“Dangerous, ineffective, unnecessary, obsolete, wasteful, and inadequate,” is how the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2011 report, No Place for Kids, describes the negative results of locking up youth. Once kids end up in jail, social workers do what they can to help them get out and start over on the right foot, but a better plan starts with keeping kids out of the slammer in the first place.
The Ford Foundation has been working to close the racial wealth gap for over two decades, a gap much in the news these days, and one part of that effort has been to help “unbanked” low-income people escape from the shady world of payday lending and worse, and access the financial services that middle-class people take for granted. To that end, Ford recently gave $1 million dollars to the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) to continue its work on building financial tools for the underserved.
Think of the Gates Foundation and housing is probably not an issue that comes to mind. But the foundation has actually spent millions to reduce homelessness and boost affordable housing options for low-income people, with nearly all this money going to support work in Washington State.
If, ten years ago, someone told you that a Bangladeshi bank would be coming to the U.S. to specialize in giving loans to women below the poverty line, would you have believed them? Probably not. But that’s what is happening as Grameen America, the U.S. version of Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank, expands its operatons. Most notably, it’s rolling out 13 new branches in LA County.
The Canadian lender TD Bank was one of the good guys during the housing boom. It didn’t gorge itself on subprime loans and end up in the crosshairs of government investigators. The bank prides itself on being a responsible company, and puts out an impressive corporate responsibility report discussing its work. Among other things, its philanthropic arm, the TD Charitable Foundation, funds in the housing sector, giving away $2.5 million a year in a competitive grant award program called “Housing for Everyone.”
If you are a nonprofit that focuses on housing, should you apply for CDFI money? It’s probably a good idea to look into it. Funding from CDFIs has increased since 2008, and appears to be a growing trend.
How do you kill the American dream? One way is to finance people in over their heads, in essence creating debtors out of hard-working people who, in a more sane economy, would be accruing assets. It appears we are ready to go down the path of deregulation again all too quickly. From the New York Times:
“Financial deregulation is similar to relaxing rules on nuclear power plants,” argue Anton Korinek of Johns Hopkins University and Jonathan Kreamer of the University of Maryland in a related working paper for the Bank for International Settlements. It makes it easier and more profitable for the utilities, their shareholders and executives. It might also help ordinary Americans get cheaper electricity. “However, it comes at a heightened risk of nuclear meltdowns that impose massive negative externalities on the rest of society.”
Read more at More Renters, Less Risk for Wall St. – NYTimes.com.
And, for a first-hand account of what it feels like to be ripped off by an unscrupulous bank: http://www.rifuture.org/the-mortgage-debt-crisis-murders-the-american-dream.html