Adam Rust's blog

IRS Cancels the Debt Indicator: Possibly The End of Refund Anticipation Loans

Count the refund anticipation loan ("the RAL") as something in the past.
Just a few hours ago, the IRS announced that it will not offer the debt indicator for the next tax season.
The debt indicator is an underwriting tool for refund anticipation loans (RALs). The debt indicator tells the banks that make RALs on behalf of a tax prep shop if the tax filer is going to have his or her refund held up. There have been thousands of tax prep shop offering RALS in North Carolina. After today, this is a thing of the past.

More than 470,000 North Carolina households paid for a RAL in 2006 (the last year that data is available.) They spent more than $48 million, by our estimate, to get their refund back a week earlier.

Our most recent analysis of RALs in North Carolina

Conecting the dots: Wake's neighborhood school policy and minority home purchase borrowing

There is this theory that if you don't like your "neighborhood school," that you can just up and move to a place with a nicer school.

Going forward, we are likely to create a series of rich schools and poor schools. So, I wanted to see what happens when low-income borrowers, particularly minority borrowers, try to buy into the more expensive neighborhoods in Wake County.

It seems that it isn't always so easy.

Duke University is in Last Place Among ACC Schools in Census 2010 Participation

Duke might have a new championship, but they are in last place when it comes to showing up for Census 2010. Only one in six households in the neighborhoods surrounding West Campus have replied, as of today, to the Census.

Clemson is number one in the ACC at 88 percent. Get all the stats here.

Affordable Housing Drives Income Segregation in Schools: Where will that leave Wake County

The location of affordable housing is driven by land-use planning. My new BankTalk entry puts the context of the Wake County school board decisions in a national context. A new study shows that more and more schools are increasingly constituted as private-public schools. These schools have very few poor children. Those districts exist even when a larger MSA is well-off. Certainly, Boston and San Francisco harbor plenty of wealth. Drilling down, it is easy to see that these are places without enough affordable housing. Wake County is ready to go to "neighborhood schools." Does that mean that soon, we'll witness a community that allows its schools to filter opportunity based on class and race? In 2000, Wake had 25 census tracts where fewer than 3 percent of its school-age children lived in poverty. Elementary schools often draw from just a handful of tracts.

Things that North Carolina's non-profits should take from the Institute for Emerging Issues Forum

We need to go back to why we have non-profits and align that vision with how we design their structure. This week's conference at IEI talks about how to motivate workers to be creative. The model of benchmarking doesn't work for creative businesses, according to Dan Pink. I would argue that it doesn't serve non-profits very well, either. North Carolina faces some huge challenges in developing its workforce. It is important to ask questions like "what makes a teacher great" or "how can we address Leandro?" Non-profits should be finding innovative responses to problems.

North Carolina Housing Counselors Speak out on Foreclosures and Loan Modifications

Our motivation was simple: we wanted to get the word out to the leaders in DC that loan modifications have been slow. We wanted to let people hear the voices of housing counselors. HAMP is not working! Housing counselors are the foot soldiers in the battle against foreclosures.

CRA-NC took more than 50 North Carolina housing counselors on a bus to the nation's capital in November. We met with two North Carolina Congressman as well as policy leaders from HUD, Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and the OCC.

This post includes a link to a documentary of that day.


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