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News and Policy Updates

Recommendations supporting Stable Families and a Strong Workforce

Recommendations supporting

Stable Families and a Strong Workforce

December 17, 2018

Since 2013, the Connecticut Asset Building Collaborative (CABC) has been the state’s leading organization to connect financial literacy practitioners and thought leaders to promote policies and practices that ensure stability for Connecticut families. The CABC supports Governor-elect Lamont’s proposals to increase the minimum wage and establish paid family and medical leave.  These measures will increase the financial stability of Connecticut families, address growing economic inequality and build a robust workforce that can earn and save towards higher education, home-ownership, retirement and emergency saving funds.  To maximize the impact of these policies changes, they must be bolstered with broad family economic security and workforce development initiatives. Ensuring the vigorous financial health of Connecticut families will enhance the state’s economy with a strong consumer base and reliable workforce for Connecticut businesses and employers.

The following summarizes CABC’s policy and best-practice recommendations to expand opportunities for Connecticut families and enhance the incoming administration’s policy agenda to raise the minimum wage and mandate paid family medical leave:

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March 2019 CABC News

Quarterly newsletter #12 is even later than usual, but there’s a good reason for that. The CT Asset Building Collaborative (CABC) steering committee spent some time revisiting the organization’s work, and came up with this results statement for the organization: “CABC is a cross-sector network committed to promoting financial stability and security for all Connecticut residents.” We will be updating our website in the next few weeks to reflect this new, more focused vision. Also, we put together a white paper for the Lamont transition team. Take a look and tell us what you think. 

We are working on peer learning sessions and would love YOUR thoughts and what topics would be of interest. Please email Joy Duva at [email protected] with your ideas. Also, we’re always interested in feedback from our members and readers of this newsletter about how CABC could be more useful to your work. Don’t hesitate to be in touch. Feedback on the newsletter specifically should be sent to me directly, at [email protected].

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Now, on to news you can use and research that matters!

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From the Washington Post Wonkbook: How stress is harming America's health

Displaying By Ana Swanson

The stresses of poverty in the United States have grown so intense that they are harming the health of lower-income Americans — even prematurely leading to their death.

A report published Monday by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution finds that stress levels have greatly increased for Americans at all income levels since the 1970s, but especially for low-income groups, as the chart below shows.

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Over 300,000 Households Cannot Pay Their Utility Bills

More than 320,000 Connecticut households cannot afford to pay their utility bills. The latest Home Energy Affordability Gap study finds that these households, whose incomes are at or below 200% or less than the Federal Poverty Level, owe, on average, $1,241 more in annual energy bills than they can afford to pay. Programs such as Operation Fuel, which released the report, provide energy assistance to many households, but there is an enormous shortfall between the need and what these organizations can provide.

In order to keep their lights on, appliances functional, and homes warm, people often cut back on basic needs such as nutritious food, health costs and education related expenses. The stress from this "financial juggling" has a severe impact on the physical and mental health of families, which is especially acute for vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. Disconnection rates are sky high as shown in the latest data from UI shows that more than 7,000 ‘hardship’ households (those with financial difficulties), or 2.5% of all households that UI serves, had their electricity disconnected between May and November 2016 (the utilities are not permitted to disconnect such families during the winter months). This is up from 5,621 households during 2015.

When the worst happens and people’s electricity and/or gas are disconnected, or they are unable to keep their oil tanks full, they live in cold and darkness. Sometimes people use their stoves to heat their homes, risking carbon monoxide poisoning, or use candles for light with the attendant fire risk. In efforts to have their utilities turned back on, people may resort to high cost loans, such as ‘payday loans’, officially illegal in Connecticut but readily available online, or other costly forms of credit. Asset building support that helps people to build up an emergency fund, even as small as $500, could prevent some from falling behind on their utility bills, or finding themselves unable to pay a larger than usual bill.