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Category: Financial Security

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How LA can make an immediate impact on homelessness

In this op-ed: Western Center’s Executive Director, Paul Tepper, explains how California counties can get thousands of people housed in the immediate future: increase General Relief/ Assistance for adults in poverty.

In L.A. County, the amount hasn’t increased since the 80’s. It’s $221/ month.



New York State Follows California in Banning Hair Discrimination

The fight to legally protect black women and men with natural hair just gained another ally. On July 12th, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed assembly bill 007797to prohibit “race discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles” in the state of New York.

…The Crown Coalition, which is comprised of the the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color Of Change, and Dove, hoped this would encourage other states to follow California’s lead.

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The Country’s First Child Allowance (Almost)

Last week, the California legislature passed a budget that spends billions of dollars to attack poverty in the state. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed it into law, in so doing increasing funding for cash welfare, providing $1.5 billion for affordable housing, and also providing more resources for eviction defense, the state’s Medicaid program, homelessness aid, and myriad other anti-poverty programs. In what Newsom termed “perhaps the most significant anti-poverty initiatives that we’ll be passing this year,” the new budget also more than doubles the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and creates what might be the country’s first child allowance—or at least, the closest thing yet to one.

“We could call it a universal allowance, you might call it a guaranteed income,” says Jessica Bartholow, policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “It says to households with children that they will have minimally an annual income of $1,000.” If, of course, they report some earnings.

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Western Center submits comments opposing HUD anti-immigrant rule proposal

The comment period has ended for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposed rule to deny housing assistance to “mixed-status” families that include undocumented or otherwise ineligible individuals. The change would leave families with the choice of kicking out undocumented family members from their household, or completely losing assistance, which would also significantly impact many children who are U.S. citizens.

Western Center is strongly opposed to the rule; if implemented, it will have a devastating impact on over 25,000 families, and will create decades of generational instability and poverty. California in particular cannot afford for this rule to be implemented in the midst of our housing crisis. “Mixed-status” families are the backbone of our state; imposing this kind of baseless cruelty and instability is not only morally bankrupt, it is also devoid of common sense.

An excerpt from our comment is below. The full letter can be read here.

“As California’s oldest and largest legal services support center, we have over 50 years’ experience fighting to reduce poverty in our state through the courts, the legislature, and by working with state and local agencies to ensure our laws are fair and justly implemented. We can speak directly to which federal and state policies serve to reduce poverty in our communities and benefit our state and country as a whole and which policies worsen poverty, penalize families struggling to make ends meet, and hurt us all. HUD’s proposed rule threatens to exacerbate poverty by evicting over 25,000 families with mixed immigration status, betraying this country’s promise of opportunity in favor of an unreasoned, unworkable policy. Almost ten thousand of those families are in California. The rule should be withdrawn.”

Western Center submits comments opposing changes to the Official Poverty Measure

Western Center submitted comments to the Office of Management and Budget regarding its proposal to change the federal government’s Official Poverty Measure. Western Center opposes the proposed changes, because they would significantly undermine the reality of poverty throughout the U.S., and would improperly bar individuals in need from accessing public benefits and services. People of color, women, and members of the LGBTQIA+ communities would be disproportionately impacted by such a change.

Our full comments can be read here, and an excerpt is available below:

“Replacing the current methodology for calculating the annual poverty threshold would irreparably harm the country’s most vulnerable populations by grossly understating rate of inflation among low-income households.
The proposed rule would inflict irreparable harm because it would (1) deprive impoverished households of the public benefits necessary to mitigate their material hardships, and (2) have a disparate impact on persons on color in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Dove & The CROWN Coalition Joins Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright (NY) To End Hair Discrimination In New York State With S6209 The CROWN Act

Dove and fellow co-founding members of the CROWN Coalition (National Urban League, Color Of Change and Western Center on Law & Poverty) are excited to extend their support to Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright (NY) and congratulate Senator Jamaal T. Bailey (Democrat | NY) as NY S6209 ‘The CROWN Act’ passed the Senate, 46-16 on Monday, June 17 to prohibit discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles.

…”A person’s professional capacity has nothing to do with whether or not they process their hair to conform to an idea of professionalism or beauty rooted firmly in European standards,” said Courtney McKinney, Communications Director, Western Center on Law and Poverty. “We are a multiracial society in need of diverse thought, leadership, and experience. Simply put, our collective success relies on our commitment to respect every person in every form — hair and all.”

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California considers adopting part of Trump’s tax law

California’s liberal Legislature wants to give poor people a lot more money in their state tax refunds each year, including an extra $1,000 for people who earn less than $30,000 a year and have at least one child under 6.

But to do it, they’ll have to agree — at least partially — with Republican President Trump.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s spending plan would triple how much the state spends on its earned income tax credit to $1.2 billion, making about 1 million more households eligible to get it. To pay for it, California would have to adopt some of Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul that was despised by Democrats, especially in California, because it capped the amount of state and local tax deductions in a move they say disproportionately hit high-income, high-taxed states.

…”The Trump administration got rid of these loopholes at the federal level to be able to provide a deeper tax cut to corporate America,” said Mike Herald, director of policy advocacy for the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “We’re flipping that on its head. Instead, we’re going to use the same money … to help people who need it the most. I think most of the progressive liberal members of the Legislature are completely comfortable with that.”

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Proposed Legislation Would Ban Towing In Some Cases

Unpaid parking tickets or registration fees, parking your car on a city street for more than three days — these could get you towed and if you can’t pay fees, your car might be sold!

New legislation is hoping to ease those worries. AB 516 would ban towing in a handful of cases. The goal is to keep the poor from being penalized.

“They get their cars towed away because they can’t afford parking tickets. They get their cars towed away because they can’t afford DMV registration,” said Michael Herald.

Herald is with the Western Center on Law and Poverty. He is focused on the 46% of Americans who can’t afford a $400 emergency bill.

“And then to tow away their car, their main economic asset which they use to earn a living, it’s like a punishment. It’s like trying to kill a gnat with a sledgehammer,” said Herald.

Watch the segment