Trust Article

Change for the Good

March 3, 2022 Read time:

In this Issue:

  • Winter 2022
  • Change for the Good
  • Superbugs: A Global Health Threat
  • Exploring Religion and Identity Politics in India
  • Change During Challenging Years
  • Cycles of My Being
  • Noteworthy
  • U.S. Household Growth Declined Over the Last Decade
  • Coastal States Seek to Limit Sea Wall Construction
  • What Does Driving Have to Do With Debt Collection?
  • Tools Can Boost Access to Online Legal Information
  • Return On Investment
  • Citizens Want Changes to Their Political Systems
  • View All Other Issues
Change for the Good
From new protections for small-dollar loan borrowers to conservation successes from the Carolinas to Australia, Pew worked in 2021 to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life.

Investment in America

From enhancing retirement savings programs to expanding internet access for thousands of Americans, Pew helped federal, state, and local decision-makers make a difference for people across the country in 2021.
Al Seib Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Broadband

As millions of people worked, attended school, and applied for jobs and government assistance online last year, a Pew Research Center survey found that 90% of Americans considered the internet essential or important to them and that 40% said they used the internet or digital technology in ways they had not before the pandemic. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, approved In November, will invest $65 billion to expand access to high-speed internet—empowering state and local governments for the first time to address broadband expansion. The new law ensures help for state and local officials who are closest to the problem in collecting data and creating partnerships that can expand access—reflecting years of research from Pew’s broadband access initiative and others showing that funding alone can’t bridge the digital divide.

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Empty Road By Field Against Sky
Empty Road By Field Against Sky

Key Evidence-based Provisions in the Infrastructure Bill

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The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law on DATETK, 2021, makes historic investments in evidence-based policy solutions to some of the nation’s most pressing policy challenges.

Fiber installation crew
Fiber installation crew
Article

Using Pandemic Relief Funds to Boost Broadband Access

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Article

As states start to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), enacted in March, many policymakers are using some of the new resources to fund broadband expansion, by increasing funding for existing programs or establishing new ones.

Woman working from home while holding toddler
Woman working from home while holding toddler
Opinion

Broadband and the States

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Opinion

The recently signed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill sets aside $65 billion to expand broadband access and equity across the nation, a once-in-a-generation investment that acknowledges how critical high-speed Internet is to quality of life and opportunity in America.

Consumer Finance

Payday loans in Hawaii once had interest rates of 460%, but legislative reforms passed in June and developed with technical assistance from Pew’s consumer finance project will cap rates at 36% plus a monthly fee of $35 or less, limit total finance charges to less than half of the loan amount, and give borrowers more time to pay. Also in June, Huntington National Bank became the third large U.S. bank to offer small-dollar loans that substantially meet Pew’s published standards for safe small-installment borrowing. Pew’s project also worked at the federal level as Congress and the Biden administration acted in June to overturn rules allowing “rent-a-bank” arrangements. These partnerships between banks and nonbank lenders such as payday loan providers allowed the nonbank to lend at rates substantially higher than the bank would otherwise charge or that local laws would allow.

The Hawaii State Capitol is the official statehouse or capitol building of the U.S. state of Hawaii - Honolulu, USA
The Hawaii State Capitol is the official statehouse or capitol building of the U.S. state of Hawaii - Honolulu, USA
Article

Hawaii Adopts Comprehensive Payday Lending Reform

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Article

Hawaii just enacted significant legislation to reform the state’s small-dollar loan market and prohibit balloon-payment payday loans. House Bill 1192 garnered unanimous support in the State Legislature, and Gov. David Ige (D) signed it into law June 16.

Money jigsaw
Money jigsaw
Issue Brief

Standards Needed for Safe Small Installment Loans

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Issue Brief

Several recent developments have raised the possibility of banks and credit unions offering small installment loans and lines of credit—which would provide a far better option for Americans, who currently spend more than $30 billion annually to borrow small amounts of money from payday, auto title, pawn, rent-to-own, and other small-dollar lenders outside the banking system. Consumers use these high-cost loans to pay bills; cope with income volatility; and avoid outcomes such as eviction or foreclosure, having utilities disconnected, seeing their cars repossessed, or going without necessities. Many of these loans end up harming consumers because of their unaffordable payments and extremely high prices; in the payday and auto title loan markets, for example, most borrowers pay more in fees than they originally received in credit.

Dollars bill spread out on a table with quarters sprawled in a line on top
Dollars bill spread out on a table with quarters sprawled in a line on top
Speeches & Testimony

Stop Harmful 'Rent-a-Bank' Partnerships

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Speeches & Testimony

In a letter dated Oct. 18, The Pew Charitable Trusts warned that these so-called rent-a-bank partnerships—which enable payday lenders to effectively lease a bank’s charter and use it to originate high-cost loans that would otherwise violate state usury laws—put the whole banking system at risk.

Flood Preparation

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act marked a fundamental shift in the nation’s approach to flooding—spending to prepare before disasters strike rather than after the fact. It reflects Pew’s longtime support of flood-ready infrastructure, which evidence shows saves $6 for every $1 invested. The law creates a first-of-its-kind, $8.7 billion grant program to promote resilience in state and local transportation plans and endorses nature-based solutions for transportation projects. Another $4.5 billion is dedicated to a pair of Federal Emergency Management Agency programs that build resilience and mitigate flooding impacts.

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An aerial shot of of a suburban neighborhood with flooded streets and front yards with downed trees and powerlines.
Article

The U.S. Made Strides in 2021 to Improve Flood Policies

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Article

There has been no shortage of devastating and costly flooding across the U.S. this year. Relentless rains inundated communities in California with more than a foot of water in January; record deluges struck Arkansas in early June; storm surges and torrential downpours plagued much of the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard during August and September; and an atmospheric river of moisture drenched the Pacific Northwest in November.

The U.S. Capitol
The U.S. Capitol
Press Releases & Statements

Historic Investment in Flood-Ready Infrastructure

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Press Releases & Statements

The Pew Charitable Trusts applauds key provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that aim to make the nation more flood-ready. The bipartisan legislation, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed today, would provide states and communities with new resources and guidance to help them better prepare for increasingly frequent and intense natural disasters.

Flooded house
Flooded house
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New Flood Insurance Program to Cut Premiums

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Stronger storms. Heavier rainfall. Deadlier and more destructive flooding. This is our new reality, and one that’s here to stay — not only along our coasts but across the U.S., where flooding is by far the most costly natural disaster, causing $900 billion in damage since 2000.

Retirement Savings

More Virginia workers have access to retirement savings programs, thanks to an auto-IRA program passed into law in April. VirginiaSaves is a public-private partnership for private sector workers who do not have retirement benefits at their workplace. Workers at qualifying employers would be automatically enrolled in an individual retirement account, with a portion of their pay set aside, and they could opt out at any time or change their designation. Pew’s retirement savings project worked with Virginia policymakers to enact the law and will continue efforts to expand its reach to more workers at small businesses.

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woman making breakfast
woman making breakfast
Data Visualization

Virginians Could Bear Brunt of Retirement Savings Deficiencies

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Data Visualization

Workers in the United States accumulate the vast majority of their retirement savings through employer-based plans, but large gaps in coverage exist. Virginia is no exception, with at least 1 in 3 workers lacking access to a workplace plan.

PODCAST

The American Family: The Not So Golden Years

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PODCAST

After all the hard work and child rearing, do Americans get to finally relax and retire with some financial stability? Research shows the golden age of retirement doesn’t always shine.

Availability of State Auto-IRAs Appears to Complement Private Market for Retirement Plans
Availability of State Auto-IRAs Appears to Complement Private Market for Retirement Plans
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State Auto-IRAs Pair with Private Market for Retirement Plans

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Article

As more states enact retirement savings programs for private sector workers who can’t save through their jobs, policymakers and analysts have speculated about the potential impact on employers: Would these state programs “crowd out” the private market for plans such that businesses would not adopt their own 401(k)s or comparable alternatives?

Commitment to Communities

Policies grounded in research and data, like Michigan's new jail reforms and Philadelphia's housing initiative, are critical to building a vibrant civic life and assuring that all communities thrive.
Chris Boswell Getty Images

Philadelphia

Some Philadelphia residents have “tangled” home titles, with deeds carrying someone else’s name—say, a deceased parent or other relative—which can prevent access to the full benefits of ownership. Such benefits can include taking equity loans, selling the property, or qualifying for city programs that help low-income households. Pew’s Philadelphia research and policy initiative found that more than 10,400 properties are affected, with many of those property owners unaware of the problem. The initiative’s report in August resulted in hearings and proposed legislation from City Council, and the city established a Tangled Title Fund to help defray homeowners’ costs in getting their titles corrected.

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Philadelphia housing
Philadelphia housing
Report

How 'Tangled Titles' Affect Philadelphia

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Report

Officials in Philadelphia and elsewhere have long grappled with the issue of “tangled titles” for homes—situations in which the deed to a property bears the name of someone other than the apparent owner.

PHILADELPHIA, MT AIRY, PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES -
PHILADELPHIA, MT AIRY, PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES -
Article

Philadelphians Should Be Aware of 'Tangled' Home Titles

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Article

More than 10,000 Philadelphia households are unable to access over $1.1 billion in housing wealth because of problems associated with “tangled titles”—a situation in which the apparent owners of a property do not have their name on the deed.

Philadelphia
Philadelphia
Report

The State of Housing Affordability in Philadelphia

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Report

Housing prices and rents in Philadelphia have long been lower than in many other big cities. But over the past decade, as Philadelphia has shifted from a shrinking city to a growing one with an increased demand for housing, officials and advocates have expressed mounting concern about the degree to which the city remains affordable—and for whom. To assess the situation, The Pew Charitable Trusts conducted a detailed examination of housing data from Philadelphia and put the findings in the context of other large cities throughout the country, both the 10 largest high-poverty cities and the 10 most populous.

Public Safety

Michigan lawmakers adopted historic jail reforms that affect several aspects of local criminal justice systems in the state. The new laws adopted in January eliminate driver’s license suspension as a penalty for infractions unrelated to dangerous driving, increase the use of interventions instead of arrest, improve probation practices, and reduce the use of jail time as punishment for many nonviolent offenses. Pew’s public safety performance project provided technical assistance for the reforms, which will help keep families and communities intact and make better use of taxpayer dollars. 

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Issue Brief

Michigan Enacts Landmark Jail Reforms

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Issue Brief

On Jan. 4, 2021, Michigan lawmakers adopted a package of 20 jail reform bills—a historic slate of changes affecting every aspect of local criminal justice systems.

Opinion

What Does Driving Have to do With Debt Collection?

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Opinion

For some people, a traffic ticket is just a nuisance: pay the ticket and move on. But for many Americans, the inability to pay a ticket or fine, often for a minor infraction, can kick off a harmful chain of events. Starting with having their driver’s license suspended, drivers are then faced with a tough choice to stop driving — and lose access to work and necessities — or keep driving with a suspended license and risk more costly fees, arrest, and even jail time.

Local Spending on Jails
Local Spending on Jails
Issue Brief

Local Spending on Jails Tops $25 Billion in Latest Nationwide Data

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Issue Brief

This chartbook covers the rising cost of jail operations, and makes the case that jurisdictions should safely reduce the jail population to conserve taxpayer dollars and protect public health in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

OC Gonzalez Unsplash

Changing America

With the national conversation on race and diversity quickly evolving in recent years, the Pew Research Center’s 2021 surveys and analysis provided context for America’s changing demographics: Among those who self-identify as Black or African American, the share who say it is their only racial or ethnic identification has declined over the past two decades. Black (61%) and Hispanic (71%) adults were more likely than White (36%) adults to say that they feel a strong connection to their family’s cultural roots and that their origins are central to their identity. And amid widespread reports of discrimination and violence against Asian Americans during the coronavirus outbreak, 32% of Asian adults said they feared someone might threaten or physically attack them—a greater share than other racial or ethnic groups.

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An flag of the United States.
Podcast

Conversations With Leaders—Race and Diversity Today

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Podcast

In this episode, Crystal Hayling, executive director of The Libra Foundation, and Sonal Shah, founding president of The Asian American Foundation, discuss their organizations’ work toward transforming the way race is discussed in America and how to improve understanding about racial concerns to lead to a more inclusive society.

Race and Research: America Today
Race and Research: America Today
Podcast

America Today

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Podcast

In our first episode on race and research, we explore the diverse story of America. William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an internationally regarded demographer, highlights the latest census findings and what they say about the nation today.

Event

A Conversation on Race and Research

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Event

The latest U.S. census data shows the nation is rapidly evolving, with 4 in 10 Americans now identifying with a race other than White.

Protection of the Planet

Pew’s conservation efforts in 2021—both in the U.S. and abroad—helped preserve wild places and rivers, restore biodiversity, and protect ecosystems.
Ignacio Palacios Getty Images

Australia

The Australian Government in April announced funding for a wide range of ocean programs, including new marine parks, an expansion of Sea Country Indigenous Protected Areas, support for “blue carbon” ecosystems, and improved fisheries management. This marked a significant increase in resources for ocean conservation across the country’s exclusive economic zone. Pew’s Outback to Oceans Australia project contributed policy advice to support the AU$100 million plan, which will create regional jobs, engage coastal and Indigenous communities and the private sector, and take steps to improve ecosystems for the animals that live there.

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Limmen Bight Marine Park
Limmen Bight Marine Park
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Marine Park in Australia Protects a Flourishing Ecosystem

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Article

At the top of Australia, a new marine park has won approval—the first in the Northern Territory in more than 30 years—at Limmen Bight.

Largetooth sawfish
Largetooth sawfish
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Seabed Mining Ban in Australia Is a Win for Marine Life

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Australia’s Northern Territory has incredibly healthy tropical coasts and seas—a dazzling mosaic of seagrass meadows, coral reefs, mangrove forests, estuaries and vast intertidal flats that sustain an array of wildlife along with Indigenous and other communities.

Nirian Getty Images

Coastal Protections

Salt marshes are winding meadows of grasslands that protect coastlines from flooding, erosion, and storm surge while filtering runoff, storing carbon, and providing homes for birds, fish, and other animals. In May, federal, state, and military leaders of the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability voted to create a conservation plan to protect salt marsh habitat in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and northeast Florida. Pew led a coalition of more than 20 organizations representing fishing, birding, hunting, boating, conservation, and public policy interests asking the regional partnership to safeguard the ecosystem, which provides a first line of defense for coastal communities and military installations.

North Carolina wetlands
North Carolina wetlands
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North Carolina Approves Updated Coastal Habitat Plan

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North Carolina’s coastal ecosystems, wildlife, and communities got a big boost Nov. 19 when the state’s Marine Fisheries Commission approved an update to its Coastal Habitat Protection Plan (CHPP).

A great white egret flying with wings spread wide over the water.
A great white egret flying with wings spread wide over the water.
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Connecticut Gains National Estuarine Research Reserve

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Connecticut today successfully concluded a decades-long quest when the U.S. Department of Commerce, on the recommendation of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), designated the country’s 30th National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) within the state’s borders.

Mangrove forest
Mangrove forest
Issue Brief

Coastal 'Blue Carbon' and Combating Climate Change

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Issue Brief

Coastal wetlands, including salt marshes, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows, are among the most productive—and threatened—ecosystems on the planet.

John Hyde Design Pics via Getty Images

Lands

In November, the Biden administration announced that it would restore the Roadless Area Conservation Rule in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, protecting some 9 million acres that include the largest remaining tracts of old-growth forest in the country. The rule works to conserve exceptional swaths of public lands by preventing most development and prohibiting the construction of roads, which can lead to the rapid degradation of ecosystems. Pew played a major role in establishing the roadless rule in 2001 and in maintaining these safeguards in the Tongass and other national forests.

Mt. McGinnis Trail
Mt. McGinnis Trail
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U.S. to Protect Alaska's Tongass National Forest

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Article

In a move that will benefit a range of wildlife, including salmon and brown bears, along with commercial fishing fleets, Indigenous Alaskans, tourism operators, and others in the state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in late November proposed restoring long-standing protections across 9 million acres of Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska.

Article

‘Truly Magical’ Tongass: Stunning Photos Show a Forest Under Threat

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Article

Photographer and conservationist Melissa Farlow grew up in landlocked Indiana, making her time on assignment in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest—surrounded by massive old-growth trees, glaciers, roadless areas, and snowcapped mountains—“truly an adventure,” she says.

Lana2011 Getty Images

Wildlife Migration

Each year in the U.S., largely along animal migration routes, more than 1 million collisions occur between vehicles and wildlife—killing and injuring tens of thousands of people and countless animals. Pew’s U.S. lands and rivers conservation project has advocated for the installation of wildlife bridges, tunnels, culverts, and fencing that preserve the well-traveled corridors that big game herds and other animals traditionally follow. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act marked the first significant dedication of federal resources to this effort—$350 million over five years—for state, local, and tribal governments to install these lifesaving wildlife crossings.

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Two elk stand by the road as traffic moves over a large underground crossing structure that allows animals to pass under US 285 at this point on the 2 mile long Safety Treatment Corridor along US 285 just South of Buena Vista, CO. on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.
Wildlife crossings, such as this one under U.S. 285 near Buena Vista, Colorado, provide safe passage for migrating elk and other animals
Article

New Funding for Wildlife Highway Crossings

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Every spring, as they have for millennia, millions of animals in the American West—such as elk, pronghorn, and mule deer—journey from their winter grounds to cooler, more lush summer habitat to fatten up before fall.

Deer crossing highway
Deer crossing highway
Opinion

New Infrastructure Law is a Win for Drivers and Wildlife

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The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, passed by Congress and signed into law earlier this month by President Joe Biden, means more than relief from potholes, congestion, and highways and bridges that are in desperate need of repair.

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Climate Change

The Pew Research Center found a growing global concern about climate change: In September, it reported that 80% of respondents in 17 advanced economies say they are willing to make a lot or some changes to how they live and work to help reduce climate change. And a May report found that in the U.S., Millennials and Gen Zers stand out from older generations in talking more about the need for action and are more involved in activities such as volunteering and attending rallies and protests on climate change.

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Trust Magazine

Progress in a Difficult Year

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From conducting research that helps state policymakers cope with the pandemic’s fiscal impacts to promoting legislation to restore our national parks, Pew’s work produced a range of accomplishments in 2020.

Barataria, Louisiana flood
Barataria, Louisiana flood
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Establishing a Flood Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy

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With the frequency, intensity, and cost of climate-related disasters projected to rise over the next several decades, governments at all levels in the U.S. must act now to reduce the impacts of those events, particularly floods.

Superbugs: A Global Health Threat