Today, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) released their annual Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, which grades each of the fifty states on how well they are doing to create opportunity for their residents. Oregon received a “B” for its work, and this Scorecard reminds us that there is clearly more we can do to help create pathways to opportunity for our residents.
Today, too many Oregonians are forced to make choices between paying rent and putting food on the table. Nearly one in four residents is considered asset poor, meaning they don’t have enough savings or assets to survive a loss of income for three months.
Oregon can do better. There are specific and effective strategies to create opportunity for all of our residents. We have the tools to create a better future, and to open doors for all Oregonians. We can harness our innovative spirit, our talent, and our energy. We can invest in people and create a better future for the next generation. We can ensure that every person, every family, every community in Oregon can prosper.
Two things the State Legislature can and should do in 2013 to create pathways to opportunity for all Oregonians are:
(1) To help low-wage workers afford food and other necessities, the Legislature should extend the Oregon state Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, which is set to expire at the end of 2013, and increase the value of the credit to 18% of the federal credit.
(2) To avoid discouraging saving for retirement, Oregon should allow modest retirement savings for applicants to the Oregon IDA Initiative.
Oregon also received a “D” as it relates to Homeownership. Homeownership is a key way families build assets and provide stability over time. We have a low rate of homeownership, as well as unaffordable homes and high housing cost burden for both renters and homeowners, meaning residents spend too much of their income towards housing.
We can do better though, and we can protect and promote opportunity through affordable housing and homeownership. To increase homeownership rates, lower the housing cost burden and prevent foreclosures, Oregon should continue to invest in its IDA programs and other proven strategies to support first-time homebuyers. The Legislature should also act to strengthen foreclosure protection and prevention laws ensuring pre-foreclosure mediation by a neutral third party.