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US Water Alliance;
Access to water and sanitation services should not hinge on background, geography, or how much money someone makes—but it often does. Studies show that between 2012 and 2019, local water bills increased 31 percent nationally, far outpacing inflation and the consumer price index. Historical declines in federal support for water infrastructure have made this trend even worse. Local officials and water utility leaders have had no choice but to raise local water and sewer rates to pay for the needed operation, capital, and maintenance costs. Without federal and state support, local water and wastewater rates have increasingly become unaffordable for millions of Americans, and utilities have operated with outdated billing systems and often struggled to enroll low-income residents into the modest assistance available.Financial stress incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis has brought water affordability into sharp focus, and innovators have been seeking solutions to meet their communities' rising needs. The water and wastewater utilities in Louisville, Kentucky, provide one such case. Louisville shows how new, smarter solutions to bill relief are helping people in need while improving the utility-customer relationship by balancing care, bill assistance, and debt relief with needed revenue stability to maintain essential water systems. This case study explores key facets of the challenge, what Louisville achieved for its residents, and how the city's approach provides a model for other utilities to consider as they move forward. Sections discuss: How traditional customer assistance efforts have failed to meet customer needs, struggled with enrollment, and overlooked their fundamental purpose of guarding against revenue instability.What a modern, user-friendly approach to bill assistance looks like and how, combined with compassionate messaging, it can shift utility-customer payment and service relationship for the better.Why establishing innovative bill assistance options is especially wise given current and future federal funding opportunities to provide debt relief.Longer-term actions the federal government should prioritize to make safe, reliable water and wastewater service affordable for all.
Food Research & Action Center (FRAC);
This report sheds light on why many immigrant families are forgoing vital assistance from federal nutrition and food programs and lifts up recommendations aimed at ensuring that all families and individuals, regardless of immigration status, are nourished and healthy.While the findings of this report are informed by a series of focus groups conducted from November 2019 to January 2020 (prior to the onset of COVID-19), the need to connect immigrant families to nutrition programs is arguably of even greater importance given how COVID-19 is fueling unprecedented food insecurity and ravaging communities of color and immigrant communities at disproportionately high rates due to unique barriers faced by families that include noncitizens.
Annie E. Casey Foundation;
This brief highlights historical federal child welfare policy achievements and urges Congress to champion new reforms to eliminate harmful disparities that persist for youth of color and promote long-lasting benefits for all young people in and transitioning from foster care. There is urgency and an opportunity for Congress to lead reforms and build on the important, but temporary, changes mandated by the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, philanthropic entities across the US embraced giving directly—transferring cash to people—as an effective and efficient means of providing relief to those hit hard by the sudden economic and health emergency. Since the onset of the pandemic and in partnership with donors, nonprofit organizations, and local government agencies, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has facilitated the administration of approximately $26 million in funds, distributed in increments of $50 to $2,500 to approximately 60,000 residents across the Greater Washington, DC, region. This report describes the goals, strategies, and short-term achievements of the foundation and its partners in developing and implementing cash transfer strategies at the height of the pandemic. Closer examination of the foundation's role provides insight for private donors, government agencies, and nonprofits into how partnership with local philanthropy can help them deliver a speedy and equitable response to populations hit hardest by a crisis.
Many immigrant families have avoided safety net and pandemic relief programs in recent years over concerns that their participation would have adverse immigration consequences. These chilling effects on program participation occurred in the context of a restrictive immigration policy environment under the Trump administration, including the expansion of the "public charge" rule. Though the Biden administration has reverted to prior guidance on the public charge rule and reversed many other immigration policy changes, chilling effects may continue to deter adults in immigrant families from seeking safety net supports for which they or their children are eligible.This study draws on Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey data collected in December 2020 and interviews conducted with adults in immigrant families and people who work at organizations that connect immigrant families to health, nutrition, and other support programs in California. The interviews were conducted between March and May 2021, in the early months of the Biden administration, offering unique insights as policy priorities were shifting.
Carsey School of Public Policy at The University of New Hampshire;
When low-income residents struggle to make ends meet, non-profit social service agencies can help fill the gaps. In doing so, these agencies must find sufficient funding, retain qualified staff, and craft efficient service delivery mechanisms that are respectful of clients and communities. Some of the challenges that service providers encounter are exacerbated by rural characteristics, such as vast geographic distances and the lack of economies of scale. Yet in some ways rurality is beneficial, as small communities can facilitate community engagement and providers can engage natural supports in their service delivery work.
Ascendium details how colleges have learned to probe for the underlying issues that contribute to financial emergencies, and are connecting students to community agencies as well as offering enhanced campus resources.While the report offers many lessons learned and insights, three key messages prevail:Colleges created an institutional culture where students feel safe asking for help.Colleges are more aware of students' holistic needs.Emergency aid is a vital retention tool.For many low-income students, an unforeseen car repair or medical bill can mean the end of their college hopes. While typically not large expenses, they can be enough to force these students into a tough choice: stay in college or pay the bill. Since its inception, Ascendium's Dash Emergency Grant Program has helped more than 100 two- and four-year colleges throughout the U.S. implement emergency grant programs on their own campuses.
Ascendium Education Group (formerly known as Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates) has invested heavily to advance postsecondary success for low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students. Since 2012, Ascendium has awarded over $10.2 million in Dash Emergency Grants to 63 two- and four-year institutions. Through Dash, colleges administer emergency aid (EA) grants to meet students' unanticipated expenses so that more of these students stay on track for completion. These small grants, often $500 or less, can make the difference in whether a student is able to remain in school. Ascendium contracted with Equal Measure in late 2017 to create a set of tools to help the field codify the process of awarding emergency aid. Emergency Aid for Higher Education: A Toolkit and Resource Guide for DecisionMakers is the result of more than 10 months of research, interviews, focus groups, and webinars with Dash Emergency Grant recipients that elucidated current best practices, and gaps, in administering EA programs.
National Conference of State Legislatures;
Across the country, businesses striving to fill their workforce needs are turning to hard-toemploy and chronically underemployed parents. Business and government leaders face aging demographics, slow population growth, low unemployment rates and industry-specific workforce shortages as they attempt to increase, or at least sustain, economic growth and competitiveness. States are intensifying efforts to connect industry's workforce needs with available workers to get more people on a sustainable career path, leading to a stronger economy."Benefits cliffs"—or "the cliff effect"—are a hurdle for businesses and workers alike. The cliff effect refers to the sudden and often unexpected decrease in public benefits that can occur with a small increase in earnings. When income increases, families sometimes lose some or all economic supports. These can include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), school nutrition programs, health care, child care assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and housing. Often, wage increases result in a net loss of income or only a small overall increase. Sometimes the cliff effect looks more like a slope or plateau, but it is still a disincentive to work. When lost benefits outpace a wage increase, many families "park" or fall off the cliff's edge, stalling progression in their jobs and careers.
Picture the Homeless;
This report is the product of a year-long investigation by Picture the Homeless's research committee into the fiscal policies and priorities that influence the lives of homeless New Yorkers. As the city's homeless shelter census has grown to a record high of over 60,000 people, the city has also seen its spending on shelter increase to an all-time high of over $1.8 billion, with an additional $650 million in capital funding allocated to upgrade and expand the shelter system in the next 10 years. By failing to create new units... the city is ensuring that shelter entry will continue at pace for the foreseeable future.
Heartland Alliance Policy And Advocacy;
March 23, 2018 marks 8 years since the Affordable Care Act has been enacted. This healthcare programs has brought affordable and quality care to millions, including over 1 million Illinoisans. View our infographic to see the impact of the ACA in Illinois and to celebrate another year of healthcare access for millions, including those that Heartland Alliance serves in Illinois and across the nation.