The policy team has been busy this spring, with visits to Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, educating policymakers (and even educating ourselves) on a bevy of economic and community development issues.
These efforts are critical given that household financial health and racial economic inequality have seen little improvement this year. According to the 2019 Prosperity Now Scorecard, 40% of American households lack a basic level of savings and a major wealth gap exists between black and Latino households and their white counterparts.
Gabriel, our Policy Advocate, and members of the California Reinvestment Coalition with Representative Katie Porter (CA-45), Washington, D.C.
In March, we visited congressional and regulatory offices in Washington, D.C. to advocate for the following:
- Increasing the CDFI Fund budget for FY2020 – the CDFI Fund provides funding for organizations, like ours, to continue their important work in low-to-moderate income communities; in FY2019, the fund received $250 million in allocations, an increase of $50 million in FY2020 is the minimum needed to maximize the impact of CDFIs
- Extending the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program – NMTC incentivizes investors with tax credits to provide funding for development projects in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods; historically, NMTC has been extended annually, but the program is set to expire at the end of this year
- Forming a federal small business truth-in-lending act (or TILA) modelled after the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights – protections for business owners are lacking, and predatory lending practices continue to be widespread; as a founding member of the Responsible Business Lending Coalition, we spoke to staffers about the importance of clear rate and fee disclosures, accountable underwriting, fair collection practices, and other responsible lending measures
Gabriel and Erin along with representatives from other CDFIs at Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office, Washington, D.C.
Back in California, we travelled to Sacramento for a hearing on AB-474, a bill that seeks to move CalCAP, California’s loan loss reserve program for small business, to the Governor’s Office of Business and Development (or GO-Biz). Relocating the program would provide participating lenders confidence in expanding their lending to more small businesses across California.
Gwendy, our Vice President of Policy and Research, testified and affirmed our support for the measure, “With an exclusive focus on small business issues, they [GO-Biz] have the expertise and commitment necessary to ensure this program’s future success on behalf of underserved California small businesses.”
Gabriel and Erin at the Latino Policy Summit, Sacramento.
In Sacramento, we also attended the Latino Community Foundation’s Latino Policy Summit where we met and spoke with folks engaged in policy, advocacy, and non-profit work on behalf of the Latino community. We learned about the importance of representation in the upcoming census, discussed how the Latino community can and should voice their concerns and priorities to policymakers, and listened to inspiring stories from today’s Latino leaders.
All in all, our trips to Sacramento and D.C. were enthralling and impactful. We were able to engage policymakers in thoughtful discussion, advocate for sensible and effective legislation, and gain deeper insight into many pertinent issues concerning our communities.
As the year progresses and as we move towards our five-year strategic plan, we’ll continue to remain focused on educating state and federal policymakers and advocating for solutions that support a more inclusive financial system.
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