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Assessing the Merits of Photo EBT Cards in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Research Brief)
Gregory B. Mills, Christopher Lowenstein

In seeking to reduce the trafficking of benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), states are considering policies to require that SNAP electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards include a photograph of the household head. Such policies have sparked controversy, placing in direct conflict the desires to bolster program integrity with the statutory rights of SNAP household members to utilize their program benefits and receive equal customer treatment. Drawing on Massachusetts’ 2013 implementation of a photo EBT policy, this brief suggests that such policies are not a cost-effective means to promote program integrity and may hinder benefit access.

Posted to Web: March 26, 2015Publication Date: March 26, 2015

Reducing Poverty in the United States: Results of a Microsimulation Analysis of the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute Policy Package (Research Report)
Kye Lippold

A package of five policies—a transitional jobs (TJ) program, a $10.10 minimum wage, expanded earned income tax credits, a tax credit for senior citizens and people with disabilities, and expanded child care subsidies—could cut the national poverty rate by at least half. Using the TRIM3 microsimulation model and the Supplemental Poverty measure, the analysis shows the national poverty rate falling fall from 14.8 percent to either 7.4 percent or 6.3 percent, depending on the take-up rate assumed for the TJ program. Poverty is greatly reduced for all age groups and race/ethnicity groups.

Posted to Web: March 25, 2015Publication Date: March 25, 2015

Evaluation of the 100,000 Homes Campaign (Research Report)
Josh Leopold, Helen Ho

The 100,000 Homes Campaign had a major impact on national efforts to end homelessness, despite its modest size and resources. Community Solutions recruited nearly every major US city to join the Campaign and exceeded its goal of placing 100,000 chronically or vulnerable homeless Americans into permanent housing. Communities that participated in the Campaign reported greater reductions in unsheltered, veterans, and chronic homelessness than non-participants. They also reported that the Campaign brought new energy to their work and helped spur the adoption of Housing First principles. This report describes the campaign, our evaluation methods, and results.

Posted to Web: March 24, 2015Publication Date: March 24, 2015

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative: Thinking Local for State Justice Reinvestment (Research Report)
Elizabeth Davies, Samantha Harvell, Lindsey Cramer

Local governments across the U.S. are striving to improve public safety and optimize criminal justice investments. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) supports these efforts by convening justice system decision-makers to devise data-driven approaches to criminal justice reform that will generate savings that can be reinvested in evidence-based public safety strategies. This policy brief considers the importance of collaboration with local justice partners in the formulation and implementation of state­ level justice reinvestment solutions. It highlights the need to share data to identify and implement cost­ saving solutions, partner to promote successful policy implementation, and invest locally.

Posted to Web: March 24, 2015Publication Date: March 24, 2015

Early Steps Down the Path of GSE Reform (Research Report)
Jim Parrott

In his March 5, 2015 speech, US Treasury official Michael Stegman made a compelling case for how we can finally move on long term reform of the government-sponsored enterprises, and why it’s important to do so. As an invitation and an outline, this speech was more significant than many realized.

Posted to Web: March 23, 2015Publication Date: March 23, 2015

Partner Spotlight: The Data Center and the New Orleans Index (Research Report)
Alexandra Derian

During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, The Data Center developed the New Orleans Index to track storm recovery. Since then, the Index has expanded to cover a wide variety of indicators that chart long-term growth and progress in New Orleans. Indicators include job growth, employment, entrepreneurship, workforce development, incarceration, minority-owned businesses, and poverty. This article describes how the Index was developed and the ways it has been used to frame specific policy discussions about employment inequality in New Orleans.

Posted to Web: March 23, 2015Publication Date: March 23, 2015

A Review of Children's Savings Accounts (Research Report)
Barbara Butrica

Children's savings accounts (CSAs) aim to improve the lives of low- and moderate-income people by increasing their financial security, developing their financial capability, and improving their educational outcomes. With their benefits increasingly recognized, the past two decades have witnessed the adoption of and numerous proposals for CSAs. This brief reviews CSAs and their benefits, provides international and domestic CSA examples, and points to selected research on CSAs—including their distributional impact.

Posted to Web: March 23, 2015Publication Date: March 23, 2015

Integrating Health and Human Services Programs and Reaching Eligible Individuals under the Affordable Care Act (Research Report)
Stan Dorn

Enacted against a background of growing public- and private-sector interest in integrating enrollment, retention, and eligibility determination for health and human services programs, the Affordable Care Act included provisions specifically calling for an expansion of such efforts, using 21st-century information technology (IT) to improve consumer experience and streamline enrollment while lowering administrative costs and protecting program integrity. This report, which summarizes a multi-faceted research project sponsored by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, describes integration efforts to date and explores promising strategies for the future.

Posted to Web: March 19, 2015Publication Date: February 28, 2015

Housing Finance At A Glance: A Monthly Chartbook (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
Laurie Goodman, Ellen Seidman, Jim Parrott, Sheryl Pardo, Jun Zhu, Wei Li, Bing Bai, Karan Kaul, Taz George, Maia Woluchem, Alison Rincon

The March 2015 edition of At A Glance, the Housing Finance Policy Center’s reference guide for mortgage and housing market data, includes updated figures describing the size of the mortgage market, credit availability, and mortgage insurance issued by FHA, VA, and private insurers.

Posted to Web: March 18, 2015Publication Date: March 18, 2015

How Much Do Taxes Affect Startup Investment Incentives? (Commentary)
Donald Marron, Joseph Rosenberg

In a contribution to the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship blog of Kauffman.org. Joseph Rosenberg and Donald Marron examine how tax policy affects investment incentives for startup companies. Startups often make losses, and thus cannot make immediate use of the R&D tax credit, accelerated depreciation, and other tax benefits. The value of those benefits declines the longer startups have to wait to use them. This puts startups and fast-growing young firms at a disadvantage relative to established companies.

Posted to Web: March 18, 2015Publication Date: March 09, 2015

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