Individual development accounts (IDAs) help low-income families save by matching their personal savings for specific investments, such as a first home, business capitalization, or higher education and training. The Assets for Independence (AFI) program is a federally supported IDA grant program authorized under the Assets for Independence Act of 1998. Our evaluation at two sites—Albuquerque and Los Angeles—shows that AFI is

December 8, 2016
Research Report
 

Congress is now considering partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the budget reconciliation process. Since only components of the law with federal budget implications can be changed through reconciliation, this approach would permit elimination of the Medicaid expansion, the federal financial assistance for Marketplace coverage (premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions), and the individual and employer

December 6, 2016
Brief
 

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 requires the IRS to delay tax refunds for taxpayers who claim an earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit on their returns until at least February 15. The delay could help the IRS better check claims for these credits. But this new requirement will delay refunds only for certain low-income tax filers, in particular low-income families with children. Many of these

December 6, 2016
Research Report
 

This report details an effort in New Hampshire to adopt evidence-based policy and practice for pretrial release decisionmaking. Many states have introduced changes to improve pretrial release decisionmaking in recent decades. As the first step toward implementing pretrial reforms in New Hampshire, the current study examines the characteristics of the pretrial defendant population, identifies data gaps and limitations, and

December 6, 2016
Research Report
 

The income tax provisions related to families and work—filing status, rate schedules, the standard deduction, personal exemptions, the child and earned income tax credits, and the taxation of dependents—are complex, too small to encourage work for many low earners, and unfair to some families. We describe and analyze a comprehensive option that addresses these issues while minimizing the number of “losers” and reducing average

December 5, 2016
Research Report
 

This report considers three options for restructuring the home mortgage interest deduction – replacing the deduction with a 15 percent non-refundable interest credit, reducing the ceiling on debt eligible for an interest subsidy to $500,000, and combining the substitution of the credit for the deduction with the reduced limit on the interest subsidy. All three options would raise federal tax revenue and make the tax system more

December 5, 2016
Research Report
 

A widespread stereotype about low-income children is that they have “deadbeat dads.” That is, that their fathers do not live with them and are not involved in bringing them up. In this study, Urban Institute scholars found that fathers who lived with their children tended to spend more time with them: helping them with homework, taking them to the extracurricular activities, offering emotional support, etc. In this study, we

December 5, 2016
Research Report
 

Community colleges offer training for in-demand jobs through programs of study to that take two years or less to complete. Recent federal investments in community colleges support the development of education and training programs that meet adult learners’ needs to gain skills and credentials that employers seek. In this brief, we provide an overview of community colleges and their challenges, highlights of the training

December 4, 2016
Brief
 

In recent years, the importance of stability in promoting children’s heathy development and well-being has emerged as a critical area of concern. However, there remains much we need to learn about instability in the lives of children: why it happens, who it affects and how, and what can be done about it. Based on interviews with leading experts and a quick scan of this field, this brief describes what we know about some of those

December 3, 2016
Research Report
 

Bad framing of fiscal policy contributes to a poor allocation of money collected and spent. Almost all real growth in government goes automatically to health, retirement and tax subsidies, while spending on children, the work force, and infrastructure are scheduled for decline as a share of national income. Reframing budget information to show all changes in spending and taxes occurring over time, in inflation-adjusted terms,

December 1, 2016
Research Report
 

Long-term budget projections do not have to be right to be useful. Even when they are wrong, forecasts give valuable information about the long-term direction of key sectors of the budget, economy, and population. A variety of models now shows important demographic shifts—such as the aging of the US population—that will weigh heavily on the nation’s workforce and social welfare programs. Policymakers would do well to consider

November 30, 2016
Research Report
 

State workforce and economic development interests naturally align. However, state-level collaboration between economic development and workforce development agencies and activities is not well understood. This paper explores opportunities for collaboration between state workforce and economic development, based on a review of the literature and interviews with state and local practitioners. It finds that there are many examples

November 30, 2016
Working Paper
 

Increasing pressures for accountability and outcomes reporting coupled with increasing competition drive nonprofit organizations to implement continuous improvement strategies to meet internal and external needs. Learning is a key factor in the push for continuous quality improvement, and nonprofits need data to make decisions, change their operations, and inform planning and program management activities. Nonprofit

November 29, 2016
Brief
 

Drawing on the experiences of Urban researchers engaged in PFS evaluations, this paper focuses on the unique characteristics and primary responsibilities of the evaluator in designing and implementing PFS evaluations, as well as ways in which the evaluator can leverage their expertise to go beyond these primary roles to work with each PFS stakeholder to strengthen both the project and the evaluation. Urban’s experience has shown

November 29, 2016
Brief
 

Evidence is at the core of the pay for success movement, which pushes government to rigorously evaluate programs and pay only for those that achieve positive outcomes. Evidence, however, is only as good as the evaluation that produces it. As such, evaluators are an integral part of any PFS project, from beginning to end. In these projects, the evaluator implements activities that assess program outcomes in order to determine

November 29, 2016
Research Report
 

The Head Start Designation Renewal System (DRS) is an accountability system to determine whether Head Start grantees are delivering high quality, comprehensive services and to implement a competitive grant making process in communities where they are not. This formative evaluation suggests that the DRS is meeting its goal of supporting quality improvement in by incentivizing grantees and applicants to engage in a range of

November 27, 2016
Research Report
 

The state of Florida is experiencing significant and costly prison overcrowding that is largely the result of policy decisions made over the past few decades. This briefing overviews the current criminal justice landscape and describes major trends that impact the Florida prison population. We then discuss the growing national trend of broad and bipartisan state criminal justice policy reform, detailing several key successes. By

November 22, 2016
Brief
 

The November 2016 edition of At A Glance, the Housing Finance Policy Center’s reference guide for mortgage and housing market data, includes updated figures describing first-time homebuyer share, mortgage delinquency rates, the composition of the mortgage insurance market and a special quarterly feature on GSE loan composition, repurchase rates, defaults, and loss severity.

November 21, 2016
Research Report
 

More than 1 million post-9/11 veteran families live in the United States, accounting for more than 1 million veterans, 1 million spouses, and 2.1 million children. Another 1.9 million veterans are expected to exit the military over the next decade. To better facilitate the transition of veterans and their families to civilian life, we must understand the strengths they possess and the unique challenges they face. With this

November 18, 2016
Research Report
 

Many have complained that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) places overly tight restrictions on the conditions under which condominium units are eligible for FHA loans, making it difficult for homebuyers to obtain financing for these units. This paper examines the data to determine if FHA can afford to be more flexible in insuring condominiums without increasing risk to the insurance fund. We show condos have lower

November 17, 2016
Brief
 

Millions of working parents qualify for food, medical, and child care assistance that can help them support their families. However, accessing these supports can be difficult or confusing. Six states participated in the Work Support Strategies initiative to help modernize and streamline state benefit delivery systems so low-income families can get and keep the full package of work supports for which they are eligible. This final

November 16, 2016
Research Report
 

How do children, adolescents, and young adults get on track to have successful lives and how can policies help them get there? The Social Genome Project (SGP) asks these questions using a tool called the Social Genome Model: a data-rich model stretching from birth to middle age that allows analysts to examine how circumstances and actions at developmentally significant life stages reverberate through a person’s life. The model

November 11, 2016
Research Report
 

Globally, policymakers and the public are searching for solutions to help ensure money meant for public service delivery goes to fund effective programs. One such solution, results-based financing (RBF), leverages existing or new financial resources to incentivize results by paying for desired outcomes or outputs. RBF approaches are diverse and have emerged in different contexts and with different partners. Generally, however,

November 10, 2016
Brief
 

In July 2015, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) alleged that some state housing financing agencies' (HFAs') down payment assistance programs are violating FHA requirements and putting the FHA mortgage insurance fund at unnecessary risk. In this brief, we review the publicly available data to assess their concerns. We find that the number of loans for which a

November 9, 2016
Brief