in , ,

2020 Annual Report: Policy | Prosperity Now

2020 Annual Report: Policy | Prosperity Now from @prosperitynow
Tweet Quote

Advocacy for the CARES Act

As the COVID-19 crisis hit and the federal government began to react to impending economic fallout, the Policy Team published several blogs and advocated on multiple issues, including eliminating asset limits tied to stimulus payments, pushing for additional emergency funding for the VITA program to assist with remote tax filing, extending the tax filing deadline, expanding emergency savings supports for LMI households and supporting CDFIs that serve communities of color. The team also hosted a listening session with members of the Prosperity Now community to discuss initial policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis at the local, state and federal level.

Five Prosperity Now Policy Priorities for the COVID-19 Stimulus Package

In early 2020, the Policy Team outlined its priorities for the American Rescue stimulus bill package. The team worked with both Hill staffers and advocates to make the case for the following priorities in the subsequent bills that were deliberated by Congress:

  • Increasing funding for the VITA program for fiscal year 2021 so that funding is at the maximum allowable level of $30 million. Subsequently, this increase was secured when the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was passed in December 2020, and constituted a huge win for our VITA field.
  • Removing asset limits from public assistance programs (SNAP, TANF and LIHEAP) and increasing the asset limits for SSI by including the ASSET Act in any further stimulus measures.
  • Encouraging family savings for emergencies by adopting the bipartisan, bicameral Refund to Rainy Day Savings Act, which allows tax filers to defer 20% of their refunds for six months, receiving this portion with interest as an emergency savings boost later in the year.
  • Providing dedicated funding for CDFIs to target resources to underinvested communities—including by providing dedicated resources for Black-led/focused CDFIs to play a bigger role in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and to provide much-needed support to Black-owned businesses. Consequently, The Health Care Enhancement Act, passed in April 2020, set aside $60 billion in PPP assistance for issuance by community development lenders, credit unions and other small community lenders. Further wins for small and minority-owned businesses were secured in subsequent expansions of the PPP program later in 2020 and early 2021.
  • Extending housing-related protections in the COVID relief packages, such as mortgage forbearance and eviction protections, to manufactured homes. The CARES Act included these forbearance and eviction provisions and the Department of Treasury codified mortgage assistance for manufactured homeowners in the American Rescue Plan guidance. In addition, the PPP also included new funds made available for innovative CDFI housing and homeownership programs.

COVID-19 and Consumer Protections for Working Families

The Policy Team wrote a blog on steps that Congress, regulators and state attorneys general should take to help struggling families weather the current crisis in terms of managing their debts, avoiding predatory financial actors and safely accessing government supports and assistance.

The team also hosted a webinar in May that highlighted the impact of municipal fines and fees on the financial security of working families – particularly in communities of color in the South.  The insights were part of existing work on the topic, but also highlighted the consequences of COVID-19.

Advocacy for Small Businesses and Nonprofits Serving Vulnerable Communities

One of the first economic responses to the crisis by Congress was to assist small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, it quickly became apparent that the administration of the program was problematic as the funding was inadequate and not being directed to the neediest businesses. The Policy Team took the lead in detailing these problems and advocated for more targeted funding through CDFIs to ensure that small businesses in communities of color that have been most vulnerable were able to access the funding. Prosperity Now also helped found a new national coalition of organizations, Page 30, focused on this issue that helped to successfully push for the dedicated funding for CDFIs. The coalition has grown quickly and is continuing its push to fund these vulnerable communities and to improve the implementation of the PPP, working with stakeholders at the Treasury Department and SBA.

Pushing Back Against Regulatory Actions to Weaken Fair Housing and Community Investment

In the midst of the pandemic, HUD and several regulators continued their earlier work to weaken several key housing regulations that include the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing requirement of the Fair Housing Act and the Community Reinvestment Act. The Policy and Affordable Homeownership Teams pushed to raise awareness about this by publishing articles and sharing information with our broader network. We also submitted a comment letter on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule change to voice our concerns in the official public record.

Analyzing Policy Recommendations Contained in Start Us Up’s ‘America’s New Business Plan’

As part of a new grant from the Kauffman Foundation, members of the Policy and Affordable Housing Teams worked to identify policy recommendations that are best suited to help remove systemic barriers to entrepreneurship and to address the drivers of the racial wealth divide. In 2020, the teams analyzed at least six of the policies recommended in America’s New Business Plan—those within Pillars #2 and #4—applying a racial wealth equity lens to those policies, as measured by program records. They produced a summary of the racial wealth equity analysis of policies, identifying several to prioritize for future promotion.

The Policy Team Assessed Economic Inequality Within the Asian American Community

In 2020, Prosperity Now’s Policy Team produced a report on the Economic Inequality within the Asian American Community. This report explores the racial categorization of “Asian”, how that has transformed into the narrative of the “model minority” and how aggregated economic AAPI data obscures conceptions of economic inequality. Aggregated data supports a narrative that both ignores many members of the community and perpetuates the model minority myth—which too often is used to stymie systemic progress for other minority groups. The Prosperity Now team has identified the need for more disaggregated data to help provide more transparency and insight into the realities that Asian Americans face.

2021 Federal and State Policy Priorities Documents are Available

Towards the end of 2020, Prosperity Now’s Policy Team developed forward-thinking Federal Policy Priorities and a State Policy Priorities documents for 2021, in anticipation of the new administration’s inauguration. These two documents were unveiled during the Virtual Prosperity Summit on Nov. 16, 2020, and are published online.

Originally posted by Prosperity Now on 2021-09-28 19:00:00

Rep. Maxine Waters: Biden Admin Must End “Inhumane” Deportation & Whipping of Haitian Asylum Seekers 17

Rep. Maxine Waters: Biden Admin Must End “Inhumane” Deportation & Whipping of Haitian Asylum Seekers

Debunking Jimmy Dore "DoreKnobs": A Teachable Moment | Tim Black 18

Debunking Jimmy Dore "DoreKnobs": A Teachable Moment | Tim Black