A Paycheck Away from Financial Catastrophe

Anne Price, Medium

Two weeks ago, following the longest government shutdown in U.S history, hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors headed back to work after going 35 days without pay. For some employees relief will come in the form of a paycheck and back pay, however, many federal contractors (almost 2 million of whom earn less than $12 an hour) may not get paid for the days they lost.

This latest government shutdown brings to the forefront what so many American workers feel everyday, even some of those who are in the middle or upper middle class. Too many among us are just a missed paycheck or two from financial catastrophe.

The devastating effects of disrupted income were felt by most federal workers, but were even more painful for the nearly half of federal workers who are sole earners, and the close to 40% who have children. Financial hardship is also experienced by Black and Latino workers who make up nearly 20% and 9% of the federal workforce, respectively, and are often on the low end of the government pay scale.

Some workers took to Twitter under the #shutdownstories hashtag to share their stories of hardship and strategies for survival during the furlough. We learned about their decisions to forgo doctor’s appointments, cut back on critical medication, skip meals, rely on food banks, launch GoFundMe campaigns to cover basic expenses, borrow money from friends and family, deplete savings, and dip into retirement accounts just to scrape by.

Yet these are not extraordinary measures — in fact, these strategies have become all too commonplace among everyday workers who experience an economic shock due to an employer suddenly changing or cutting shifts or hours, or unexpected layoffs.

Click here to read the full feature on Medium.

Past the Drought: New Report Examines Inequities in California’s Central Valley

By Aisa Villarosa, Associate Director of Policy and Research

Take your pick of produce from any grocery aisle in the nation, and it’s likely to come from California’s Central Valley.

The Central Valley contains less than one percent of total farmland in the United States; and yet, the region grows nearly half of the country’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts, carrying a total annual value of over $33 billion.[1] This abundance is achieved through the year-round efforts of the Valley’s agricultural workers — thousands of women, men, and children who toil through scorching days and cold nights, with little pay or job protection.

Insight’s new report, Past the Drought: Overcoming Barriers to Economic Security in California’s Central Valley, spotlights how, despite decades of invaluable contributions to the nation’s economic growth, the Valley is the poorest region in California — with nearly 4 out of every 10 households unable to afford basic needs. Using Insight’s Self-Sufficiency Standard,[2] the report highlights key findings and offers recommendations for change so that all Central Valley residents can have a chance to thrive.

Click here to read the full piece.

Kenya James

 Kenya James is the Finance and Operations Manager at the Insight Center. In this role, Kenya ensures that the organization runs smoothly and that staff members have the support they need in order to be effective in their positions and the community. Prior to joining the Insight Center, Kenya served as the Facilities Manager at the Greenlining Institute in Oakland, CA. She also was an Administrative Assistant at Charles River Associates, a leading global consulting firm. Kenya is a veteran of the U.S. Army and obtained her degree in Business Administration with options in Accounting and IT Management from Cal State University, East Bay.

Episode 20: Catherine Berman

Listen to Anne Price and Catherine Berman discuss the social investment platform CNote as an innovative model for expanding economic development and opportunity in historically underserved communities.


Catherine Berman is a three-time social entrepreneur, former Managing Director at Charles Schwab, and co-founder of CNote, a social investment platform.

Catherine joined Insight President Anne Price on the podcast to discuss the work of CNote to provide an innovative, accessible platform for investing in the public good by allowing individuals to invest directly in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs are Treasury Department-certified organizations whose goal is to invest in economic development and job creation in low-income communities.

Sharing her vision behind CNote, Catherine discussed how a social investment platform like CNote can foster economic development and opportunity in underserved communities – including expanded entrepreneurship among historically excluded groups – while providing solid, transparent, and socially responsible returns for investors.

Considering issues of race, gender, and wealth, Anne and Catherine discussed the need to bring greater diversity and accessibility to financial services; the power of embracing our own “otherness;” and the transformative potential of being mindful of the impact of each and every dollar we invest or spend.

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


Read stories of borrowers who have been funded through CNote’s social investment network.

Learn more about Community Development Financial Institutions and their impact in low-income communities.

Learn more about CNote by visiting mycnote.com and following CNote on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Data For Black Lives | Black People vs Robots: Panel Discussion

Earlier this month, Anne Price shared her thoughts during a panel discussion titled “Black People vs. Robots: Reparations and Workers Rights in the Age of Automation” at the second annual Data for Black Lives conference.

The conference convened hundreds of data scientists, computer programmers, racial justice activists, and elected officials to discuss the role that data can and should play in Black communities. Click here or on the video below to watch a recording of Anne’s panel discussion.

Episode 19: Anne Price + Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Listen to Anne and Jhumpa reflect on women’s leadership, truth telling, reframing economic security and more, as they share highs, lows, and the most promising ideas of 2018 in their annual year in review.


Jhumpa Bhattacharya (left) and Anne Price (right)

2018 was a tough, wild year…but from adversity comes strength to overturn the status quo and build power.

For their annual year in review, Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya took over the podcast to reflect on these extraordinary times and highlight a range of promising ideas, policies, and people who have risen above the tumult.

From Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and women’s leadership, to new understandings of economic security and criminal justice, Anne and Jhumpa discuss the power of truth telling, narrative change, and putting new perspectives into practice and the halls of power.

Looking back and ahead, the two Insight leaders reflected on groundbreaking policy wins around eliminating administrative criminal justice fees in California, and offered a sneak peek at upcoming Insight research on millennial women and wealth.

Anne and Jhumpa also discussed thinking big and sharing leadership as two women of color  – and the real, persistent dangers of pushing for change as people coming from traditionally silenced and/or excluded communities.

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


To learn more about the Insight Center, click here to visit the website. Be sure to follow both @AnnePriceICCED and @jhumpa_b on Twitter.


Resources:

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.