Past the Drought: Overcoming Barriers to Economic Security in California’s Central Valley

Past the Drought: Overcoming Barriers to Economic Security in California’s Central Valley, a report released by the Insight Center in partnership with the California Asset Building Coalition, examines why so many workers in the Central Valley of California are struggling to afford their basic needs.

Nestled in the heart of California, the Central Valley bears a legacy of racial and cultural diversity that has made it one of the world’s greatest agriculture and production centers. This sprawling geographic area – including the counties of Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Tulare, and Kings – grows over half of all fruits, vegetables, and nuts in the United States.

Despite decades of rich contributions to the state’s economic growth, the Valley is the poorest region in California, with nearly 4 out of every 10 households unable to afford basic needs. Every day, Central Valley workers and families grapple with where to live, how to get to work, and whether they can support their loved ones.

The region’s households of color, immigrants, and women face an even greater risk of economic insecurity, even when one is working – and, often, working multiple jobs – to make ends meet. What’s more, the Valley is often left out of a policy agenda dominated by the Bay Area and other metropolitan regions – making it even more difficult for communities to identify resources, strategies, and partners dedicated to improving the economic outcomes of the region, its neighborhoods, and its families.

Using Insight’s Self-Sufficiency Standard for California, the report highlights key findings and offers recommendations for change so that all Central Valley residents have the opportunity to thrive.

Click here to view and download Past the Drought: Overcoming Barriers to Economic Security in California’s Central Valley.

Episode 18: Shawn Fremstad

Listen to Anne Price and Shawn Fremstad discuss economic exclusion and recently proposed changes to “public charge” regulation that, if implemented, would block citizenship for immigrants drawing on public assistance programs.


Anne Price, President of the Insight Center, welcomed Shawn Fremstad on the podcast to discuss the history and continued harmful impacts of economic exclusion for immigrants in America.  

Shawn is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. He is also a senior research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Ford Foundation public voices fellow, and a consultant on policy issues to various national nonprofits. He is an expert on poverty, family, and economic security.

Under the Trump administration there has been a rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy, and in recent days the American public has seen horrible images of migrants running from tear gas near the U.S.-Mexico border as a consequence of such actions. However, there is another issue that has not received as much attention in the public discourse — the administration’s proposed changes to “public charge” regulation, which would, in effect, block citizenship for poor immigrants and punish those who draw on public assistance programs.

In addition to spotlighting the impact this policy change could have on immigrant families, their communities, and our country at large, Shawn also provided updates on the latest developments regarding the Farm Bill, work requirements, and TANF reauthorization.

Before Trump’s “public charge” rule can be finalized, the administration is required by law to review and respond to every unique public comment they receive about the proposed regulation. Shawn encouraged listeners to submit their public comments by Monday, December 10. Click here to submit your comment to stop Trump’s cruel attack on immigrant families.

To listen to the full discussion, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.


Resources:


To learn more about Shawn’s work, please visiting the Center for American Progress website and follow him on Twitter @inclusionist.

Episode 17: Brandon Greene and Noe Gudiño

Listen to Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Brandon Greene and Noe Gudiño discuss the impacts of administrative criminal justice fees and fines on formerly incarcerated individuals as they try to move on with their lives after serving time.


Brandon Greene is a Staff Attorney and Clinical Supervisor of Clean Slate Practice at East Bay Community Legal Center. Noe Gudiño is the 2018 Elder Freeman Policy Fellow at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and a junior transfer student at Cal State University East Bay where he started Level 5, a campus organization servicing formerly incarcerated students.

Brandon and Noe joined the podcast to discuss the impacts of administrative criminal justice fees and fines on formerly incarcerated individuals as they try to move on with their lives after serving time.

Ahead of the Alameda Board of Supervisors’ upcoming vote on whether to eliminate these fines and fees, Brandon shared highlights from the East Bay Community Legal Center’s recently released report, “Pay or Prey,” which details the social and economic harms caused by these administrative fees specifically for people of color in Alameda County.

Noe discussed his current work with Debt Free Justice California, a statewide coalition, and shared their recent survey results showing the staggering amounts of debt and far-reaching consequences stemming from these often exorbitant fees and fine. If you or someone you know would like to complete the Debt Free Justice California survey, please contact Noe here.

To listen to the full discussion, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.


Resources:


To learn about Brandon Greene, please visit ebclc.org and follow him on Twitter @brandonlgreene. And be sure to learn about Noe’s work at prisonerswithchildren.org.

Opinion: End criminal justice fees that harm minorities and poor

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya and Theresa Zhen | The Mercury News

The Bay Area is known for its progressive values. We view ourselves as committed to ensuring everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, is safe, economically secure and able to reach their full potential.

In line with these values, San Francisco recently took a groundbreaking step forward by eliminating administrative criminal justice fees that are largely uncollectable and cause undue harm to communities of color and low-income communities.

It’s time for Alameda County to step up and do the same.

Charged to people who have already paid their debt to society, criminal justice administrative fees serve no formal punitive function and are often assigned to people who simply cannot afford to pay them.

In Alameda County, there is an outstanding debt of over $21 million owed by more than 35,000 individuals. The fees range from charging $450 to people who used a public defender for motions, trials or other evidentiary proceedings for a misdemeanor case, to fees for probation supervision, for example, which are $90 a month, or $6,100 for the average probationer per case.

Such crippling fees force families who are already financially stressed to make untenable choices between paying court-ordered fees or covering basic expenses, like feeding their children. They therefore often end up with insurmountable, uncollectible debt.

Click here to read the full op-ed.

Digging Deeper on the “Tools that Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor”

In mid-September, Insight president Anne Price had the pleasure of sitting down with Virginia Eubanks, an associate professor of political science at the University at Albany, SUNY, to discuss her work and her new book, Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor.

Virginia has worked as a welfare rights advocate and spent the past several years examining how automated social exclusion is growing by the use of predictive models and algorithms that are replacing or augmenting human decision-making in our social welfare system.

Click here to read excerpts from their conversation.

 

Episode 16: Dr. David Pate Jr and Jacquelyn L Boggess

Listen to Anne Price, Dr. David Pate Jr and Jacquelyn L. Boggess discuss the harms of economic and social welfare policies on families, specifically the impact of child support debt.


Dr. David Pate Jr is the Chair and Associate Professor at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin MilwaukeeJacquelyn L. Boggess is a policy analyst and the Executive Director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice (CFFPP).

Combined, the two have decades of research and a wealth of knowledge on low income African-American men, fatherhood and child support debt. Dr. Pate shared his research on how black men are affected by the social welfare system and the challenges that impede their ability to attain economic security. Jacquelyn explained her take on the current state of the social safety net and how her experiences in and out of the courtroom have shaped her work.

Stay tuned for a new groundbreaking tool, which will launch in a few weeks, to better evaluate fair child support rates for families in Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Wisconsin.

To listen to the full discussion, use the audio player above or subscribe to the Hidden Truths podcast on iTunes.


Resources:

This Labor Day, We’re Investing in the Work of Black Women,” Aisha Nyandoro on Medium

A New Basic Income Pilot in Mississippi, feat. Aisha Nyandoro,” The New Basic Income Podcast

A basic income pilot in Mississippi will provide 15 black mothers with $1000 for free every month, and it could lead to a much bigger experiment,”  on Business Insider


To learn about Dr. David Pate Jr by visiting uwm.edu/socialwelfare and following him on Twitter @DavidJPate. And be sure to learn about Jacquie’s work at CFFPP.org and follow her at @Jacboggess.

Why a Social Wealth Fund Must Account for Racial Inequity

By Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Medium

There has never been a more critical, more insistent time to reimagine and implement economic policies to address the rise of extreme racial and economic inequality, and change the rules that govern power and the concentration of wealth.

Wealth — what you own minus what you owe — acts as the buffer between temporary setback and economic catastrophe; it allows us to live and retire with dignity and security. Without savings or wealth of some form, economic stability is built on a house of cards that quickly crumbles when income is cut or disrupted through job loss, reduced work hours or wages, or if families suffer from an unexpected health emergency.

The difference in wealth holdings between the ultra-wealthy and everybody else continues to widen. Today, about 160,000 U.S. households own more wealth than the poorest 90 percent combined. And the differences in wealth between whites and people of color is at its highest level in 25 years. In 2016, the typical white household held $171,000 in wealth — 10 times that of the typical Black household, and about 8 times that of Latinx households.

We can and must steer our economy to create a just and fair society that tackles inequality and climate change, and empowers each American to share in the investments that are now hoarded by a select few. The public wealth fund is one key model that has drawn increased study as a way to address these issues.

Click here to read the full article.

It’s Bigger Than Bail

By Anne Price, Medium

Our criminal justice system is broken. Reforming, fixing or better yet reimagining how we think about safety and justice in America is imperative in our work toward racial and economic justice. All across the country, grassroots organizations led by communities of color, women, advocates and progressive policymakers are shedding light on how our current system perpetuates racial and economic inequities, and are joining campaigns to eradicate fines and fees, mandatory sentencing requirements and money bail.

What is becoming increasingly evident, is that we must ground our work in a proactive vision of what safety, justice, and liberation means to us versus focusing on ending a specific practice. This week’s legislation to end money bail in California is a prime example of this need.

A few days ago, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 10 (SB10) to end the heinous system of money bail in California. While this seems like a great win, the legislation actually replaces money bail with racially bias risk assessments and a subjective evaluation process giving too much power to the discretion of judges and prosecutors, who studies show are prone to implicit racial bias. We’ve effectively replaced one terrible practice with yet another one that will continue to harm Black and Brown communities. For more on the problems with Senate Bill 10, read our Director of Policy and Research Jacob Denney’s piece on this matter.

Click here to read the full feature.

SB10 Will Hurt, Not Help

By Jacob Denney, Medium

This week, California legislatures moved forward in passing Senate Bill 10 to eliminate money bail. While eliminating money bail is desperately needed to fix our broken criminal justice system, the bill as it stands now will do nothing to disrupt the legacy of racial and economic injustice that has shaped our state’s criminal justice system. In fact, the bill will likely ensure a continuance of that legacy.

To be clear, we must get rid of money bail in order to address the deep inequities of our current criminal justice system. Money bail disproportionately punishes people with low incomes and people of color. It creates a two-tiered system of justice, one where those who can afford it are released from pretrial incarceration and everyone else is trapped in jail, unable to work, support their families, or assist in their own defense. This system reduces economic stability, particularly for families who are already struggling, and destroys thousands of people’s lives in California every year. Senate Bill 10 is likely to do the exact same thing.

Senate Bill 10 would replace the discriminatory money bail system with a new structure where anyone accused of a crime can be held pretrial, regardless of the circumstances. Dubbed “preventive detention,” this discretionary evaluation process would enable judges and prosecutors to hold people accused of crimes in jail with remarkable ease. This means that more, rather than fewer, Californians would likely end up behind bars while waiting for trial.

Click here to read Jacob’s full op-ed.

City Visions | KALW Radio Program

Anne Price, alongside Chris Hoene, Executive Director of the California Budget & Policy Center, and Taylor Jo Isenberg, Managing Director of the Economic Security Project, explored the promise of universal basic income in California on KALW City Vision radio program.

The three shared their knowledge and research to answer the following:

  • Are monthly cash transfers the social safety net of the future — addressing poverty, racial inequity and automation-induced job losses?
  • Or, is basic income just a costly addition to our current, some would say failing, social assistance programs?
  • And more from listeners who called in to ask their specific questions!

Click here to listen to the full conversation.