to be working with them in 2010!"

For more information on CESI Debt Solutions, please contact:
Leigh Lester Holmes
Housing Program Manager
The Homeownership Center
A division of Consumer Education Services, Inc
(919) 861-5331

If you have an Asset Building Program, please let us know!
Email Emila Sutton with details.
Research and Publications
February 21st through the 28th marks the fourth annual America Saves Week. This special campaign is part of the nationwide America Saves campaign which encourages individuals and families to save and build wealth. It is also tax season, a time when many tax filers will see a financial boon that may allow them to set aside funds to save for the future, to save for short-term needs or to start or build an emergency fund.

This month, the research committee is focusing on recent research and reports related to savings. Here are a few highlights...
The Bureau of Economic Analysis at the US Department of Commerce recently released statistics on personal income and outlays.  Personal savings as a percentage of total income was up slightly from 4.5 percent in November to 4.8 percent in December. For more information on these statistics, click here.
In addition to the Saver's Credit, featured in this newsletter in the Federal Policy section, here are two examples of pilot programs that are working to make savings easier and more accessible.

AutoSave is a unique savings plan that automatically diverts a small amount of post-tax wages, via payroll deduction, into a savings account. Unlike most existing workplace saving programs, AutoSave savings are intended to be fully liquid and available both to cover short-term needs and, potentially, to increase attachment to mainstream financial services or serve as building blocks to longer-term asset accumulation. For more information on the AutoSave pilot, click here.
$aveNYC Account: Innovation in Asset Building
This research brief is an evaluation of the first-year results of New York City's $aveNYC Account Program pilot, which found that individuals with low and very low incomes can and will save when given simple and safe banking products.  The UNC Center for Community Capital, an Alliance member, is currently collecting data and analyzing results from the second year of the $aveNYC program. For more information on the $aveNYC pilot, click here.
Two recent research reports also discuss the importance of savings, particularly for low-income families.
The first, a working paper from the New America Foundation titled "Unrestricted Savings: Their Role in Household Economic Security and the Case for Policy Action," discusses the critical role that savings play when it comes to economic security and the paper makes a specific policy case for promoting unrestricted savings. To access the full paper, click here.
Another report from the Pew Charitable Trusts Economic Mobility Project, "A Penny Saved is Mobility Earned: Advancing Economic Mobility Through Savings," uses data to demonstrate the relationship between savings and economic mobility. To access the full report, click here.

Please contact Jess Dorrance for more information on the Research Committee.

To contribute to the N.C. Assets Alliance monthly newsletter or for general information about the N.C. Assets Alliance, contact Emila Sutton.
The North Carolina Assets Alliance is a 40-member state-wide coalition representing public, private and non-profit institutions with the vision to expand opportunity and build a more stable financial future for all North Carolinians. For more information, visit
Join Our Mailing List

Each year, eligible North Carolina workers and their families lose more than $132 million dollars because they fail to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit - the actual figure is probably closer to $250 million.
When coupled with the fact that most EITC dollars are spent locally, this means that the state easily loses another $350 million in local economic stimulus - money that could be boosting the state's economy, especially in its most disadvantaged communities.

To find a FREE Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site near you, please visit the EITC Carolinas Website.

Become a FAN of the NC Assets Alliance on Facebook!

Visit the NC Assets Alliance Facebook page for updates and information on asset building work accross the state and nationally. Join us!

Join the NC Assets Alliance Google Group in Wilmington and/or in Greenville!

Thank you to those who participated in the in the Community Forums in Wilmington and in Greenville, hosted by the North Carolina Assets Alliance and the North Carolina Housing Coalition. We invite you to join the Wilmington and Greenville Google Groups (GG) online.  If you were unable to attend the forums, please feel free to join the group. We have created the online group to connect anyone in the Greenville and Wilmington areas that are interested in the asset building arena.

We will also create Google Groups for each upcoming forum for regional and statewide partners can share their work.

To join, visit the Wilmington and/or Greenville GG sites:

Greenville GG



Quick Links to Members
Action for Children NC
The Arc of NC
Center for Responsible Lending
Community Reinvestment Association of NC
Easter Seals UCP of NC
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Atlanta Region Community Affairs
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond - Charlotte Office
Fiscal Progress
Good Work, Inc.
IDA and Asset Building Collaborative of NC
Latino Community Credit Union
MDC Inc., EITC Carolinas Initiative
NC Bankers' Association
NC Community Development Initiative
NC Council on Developmental Disabilities
NC Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance
NC Department of Labor, Individual Development Account Program
NC Housing Coalition
NC Housing Finance Agency
NC Justice Center
NC Indian Economic Development Initiative
NC Institute of Minority Economic Development
NC Office of the Commissioner of Banks
NC Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities
NC Rural Economic Development Center
NC State University Cooperative Extension
Southern Coalition for Social Justice
UNC Center for Community Capital
UNC School of Social Work
United Way of NC
Wilson County DSS