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EPIC News – November 2020


Western Center’s 2020 Election Debrief

Americans and Californians made it through another election, with big implications for the country’s future. Here in California, we voted on several important races and propositions on our 2020 ballot. Western Center’s debrief analyzes some of those propositions, what they mean for the future of California, and for the people we serve.

Overall, we are very pleased that Proposition 17 (Right to Vote for People Who Were Formerly Incarcerated) passed, and that Proposition 20 (Restore Crimes and Limit Early Release) failed, because both outcomes are important in the fight for criminal justice reform.

That said, we are disappointed with the outcomes of Proposition 15 (Schools and Communities First/ Prop 13 Split Roll), Prop 16 (Repeal Ban on Affirmative Action), Prop 21 (Reduce State Limits on Local Rent Control), Prop 22 (Repeal Worker Protections for App-based Rideshare Workers), and Prop 25 (Repeal State Law Eliminating Money Bail), as they solidify the status quo of racial and economic inequality in our state. Of course, we will continue to work toward more equitable policies for many of these issues through the legislative process.

Read the full debrief here.


CalFresh Court Win

The California Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday that the Department of Social Services must replace CalFresh benefits (“food stamps”) when they are electronically stolen from recipients. Western Center and our partners at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles represented plaintiffs who experienced electronic theft of their CalFresh benefits. The Court of Appeal decision reverses a trial court ruling that said the state is not responsible for replacing stolen benefits. Read more about the case here.


COVID Eviction Ordinances Protected

Last Friday, a judge denied the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles’ motion for preliminary injunction, which asked the court to stop enforcement of the City of Los Angeles’ COVID-related tenant protections. Western Center, along with Public Counsel, The Public Interest Law Project, and Susman Godfrey LLP, represent two tenants’ rights organizations, ACCE Action and Strategic Action for a Just Economy (SAJE), that successfully sought to intervene in the lawsuit to help defend the ordinances. The court’s latest decision is significant in the fight to keep renters housed in California, as it affirms the importance of people staying in their homes in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Read more in this blog post by Western Center Senior Attorney, Nisha Vyas.


Western Center’s 2020 Election Debrief

Americans and Californians have made it through another election, with big implications for the country’s future. Western Center extends a hearty congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and California’s own, Kamala Harris, who will step into history as this country’s first Black American, Asian American, and woman to hold the office of Vice President of the United States. As a nonpartisan organization working toward racial justice in California and the United States, we cannot overstate the significance of this moment as part of the continued march toward a true representative government that reflects the population it serves.

Here in California, we voted on several important races and propositions on our 2020 ballot. Below is Western Center’s analysis of what some of those propositions mean for the future of California, and for the people we serve.

First, we must state our position that the California proposition system is incredibly flawed and fundamentally unjust. While popular vote sounds democratic, our proposition system allows wealthy interests to dictate and manipulate state law, often without full disclosure to voters, and at the expense of the most disenfranchised and marginalized people in our state and country. We believe the legislative process is the appropriate place for creating sound policy, not the proposition system.

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PROPOSITION 15: Schools and Communities First – FAILED

Western Center supported Proposition 15, widely referred to as the property tax split roll, as an attempt to make headway in the fight to make California’s tax laws more just, and to chip away at the foundation that makes the state so economically unequal. In 1978, voters approved Prop 13, which limited property taxes on all property owners — commercial and residential, by capping taxes at 1.1 percent of the value of the property at the time it was purchased. While Prop 13 is often viewed as untouchable politically, it is a major source of wealth inequality and a prime example of structural racism, because it keeps taxes permanently low for those who are long time property owners (overwhelmingly white), but imposes a higher tax on those who bought property more recently (increasingly people of color). Prop 15’s failure means the unjust tax implications of Prop 13 remain untouched, and wealth distribution in California remains lopsided. At a time when significant revenue is needed to address the affordable housing crisis, homelessness, and improved public benefits programs, this is a significant loss in the fight for a more equal California.

PROPOSITION 16: Repeal Ban on Affirmative Action – FAILED

Western Center heartily supported this measure, and frankly, we are very disappointed with this outcome because of the unfortunate message it sends to California’s increasingly diverse population. Prop 16 would have reversed a 1996 initiative that banned affirmative action (the practice of establishing certain criteria that allows consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public education, public employment, and public contracting) in all forms of state and local government. In practice, affirmative action is intended to level the playing field and reduce the effects of explicit and implicit bias. California, like the rest of the United States, was formed on a foundation of explicit white supremacy and patriarchy in law and society, which means active policies are required to obtain balance. The failure of Prop 16 this year means that the fight for true racial equity is more of an uphill battle in California than this progressive state would like to believe.

PROPOSITION 17: Right to Vote for People Who Were Formerly Incarcerated – PASSED

Western Center supported this measure, which restores the right to vote to Californians with a prior felony criminal conviction, provided they are not incarcerated. The additional punishment leveraged by state law before the passage of Prop 17 deprived 50,000 Californians of a fundamental right of all citizens. Western Center supported the measure because as we know from our work, the history of racism in our country has led to over-policing in communities of color, which means the pre-Prop 17 law unjustly dilutes their voting power.

PROPOSITION 18: Right to register to vote at age 17 – FAILED

Western Center supported Prop 18, which would have allowed eligible 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the next November general election to vote. Western Center supported Prop 18 because studies that show that pro-voting initiatives like this one encourage greater voter participation among young people, which is crucial for engaging younger generations into the political process, and because we think people who are old enough to vote in November should have the opportunity to make the initial choice for the November ballot in the primaries, even if they’re still 17. If the historic, high level of voter turnout among young people this year tells us anything, it’s that initiatives like this are likely to come back, because young people want their voices to be heard.

PROPOSITION 20: Restores Crimes and Limits Early Release – FAILED

Western Center opposed Prop 20, which would have reinstated certain theft crimes as felonies instead of misdemeanors, and made it harder for people convicted of felonies to be approved for parole. It also would have expanded collection of DNA samples from people charged with crimes, and from youth. The failure of this measure sends a strong statement to California policy makers that voters are satisfied with the reforms already passed, and suggests that they are ready for more. We are pleased with this outcome and know that it will lead to increased support for further criminal justice reform efforts.  

PROPOSITION 21: Reduce State Limits on Local Rent Control – FAILED

Western Center supported Prop 21, which proposed several changes to a state law known as the Costa-Hawkins Act, limiting ability of local governments to control the cost of rental housing, by allowing rent control on units older than 15 years and allowing local governments to restrict rent increases on units when a tenant moves out. Western Center has never supported Costa-Hawkins and was a major opponent to the policy for the past 25 years. A measure similar to Prop 21 failed in 2018, and since then there has been a spike in rent across California and significant increases in homelessness. With COVID-19 causing many tenants to be unable to pay the high cost of rent in California, it is necessary to pass meaningful limits on rental housing costs. The failure of this measure marks yet another setback in the fight for more affordable housing in California and to keep people housed when they are on the brink of homelessness. The Legislature must address this issue, or the state will continue to see increases in homelessness.

PROPOSITION 22: Repeals Worker Protections for App-based Rideshare Workers – PASSED

Western Center opposed Prop 22. This proposition repeals a portion of Assembly Bill 5, which was passed by the Legislature last year to require that companies employing so called “independent contractors” instead classify workers as employees. When workers are classified as employees, companies must provide basic worker protections like unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, health coverage, minimum wage, sick pay, overtime and social security. Western Center supported AB 5 because many app-based workers are not receiving a fair wage or minimum worker protections. When they can’t work, they’re often left with nothing, and as a result, they sometimes end up on public assistance and in crisis, as the companies they work for experience record profit. Income inequality is one of the most important issues of our time; the average pay of corporate CEOs is now 321 times more than the typical worker they employ, and the use of independent contractors is accelerating that trend by allowing companies to keep money normally used to provide basic employment services for themselves.

Western Center is strongly opposed to Prop 22, and we are disheartened that it passed for a number of reasons. App-based companies leveraged a multi-million-dollar campaign to draft and pass this initiative so they don’t have to provide basic worker protections, which is money they could have used to provide those protections. Uber also used that money to defend against a lawsuit brought by drivers claiming the company coerced them into supporting the measure. The way the Prop 22 campaign played out exemplifies the deep flaws with California’s proposition system, which allows wealthy interests to dictate and manipulate state law. As long as there is money to spend, those interests can play fast and loose with their claims and campaign messages, to the detriment of people who don’t have the same means.

PROPOSITION 24: Use of Personal Data by Private Business – PASSED

This measure, which Western Center opposed, makes changes to California law regarding how personal information collected by corporations and data firms can be used and shared. It overrides elements of a 2018 “landmark” privacy law that limited the use of data sharing. Prop 24 allows data collectors to use “neighborhood scores” in determining a person’s credit worthiness, which means a person’s credit could be lower because of the community they live in. Prop 24 also reduces the number of companies subject to the law. It takes regulation for privacy breaches away from the state Attorney General and shifts it to a newly created state agency with capped funding. Western Center was against Prop 24, along with a host of consumer organizations. We support strong consumer protections, but believe the legislative process, not the proposition process, is the appropriate forum for making changes to state law.

PROPOSITION 25: Repeal State Law Eliminating Money Bail – FAILED

Prop 25’s failure overturns Senate Bill 10, which passed the California Legislature in 2018 and would have eliminated the use of money bail in California in determining who is detained in jail pending a trial to determine their guilt or innocence. Western Center was a co-sponsor of SB 10 because the money bail system benefits those with wealth, while people with fewer resources (again, disproportionately people of color) often languish in jail for lengthy periods of time, losing jobs, housing, family, health and sometimes life while in jail. To avoid these consequences, people will often accept a plea deal rather than fight for their innocence in order to be released.

Western Center was a strong supporter of Prop 25, and we are frustrated by its failure. We understand the very real concerns about replacing money bail with the “risk assessment” algorithm system, as there is noted bias in that system, but risk assessment tools are already used in 44 California counties in addition to money bail. What’s more, Western Center sponsored Senate Bill 36, which will be enacted in 2021, to require that any risk assessment used by a court be certified as bias-free. Independent research on Prop 25 found that it would keep thousands of people out of jail pre-trial, and would end the collection of $6 Billion in bail bonds from Californians with little to no wealth. Prop 25 also would have eliminated the bail bonds lobby, which contributes to pro-incarceration measures like Prop 20. The California Supreme Court is currently deliberating two cases in which the plaintiffs claim that the state and federal constitutions prohibit a trial court from setting bail in amounts that criminal defendants are unable to pay. We hope the Court will require lower courts to prevent incarceration of someone pending their trial simply because they can’t afford bail. 

 

 

 

EPIC News – October 2020

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Western Center’s Proposition Guide

With election day drawing near and Californians sending in ballots, we prepared a Proposition Guide to help you navigate complicated propositions on the 2020 ballot. Check out the full guide for a better understanding of Western Center’s position on each proposition.

Western Center policy advocate Jessica Bartholow wrote a blog post further explaining our YES position on Proposition 25 to end money bail.

And our staff attorney Helen Tran wrote a post explaining why she supports Proposition 16 to allow affirmative action in California, alongside Western Center and many other Asian Americans. “Many of us, including myself, were not of voting age in 1996 when Prop 209 was passed. Or, we might have voted for it without realizing its ramifications in the ensuing decades and during a global pandemic. We’ve arrived at a moment now and we should take it head on: vote Yes on Prop 16.”


Judge Denies Trump Administration’s Attempt to Take Food From Unemployed Adults

Over the weekend, a federal judge in the District of Columbia struck down an attempt by the Trump Administration to stop food benefits for nearly 700,000 people via changes to the SNAP Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (“ABAWD”) Time Limit rule. Western Center was part of the California team that submitted a brief which appears to have significantly shaped the judge’s decision. Read our joint statement about the rule and decision here. 


2020 California Legislative Roundup

In case you missed it, here’s Western Center’s roundup of the 2020 California Legislative session, which concluded on September 30th. The roundup includes our sponsored and co-sponsored bills that passed, and some we will bring back next year.

Because of COVID-19, the Legislature significantly narrowed the number of bills across issue areas this year, but we still saw important progress, including in the state budget — like the inclusion of immigrant ITIN tax filers in the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) program, and the restoration of CalWORKs assistance from 48 months to the full 60 months permitted under federal law, beginning in 2022.

EPIC News – September 2020


Western Center Bills Become Law

Several Western Center bills were signed into law this legislative session. While 2020 has been an unusual year, our advocates worked tirelessly to make sure Californians with low incomes are protected, both during the pandemic and after it’s over. Here are a few highlights:

  • SB 1065 (Hertzberg) to make specified changes to the CalWORKs Homeless Assistance Program. This bill is a favorite of public benefit legal services programs, and bookends about four years’ worth of legislation.
  • AB 2520 (Chiu) will increase access to public benefit programs by requiring doctors to complete forms and make it easier to obtain medical records for people in need of benefits programs. Watch Western Center health advocate Linda Nguy explain more here.
  • AB 2276 (Reyes) would implement the California Auditor’s recommendations to increase blood lead screenings for children on Medi-Cal, as already mandated, and would require the Department of Public Health to update risk factors for evaluating risk of lead poisoning.

The CROWN Act Goes to Washington

The CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, which Western Center originally co-sponsored in California last year to end workplace discrimination based on hair, is now a federal bill that has passed through the House of Representatives. You can learn more about the CROWN Act and the federal movement to end hair-based workplace discrimination in Vanity Fair, ELLE, and Cosmopolitan.


Garden Party in One Week!

Don’t forget to get your tickets for our 36th annual (and first virtual) Garden Party on Thursday, October 8th at 6pm PT, where we will feature a conversation between Steve Lopez, author and award-winning journalist from the Los Angeles Times, and Crystal Crawford, Western Center’s new Executive Director. We will also honor Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Brenda Shockley for her lifetime of work for equal justice as recipient of the Earl Johnson Equal Justice Award.

EPIC News – August 2020


It’s the last week of session in California, and we have a couple of Western Center sponsored bills that could use your support…

AB 826 – Emergency food assistance: COVID-19 (Santiago): Thousands of Californians are facing food insecurity in the wake of the pandemic. Assembly Bill 826 would provide Californians in need with emergency food aid, because there is no excuse for anyone in this state (the world’s 5th largest economy) to go without food.

TAKE ACTION: If you’re on social media, please use this toolkit to let legislators know we need AB 826. Phone calls and emails also work well!

SB 1399 Employment: garment manufacturing (Durazo): Tens of thousands of garment workers in Los Angeles are being paid less than half of the minimum wage. Popular fashion brands profit off low wages and wage theft with no accountability. SB 1399 would eliminate the specific system that allows California garment manufacturers to pay less than minimum wage.

TAKE ACTION: Visit this link to sign the petition in support of the bill.


One of our high priority bills, SB 1290 (Durazo, Mitchell) – to end the collection of juvenile fees in California for good, has already passed out of the Legislature and is on its way to the Governor for signature!

In other productive news, thanks to action from Western Center and our partners, the California Department of Health Care Services has committed to fixing an issue we identified over the past several months — Californians getting kicked off or downgraded from Medi-Cal during the pandemic. We believe this means that several thousand people should have seen their Medi-Cal restored by August 24th, and soon will receive a letter informing them of their rights to get reimbursed for out-of-pocket medical costs while their Medi-Cal was cut off. Even more beneficiaries will avoid cutoffs on September 1st and throughout the COVID emergency.


Finally, we hope you will mark your calendar to join us on Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 6:00 PM for our virtual Garden Party! Tune in for an in-depth interview with our new Executive Director, Crystal Crawford, and meet our special guests on the forefront of racial and economic justice in California.

EPIC News – July 2020


Orange County Releases Juvenile Fees

Last week, the Orange County Board of Supervisors released millions of dollars in juvenile fees, freeing thousands of families with low incomes (many of whom are Black and brown) from oppressive, regressive debt. This is a big win led by our grassroots partners, and we could not be more proud to be a part of this movement. The next step is the passage of our co-sponsored bill, SB 1290, to release juvenile fees across California for good.


The Push to Tax Billionaires

California gained 11 new billionaires since the pandemic began (there are currently 165 in the state), 154 of whom increased their wealth by 25% in the first few months of COVID, as 1 in 5 Californians lost their jobs. Meanwhile, the final state budget deal between the California Legislature and the governor includes significant cuts that will harm middle and low income communities.

Western Center is part of the growing Commit to Equity movement to compel state leaders to increase revenue by taxing extraordinary wealth in California. We are calling on state lawmakers to put money where their #CaliforniaForAll rhetoric is by taxing extreme wealth so we can achieve true economic and racial justice. Learn more and find out how to get involved at the Commit To Equity website.


Upholding Emergency Tenant Protections

At the beginning of July, Western Center and our partners at Public Counsel and Public Interest Law Project (PILP) filed a motion to intervene on behalf of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action (ACCE Action) and Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), in Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) v. City of Los Angeles, to defend the city’s emergency eviction and rent freeze protections. AAGLA’s lawsuit seeks to void the city’s emergency ordinances, which would allow mass evictions in the midst of a global pandemic. We are intervening so that doesn’t happen.

EPIC News – June 2020


Engaging in the Movement for Black Lives, and How it Relates to Western Center’s Work

We are encouraged that so many people are looking for ways to get involved in the movement for justice and Black lives. There’s a lot to do. Below we’ve put together a list of action items and resources that we hope will serve as a catalyst for you. We are all undergoing a fundamental shift – it is not a short game, but a long one.

In case you missed it, you can find Western Center’s statement recommitting ourselves to the work of ending systemic violence and oppression of Black people here.


First and foremost, as individuals and as part of communities and networks, contact your local officials to demand change. Specifically, we need a fundamental shift of resources away from police, and toward community investment. When Western Center does our work to alleviate poverty, we always look for resources to support overall community health. Redirecting police resources will not only increase safety for everyone, it will increase health as well. In that way, the redirection of police resources to qualified workers and community programs is a crucial part of advancing the work of Western Center.

Right now, police act as mental health workers, homeless outreach, and school guidance counselors (to name a few), and departments are being funded that way – to the detriment of community health. Rather than giving such substantial resources to police departments to do things they are not qualified to do, funding must be funneled instead to qualified workers, and to communities that have been disproportionately harmed by police. Los Angeles has already announced a reduction (albeit small) in police funding; it’s a good first step in the right direction. Here are resources with background explaining what is happening in the movement to redirect resources from police:

LA Times: “Mayor Eric Garcetti said he will direct $250 million to youth jobs, health initiatives and “peace centers” to heal trauma and will allow those who have suffered discrimination to collect damages. The money will have to be cut from other city operations; Garcetti, backed by City Council President Nury Martinez and his new Police Commission president, said as much as $150 million would come from the Los Angeles Police Department.”

NPR: “One of the problems that we’re encountering here is this massive expansion in the scope of policing over the last 40 years or so. Policing is now happening in our schools. It’s happening in relation to the problems of homelessness, untreated mental illness, youth violence and some things that we historically associate police with.”

If you are in Los Angeles, our partner, Youth Justice Coalition, has these specific asks:

  1. A permanent ban on the use of gang databases and all “data-driven” policing technologies and databases (or predictive policing).
  2. Destroy military-grade weapons and tools, end the use of drones.
  3. DO NOT EXPAND Community Policing Partnerships, and instead redirect 5% more of the budget to Peacebuilders (street interventionists).
  4. Support the demand to remove LAUSD PD from schools in LA and replace them with youth workers and cultural workers from local CBOs.

Another important call-to-action from our grassroots partners, in support of defunding police and prisons here in California, is to help pass Senate Bill 144 (Mitchell) – a priority for the Legislative Black Caucus, and a Western Center co-sponsored bill. We invite you to take action in support of SB 144 to end fees charged to people in the criminal justice system, which disproportionately saddle people of color and women with overwhelming debt. SB 144 is an important step toward taking money away from the criminal justice system and putting it back in the hands of people with low-incomes and communities of color.

  1. Contact your state legislator.
  2. Submit a letter of support! We make it easy right here.
  3. Help us shape policy by sharing your experience and ideas. Take our survey at tinyurl.com/finefeesurvey.
  4. Connect with the SB 144 coalition on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at CaDebtJustice and share your support using #DebtFreeJustice.

The Center for American Progress has an opportunity for action to demand that state attorney generals be empowered to investigate, litigate, and resolve police misconduct.

If you are an attorney, volunteer for client intake and clinics at your local legal aid and encourage colleagues to do the same. This means lending time and expertise to representing clients on day to day matters, not just impact cases. Legal aids can’t provide representation in most cases because they don’t have enough staff.

Make sure you are engaging in continued, probably uncomfortable dialogue with friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. Examine your workplace, culture, practices, and clients. Racism is baked into American law and culture; we need all hands on deck to heal. Are there ways in which Black people and other underserved groups are silenced in your workplace and communities? Even more challenging, but part of the work, are there clients you serve or businesses you patronize that perpetuate poverty and white supremacy? Can you reevaluate those relationships?

Here is a working document of detailed anti-racist resources to aid as background for those conversations.

Here is homework to absorb, let sink in, carry with you, share with others, and sear into your mind:

ReadWhite FragilityThe New Jim CrowThe Fire Next TimeThe 1619 ProjectThe Case for Reparations, Between the World and Me (here is the article adaptation, but not a replacement for the whole book), How to Be an AntiracistSo You Want to Talk About RaceThe Color of Law

Watch: 13th (currently free to watch), Just Mercy (currently free to watch), I Am Not Your NegroWhen They See Us

Listen1619Ear HustleCode Switch

MOREA Guide to White Privilege

EPIC News – May 2020


Bleak State Budget Depends on Federal Help

Governor Newsom issued the May Revision of the 2020-21 state budget. Western Center’s analysis is available here. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the outlook is bleak, but not necessarily dire. Ironically, the biggest cuts are aimed at health care – particularly Medi-Cal for our state’s elders. Much of what will happen depends on the federal government, and the passage of the HEROES Act in Congress.

To help, contact your Congressional Representatives to demand more support for states during this time.


More Juvenile Fees Released in California

San Diego County voted unanimously to discharge more than $40 million in old juvenile fees for roughly 9,100 families – many of whom live at or below the poverty line. Only 18 of California’s 58 counties continue to seek payment from vulnerable families, with Orange and Tulare remaining the top holdouts, collecting almost $50 million combined.

Senate Bill 190, which Western Center co-sponsored, went into effect on January 1, 2018, and prohibited counties from charging families new juvenile fees, but it did not require counties to end collection of previously assessed fees. Most counties voluntarily discharged old fees, and our coalition advocacy continues to push counties that held out after SB 190 to discharge as well. We are co-sponsoring a bill in the California Legislature this year, SB 1290, which seeks to eliminate juvenile fees once and for all across the state.


Western Center Sues USDA Over Emergency Food Benefits

Western Center and Impact Fund sued the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for denying the lowest income SNAP food benefit recipients in California emergency food benefits, which Congress authorized in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The suit seeks an immediate injunction of USDA’s SNAP emergency allotment guidance. Our press release containing the complaint is available here.

EPIC News – April 2020


Western Center Continues to Lead Advocacy Response for COVID-19 Emergency

April has been an intense and busy month for Western Center, as our advocates work to protect the needs of those most impacted by COVID-19 and the parallel economic crisis.

Yesterday, California households receiving SNAP food stamp benefits (CalFresh) gained the ability to purchase groceries online through a USDA pilot program, which is a result of Western Center’s sustained advocacy on the issue. We and our partners continue to push for further expansion of the program so that it reaches all Californians who need it, ensures diversity of purchase options, and protects consumer rights. We will also continue to support front-line delivery workers who deliver SNAP-purchased food to secure a living wage and worker safety.


Last Thursday, we sent a letter in partnership with Impact Fund to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue demanding that the Department rescind its guidance that denies emergency SNAP food benefits to those most in need. If necessary, we are prepared to take legal action to protect Californians from hunger during the COVID emergency, and to uphold the intent of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.


Also last week, Governor Newsom announced an executive order requiring the exemption of federal, state, or local government financial assistance from debt collection and garnishments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a result of our multi-year, successful advocacy efforts to prevent harmful debt-collection practices like wage garnishments and bank levies, and our coalition advocacy as a member and partner of the California Low-Income Consumer Coalition and California Asset Building Coalition.


Today (April 30th) at noon PDT, Western Center policy advocate Jessica Bartholow will be participating in a webinar hosted by the UC Student Association to discuss what can be done to ensure students’ basic needs are met in the wake of COVID-19. Registration is available here.


To stay current with Western Center news and updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Stay well, friends.

EPIC News – March 2020


Why Do We Work For a Strong Safety Net? Because of Times Like These.

COVID-19 has revealed how much we all rely on each other, and millions of Americans and Californians are stepping up to make sure others have what they need. Since our founding, Western Center has advocated for a strong social safety net. Our positions are often labeled progressive, but in this time of increased need, it has become clear that a strong safety net benefits everyone. What was deemed politically progressive months ago is now a new baseline for decent human society.

We are regularly updating our COVID-19 webpage with new information to help low-income Californians, and we are continuously working to make sure that the most vulnerable among us (a growing number) are protected.

In 2019, we advanced crucial legislation and litigation to position California to better serve people living in poverty – in good times and in hard times; our newly released annual report highlights those important victories. It is our intention that in this time of uncertainty, you can read our annual report and know that we are building on this work now more than ever, and we do not plan to stop.

Click below to read the full report.