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Assets Hawaii

Policy

Federal Legislation

Policy

Prior to the formation of the Ho`owaiwai Network, members of the network worked as a loose group of individuals, groups, organizations and agencies on issues related to asset building. In 2004, a core group of members started to organize and advocate around policies that help families and communities build and save assets. In 2007, the group increased its membership and successfully introduced an asset-building policy package to the Hawaii State Legislature. At the same time, members started to push for asset-building policies at the local and federal levels. Since then, asset-building policies have gained awareness and momentum at the local, state and federal levels in Hawaii.

Legislative Victories.
Over the past several years, Network members have achieved a number of strong legislative successes, including:

  • Grant-In-Aid to establish Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites across the state.
  • A study conducted by the auditor’s office to analyze regulating predatory and payday lending.
  • Funding for Section 8 and Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) homeownership programs to help families transition off rental assistance directly into homeownership.
  • Exempting FSS escrow accounts that help families buy homes from benefit eligibility tests.
  • Establishment of a self sufficiency standard by the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to create and maintain a self sufficiency standard for Hawai`i.
  • Splitting of state tax refunds so taxpayers have the option to split their tax refunds into up to three checking or savings accounts to assist them with saving and building their assets.
  • Establishment of a State Asset Building and Financial Education Task Force that explored asset policy strategies focused on: financial education for public and private sector employees and in K-12 grades in schools; asset limits; and universal children’s savings accounts.

Other initiatives that the network has worked on include: a refundable state earned income tax; eliminating asset limits in Medicaid; expanding IDAs; creating universal children’s savings accounts; establishing microenterprise funding;creating a self-employment assistance program; assisting with down-payment loan assistance; increasing support for family self-sufficiency and section 8 voucher programs; and funding federal earned income tax outreach.

Research & Publications

Asset-Building Policy for Hawai`i
In 2006, the Ho`owaiwai Network helped develop Asset-Building Policy for Hawai`i in partnership with 3Point Consulting, CFED and Asset Building Strategies. This document lays out the six key goal areas of a comprehensive asset-building policy framework for Hawai`i: make work pay, teach asset building, break down barriers to asset building, help people save, help people start businesses, and help people buy homes.

Asset Policy Roadmap: A Strategy For Advancing Financial Security & Opportunity In Hawai`i
In 2008, the Asset Policy Roadmap: A Strategy For Advancing Financial Security & Opportunity In Hawai`i was developed in partnership with CFED. The Asset Policy Roadmap outlines four asset policy priorities that Hawaii could implement. They are: 1) enhancing financial skills of low- and moderate-income families in Hawai`i; 2)removing the disincentives to save resulting from asset limits in public benefits programs; 3) enacting a state Earned Income Tax Credit to help make work pay; and 4) providing state support for matched savings to help people save for a home, business or education.

Policy Recommendations to Hawaii State Legislature, 2010
Members of the Ho`owaiwai Network were involved in the Hawai`i State Asset Building and Financial Education Task Force, which developed policy recommendations for universal children’s savings accounts, elimination of asset limits, and financial education for public and private sector employees and in K-12 grades in schools. A final report of their recommendations was submitted to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2010.

Ho‘owaiwai Hawai‘i Island – Building Genuine Wealth
In 2011, the county of Hawai`i developed Ho‘owaiwai Hawai‘i Island – Building Genuine Wealth, a report that lays out an asset policy roadmap for the island.

Copyright © 2012 Ho'owaiwai NETWORK
c/o Hawaii Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development (HACBED)
677 Ala Moana Blvd, Suite 702, Honolulu, HI 96813

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