North Dakota Economic Security and Prosperity Alliance | Blog
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WEBINAR: Empowered Cities: Strategies to LEAD the Vision Forward to Financial Inclusion Join National Disability Institute and Citi Community Development on Tuesday, May 28 from 3-4 p.m. ET for a discussion on strategies municipalities and community-based organizations can take to LEAD the Vision Forward to Financial Inclusion. This webinar will highlight key strategies that include: Lead the Vision Forward Encourage and Convene Align and Coordinate Develop and Build Capacity and Sustainability This webinar will provide participants with an overview of action steps, tools, and resources to assist municipalities and community-based organizations to take action in building financial inclusion for people with disabilities. This webinar will feature: Moderator/Presenter: Michael Roush, M.A., Director, Real Economic Impact Network, NDI Presenter: Tina Lentz, Former Executive Administrator, Office of Resilience & Community Services, Office of Financial Empowerment, City of Louisville Webinar outline: 3:00 PM to 3:05 PM Welcome and Housekeeping 3:05 PM to 3:10 PM Overview of NDI and Empowered Cities 3:10 PM to 3:35 PM Overview of strategies (LEAD) and action steps for each 3:35 PM to 3:45 PM Overview of tools and resources to assist groups to follow the LEAD strategies 3:45 PM to 3:55 PM Questions and Answers 3:55 PM to 4:00 PM Closing Please note: Real-time captioning will be provided for this webinar series. For other accommodation requests, questions about the webinar or the registration process, please contact Al Milioto at amilioto@ndi-inc.org. REGISTER WEBINAR ARCHIVE NOW AVAILABLE: Innovative Practices to Build Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities Empowered Cities is a partnership between Citi Community Development (CCD) and National Disability Institute (NDI) that will engage municipalities and community partners across the U.S. to design, test and deliver innovative and scalable solutions for expanding financial empowerment and financial inclusion in the disability community. Received this email from a friend? Sign up for news from Empowered Cities! Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list. View this email in your browser....

Struggling Workers and Families Deserve Food Tell the Trump Administration: Hands Off SNAP! Leave a Comment by April 2nd Food assistance is under attack—again. If the Trump Administration has its way, 755,000 very poor people could lose SNAP benefits. These are working age people without dependents. Under current law, these individuals are subject to the harsh time limit of only three months of assistance every three years if they cannot document enough work hours. However, states can waive this time limit for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, popularly known as food stamps) if unemployment is high in parts or all of the state. In fact, every state but Delaware has asked for a version of these waivers over the past twenty years. But the Trump Administration has been fighting to make it harder for states to give struggling workers a break. Congress doesn’t agree: it just passed a farm bill rejecting the harsher time limit and the President signed it. Now the Administration is trying to go around Congress by forcing these rigid time limits through a rule change, circumventing Congress altogether. But they cannot implement their proposed rule without first taking into account the public comments the law requires it to seek.                That’s why we need your help. The Coalition on Human Needs’ members at the Center for American Progress, Feeding America, and FRAC have each created sample comments against this unfair rule change. Your comment, either on behalf of your organization or as an individual, can make a big difference. The government is compelled to take every unique comment under consideration when assessing a rule change like this; the more comments, the more roadblocks to slow or stop harmful changes. (Note: “unique” is understood to mean that about 30 percent of the comment’s text is different from other submissions.) Furthermore, judges deciding cases challenging such rule changes can refer to these comments in their own rulings. Here’s how to take action: 1. Organizations: Use FRAC's...

The government shutdown could slow down the tax-filing process this year. (przemekklos/Twenty20) January 8, 2019 BELCOURT, N.D. — Tax season is approaching, and some North Dakotans qualify for free assistance with preparing their federal income returns. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, program offers tax aid to people who generally make $54,000 a year or less, have disabilities or limited English-language skills. Rhonda Belgarde-Baker, tribal advocate paralegal with Legal Services of North Dakota, which is partnering with the IRS to provide this program, said people seek assistance for many reasons. She said for some clients it's their first time filing. Others owe a debt and are afraid to file. "We come across many different examples of why, perhaps, they haven't filed or why they need to file,” Belgarde-Baker said. “So that's one thing that we work really hard on is to educate them and to make sure that the IRS isn't scary." Belgarde-Baker said Legal Services is providing VITA sites on Native American reservations in the state, where there's a big need for free aid. VITA locations, as well as Tax Counseling for the Elderly program sites generally operated by AARP, can be found on the IRS's website. Belgarde-Baker noted the government shutdown could slow down filings this year. She said her organization's goal isn't just to help with returns, but to educate people on their taxes. VITA clinics are certified through the IRS each year on tax laws and changes to the tax code. Belgarde-Baker also noted Legal Services is looking for volunteers. She said volunteers make a real difference in people’s lives when they help out. "We're educating you - you will get trained like we do and get certified - but you're also helping build a better community and volunteering and being able to provide such a wonderful service,” she said. She added that North Dakotans claiming children under the Earned Income Tax Credit should expect a delay in getting their refunds back. Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND ...

New Policy Brief: Consumer Protections Are Under Threat Now More Than Ever   Prosperity Now just released Consumers Need Protection from Predatory Financial Products and Services, a policy brief that discusses current and forthcoming threats to consumer protections and what steps you can take now to push back against them.   Accompanying this policy brief is a blog highlighting the key components of the brief that also provides two easy ways that advocates need to get involved right now. Check out the blog and brief below. Blog: Consumer Protections Are Under Threat Now More Than Ever Policy Brief: Consumers Need Protection from Predatory Financial Products and Services  Action: Share this brief with your network and take two minutes to call oremail your Members of Congress and ask them to put consumers first! Household financial security relies on strong consumer protections. Without them, high-cost predatory financial products and services tend to flourish, draining wealth from the pockets of hard-working families. Unfortunately, for the last two years a number of steps were taken to weaken these protections, and there’s more to come unless we pushback.   For more information, please email Anju Chopra at achopra@prosperitynow.org.     1200 G Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005 HOME | BLOG | ABOUT | RESOURCES   Copyright © 2017 Prosperity Now, All rights reserved. ...

POVERTY SIMULATION North Dakota State hosted a poverty simulation Tuesday, Oct. 2 in the Great Plains Ballroom. The students and faculty were able to get a glimpse of how a family living in poverty is able to navigate their economic issues. Approximately 70 students and faculty members participated in the poverty simulation. The participants were grouped together in families and role-played the lives of individuals who live in poverty. The participants were tasked with providing food, shelter and other basic necessities while dealing with different institutions. There were different challenges built into the simulation to make it more realistic. Tayler Morris, who was one of the facilitators last year, said they simulate a month in poverty in four 15-minute weeks. The students and faculty members have to survive poverty by doing what they were required to do as a family. According to Morris, only one or two families survive. The families that are put together are based on real families. The resources available and their income are based on average low-income families. Participants were put into situations that often contribute to families living in poverty, such as being elderly, a single parent or not having a job. “The point is to simulate what poverty looks like, the chaos, and the means these people have to go through to try to survive a month,” Morris said. According to Morris, after going through the simulation, participants had a better understanding of what it’s like to be a low-income parent and having to figure how to get your kids to school on time, go to work and at the same time make sure bills such as rent, mortgage and utilities are paid on time. The simulation facilitator also went around with “luck of the draw” situations for participants. This represented unexpected situations that everyone goes through in life, but because money and time were extra resources and constraints, participants learned they become difficult. The goal of the poverty simulation is to make participants realize the...

September 27, 2018 by Lesley Fair Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education If you took out an online payday loan from a company affiliated with AMG Services, you may be getting a check in the mail from the FTC. The $505 million the FTC is returning to consumers makes this the largest refund program the agency has ever administered. The FTC sued AMG and Scott A. Tucker for deceptive payday lending. When consumers took out loans, AMG said they would charge a one-time finance fee. Instead, AMG made multiple illegal withdrawals from peoples’ bank accounts and charged hidden fees. As a result, people paid far more for the loans than they had agreed to. In 2016 the FTC won a court case against AMG and Scott Tucker. Then in 2017, a jury convicted Tucker and his attorney of crimes related to the lending scheme. The FTC and Department of Justice are using money obtained in both court actions to give refunds to consumers. Here are answers to questions about AMG refunds. Who will get a refund? Checks are being sent to consumers who took out loans between January 2008 and January 2013 from these AMG-related companies: 500FastCash, Advantage Cash Services, Ameriloan, OneClickCash, Star Cash Processing, UnitedCashLoans, and USFastCash. How many people will get refunds? More than 1.1 million people will get refunds. How does the FTC know who to send the checks to? The FTC and a refund administrator have used AMG’s business records to identify eligible consumers and calculate their refunds. I’m eligible for a refund. What do I need to do? If you borrowed from one of the lenders listed above between January 2008 and January 2013, you don’t need to do anything. The checks are being mailed to eligible consumers automatically. There is no application process. If you borrowed from one of those lenders before January 2008, please call 1-866-730-8147. How can I get more information? Visit the FTC’s AMG refund page or call 1-866-730-8147. Three tips from the FTC: ...

Farm Bill impacts everyone in North Dakota, including our children Lisa K. Dullum, West Fargo SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as food stamps, is the front line defense against hunger and food insecurity and is part of the Farm Bill. At this time, the Senate and the House of Representatives each have passed a different version of the Farm Bill. The U.S. House of Representatives’ version includes changes to SNAP that could result in more than 1.2 million people, including children, losing access to critical food assistance each month. Worse yet, it takes money away from food and families to create a new bureaucracy and increase paperwork requirements. And it would place unfunded mandates on state government agencies at a time when states like North Dakota can least afford it. Nearly half of North Dakota’s 53,269 SNAP recipients are children. SNAP kept 6,000 North Dakota children out of poverty in each year between 2009 and 2012. By providing much needed economic support, SNAP allows families to have sufficient nutrition during times of unemployment, fluctuating incomes, and low-wage work. Under the language in the House Farm Bill, children in households losing SNAP eligibility might also lose access to free lunch and breakfast at school. Taken together, it will mean more children going without meals at home and at school. As an educator, I know that coming to school hungry is one of the most serious roadblocks to successful learning. And children whose families don’t have basic food security are much more likely to face other problems at school and are less likely to grow up to become healthy contributing members to society.   I urge Congressman Kevin Cramer to support a Farm Bill in conference committee that looks more like the Senate’s bipartisan version that supports and strengthens SNAP. Our children and our future are counting on you....