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a Human Touch
The Perfect Balance
“It’s just been an incredible conference. The women who have been here and all of you who I’ve met with have been the highlight of my year so far, really."
CEO and President, National Foundation for Credit
Counseling, NDILC Co-Chairwoman
Jasmine Willois, Founder of Note Assistance Program for our sheCall on Mortgage Notes, The New Investing Frontier.
Over thirty billion dollars a year is estimated to be lost annually due to elder financial abuse, fraud or scams. Elder fraud is a growing problem, leaving destroyed relationships and economic destruction in its wake. This number is likely higher as according to the National Adult Protective Services Association, only one in about forty-four cases is reported.
Words like “elder” or “elderly” conjure up images of a frail and delicate senior citizen benignly rocking away on the front porch. While it is true that seniors who are most physically vulnerable and who may have cognitive issues are mainly at risk, financial abuse can happen even to people on the younger side of senior: those who are successful, financially savvy and socially connected.
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When people are looking to start or move a business to Irvine, it always starts with answering the question: Why Irvine? Everyone knows that there are certainly less expensive places to start or locate a business – any city in North Dakota or Alabama for starters – but there isn’t a smarter or better place to start or locate a business than Irvine, California. And that all began with the stunningly forward thinking vision that transformed 93,000 acres into an economic powerhouse and one of the most livable cities in the United States.
Everyone knows the story of the Irvine Company. The family who owned 93,000 acres in what is now Orange County, and the company directors that followed, took a long view of this land and its place in the evolution of the area. They adopted a powerful proposition that the land, and all those who would live and work on it, would be best served by a Master Plan that fostered the highest quality of life through preservation of “nonrenewable” assets and resources.
An encroaching sprawl south from Los Angeles compelled the Irvine Company to take stewardship of the land in the 1960s in ways that would shape the City of Irvine and other communities in the area into the 21st century. They conceived of artfully designed neighborhoods and villages, acres of open space and livable neighborhood centers and regional centers that would support an economic powerhouse of Fortune 500 companies and robust, cutting edge industry clusters in the Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology and Digital Arts & Media, just to name the top performers.
The notion that a balance of “working, living, learning and recreational environments-all integrated in a logical and aesthetic fashion” was the core value that defined the design, its implementation and its sustainability. And it stood in stark contrast to how other communities and cities in the U.S. had evolved throughout the decades characterized by cycles, changing economic drivers and personalities, demographic patterns and investment, or lack thereof.
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The unique challenges women have faced in the past and continue to face today make owning a home a tangible sign of success for a woman. A woman’s home is a space to creatively express desires and dreams and to evoke certain feelings. From a practical standpoint, it’s an investment and source of security that remains a constant regardless of her marital status.
The NAWRB 2018 Women in the Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER) reveals some of the factors and trends that have contributed to an increase in women pursuing homeownership on their own. Single women and mothers are attracted to homeownership as a source of stability, a means of wealth-building, a safe place to raise their children and a sanctuary to call their own. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single women have outpaced single men in homeownership for the last thirty years.
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Palm trees gently sway as the trade winds scatters the scent of flowers throughout the neighborhood. When I close my eyes this is how I see the little piece of paradise I own in the eponymous Waikiki Beach neighborhood in Hawaii. It bothers me to no end that nobody else wants to own my little piece of paradise that I am trying to sell for the paltry sum of 20 Bitcoin.
What is a Bitcoin you may ask? And what is it worth? The first question is challenging to answer because it is technical, but essentially Bitcoin is a digital currency that is secured by a cryptographic key. This is why Bitcoin and similar tokens are collectively known as cryptocurrencies.
The other half of the power of Bitcoin is that it is decentralized, meaning there is no single place the transactions are approved and recorded; instead, this information is spread across the world inside every Bitcoin. The second question is simpler because it is a number, but challenging because this amount changes frequently. The current exchange rate to the U.S. dollar is $6339 to one dollar, but tomorrow it could just as easily be $5,500 or $7,000.
Why did I think selling my house with Bitcoin would be easy? Because it was touted to be this way. Sell your house for Bitcoin, there are endless buyers from Asia lining up to purchase and send Bitcoin directly to your wallet. It just isn’t that simple, as the ecosystem to make these transactions barely exists.
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Former IBM Fellow, Master Inventor, VP, CTO Cognitive Services, IBM Services, Member of IBM Industry Academy & Academy of Technology
Dr. Chitra Dorai
Dr. Chitra Dorai, a Former IBM Fellow and expert in AI and Cognitive Sciences, takes NAWRB along the journey of her life. A precocious child in Chennai, India, who dreamed of becoming a brain scientist, she traveled to the United States to realize her aspirations, ultimately earning IBM’s highest honor and helping thousands of homeowners during the financial crisis. From her obsession with popular culture trivia to her experience being a mother, this influential woman is taking on the computer.
NAWRB: Where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like?
Dr. Chitra Dorai: I grew up in a sunny South Indian city called Chennai, previously known as Madras, located on the south eastern coast of India. Chennai is one of the largest cosmopolitan cities in India and is well known as an economic, cultural, and educational hub in South India. In fact, it is often called the “Detroit” of India because many of the automobile manufacturers have their Indian operations there. It is also technology-centric. A lot of multinational companies, including IBM, have their IT service delivery centers in Chennai. At the same time, it is a city of contrasts. It continues to be traditional and conventional in certain ways, culturally-rich and conservative, compared to other major cities in India. It is famous for its soaring temples, luxurious silk, and centuries-old musical traditions.
Capital is pivotal for the success of any entrepreneur to launch a sustainable and lucrative business. Traditional routes of access to capital are changing as technological development creates new avenues, and the distance between entrepreneur and investor decreases due to an increase in fast and efficient communication.
Women entrepreneurs have notoriously faced hardships in gaining access to capital, from lack of information and resources and local and state government assistance, to facing cultural biases from investors. A 2014 report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship states women business owners received 16 percent of small business loans and 17 percent of loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
You don’t have to live in homes like the hobbits did in The Lord of The Rings to be among nature’s finest gifts. While making sure we are building enough homes to meet the demand of the rising population is important, we also need to consider the effects of construction and our daily lives on the environment. More environmentally-friendly homes are being built with sustainable resources, and there has been an increased focus on adapting our buildings to the land instead of forcing it to adapt to us.
Earlier this year, NAWRB had the opportunity to write a request for comment (RFC) to the United States Forest Service’s proposal to revise its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures to better facilitate its goals of protecting the health and sustainable use of our national forests and increasing efficient environmental analysis. NEPA plays a key role in this by outlining the process by which the agency conducts its analysis and makes crucial decisions regarding the National Forest System lands.
In December 2017 Congress passed the heavily-debated GOP tax bill, with highlighted features such as a $1.5 trillion tax cut, lowered tax rates for individuals and corporations, a cap on mortgage interest deduction at $750,000, and a doubling of the standard deduction and child tax credit. The effects of these changes might make an impact on affordable housing in high-tax states as Americans adapt to decreasing home prices, new caps on mortgage and tax deductions and limits on HELOC deductibility.
While the new tax bill has stirred concern over housing affordability in states with high taxes, especially those located in the Northeast, West Coast and South Florida, attention has now been focused on an aspect of the bill that could help rather than hinder distressed, low-income communities. According to the 2017 Distressed Communities Index by the Economic Innovation Group, one in six Americans, approximately 17 percent of the population, live in economically distressed communities, and the average state has 15.2 percent of its population living in these struggling areas.