Thursday, August 25, 2005

Why is it so expensive to be poor?

It's a question asked in this UK article, The Price of Poverty.

From the article:

Real progress has been made in addressing these high concentrations of deprivation, inactivity and poverty. But on the ground, deprived urban areas have tended to remain deprived. People often move out when they move up. Meanwhile, too many of the poor have stayed poor. And to make matters worse, being poor is expensive - they pay more, and get less.In the US, the Brookings Institution has just published a report on working families in Philadelphia. It shows that the poor pay more for everyday goods and services - more than better-off families pay for exactly the same products. The same thing is happening here. What should the government do about this? There are three broad entry points - policies that focus on places, products and people.

The article offers this credit example ...
With mainstream credit unavailable or inappropriate, over 2 million people took out a home credit loan in the last 12 months, with average APR rates of 177 per cent. Other financial services can also be lacking: around half of our poorest households do not have any form of home contents insurance.

Credit unions have a role to play, as do Community Development Finance Institutions. That is why the government is proposing to extend tax relief to the personal lending activities of CDFIs. But CDFIs do not yet have the capacity or volumes to trigger a step-change. A more wide-reaching solution could be to explore a British version of a Community Reinvestment Act, an American law that effectively mandates banks to provide services to low-income communities. Introduced in 1977, and revamped under Bill Clinton, the CRA is loved and loathed in equal measure. Although its impact on financial exclusion is not clear-cut, it does seem to have brought banks into areas they would otherwise not have entered - and once they are there, they soon realise they can make a profit.

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Peer to Peer Public Transit

Have long appreciated Portland's free community bike programme, the now demised, Yellow Bike.

So, with great interest, I read this Wired article on the bike sharing programme launched in Lyon, Vélo'v.

From the Wired article:
The rent-a-bike scheme, called Vélo'v Grand Lyon, is open to anyone armed with a credit card. It costs 1 euro ($1.20) an hour, but there is no charge for the first 30 minutes. Since 90 percent of trips take less than half an hour, most subscribers pay nothing.

In just three months, the program has signed up 15,000 subscribers who take 4,000 trips a day and travel over 24,800 miles a week on 2,000 public bikes at 150 bike stations.

It does seem like a simple and practical solution for dealing with short jaunts. Now if only Jorg & Olif would pick up on this idea.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

2006 National Conference on CED and the Social Economy - Call for proposals

The 2006 National Conference on Community Economic Development and the Social Economy that will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, March 15-18, 2006, is being organized by the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet), The British Columbia Community Economic Development Network (BCCEDNet), the Community Economic Development Technical Assistance Program (CEDTAP) and hosted by Fast Track to Employment.

The conference title is "Rooting Development in Community" and the event will offer keynote speakers, site visits, workshops, plenary sessions, networking and social events to the 600 participants that are expected.

This year, conference organizers are inviting proposals specifically for five conference streams, as well as other topics of interest. The five streams are: Community Sustainability, Community-Based Enterprises, CED and Youth, Aboriginal CED, and Building Bridges Across Sectors.

Sessions must be one of four formats: introductory level sessions, cracker barrel presentations, successful & innovative experiences, and in-depth analysis. Workshops are 2.5 hours in length, allowing time for presentations, discussion and active learning by participants.

Submitted responses will be used to design the final program, which will be published when registration gets underway in December 2005.

For the full text of the call for proposals and to easily submit a proposal via an on-line form, visit CCEDNet's website.

The deadline for submitting proposals is September 15th.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Finding a Way

In Policy Options, Nancy Neamtam, CEO of the Chantier de l'economie sociale, has written a piece on the emergence of entrepreneurs with a social mandate. The item is a good overview and highlights some policy considerations to address the influence of emerging social entrepreneurs.

Neamtam makes the point ...
As community activists, environmental groups, women's organizations and anti-poverty groups chose the path of economic development to try to respond to social and environmental needs, social entrepreneurship was the logical next step.

Neamtam highlights some key differences between the Chantier and the Community Economic Development model.

The link to the article is here.

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