Loading...

Panelists Call for Inclusion and Accessibility to Fix Broken Aid Systems

February 10, 2021 by Victoria Turner
Panelists Call for Inclusion and Accessibility to Fix Broken Aid Systems
Francis Stallings tapes signs to her car before participating in a caravan rally down the Las Vegas Strip in support of extending the $600 unemployment benefit, August 6, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Bridget Bennett/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

The novel coronavirus pandemic has exposed and aggravated long standing weaknesses in the nation’s housing assistance and unemployment insurance systems, safety nets intended to aid the most vulnerable communities, according to participants in an event sponsored by the New America Practice Lab.

During the event, which was held Tuesday, speakers called for simplifying the systems to make them accessible for all, educating communities on what aid is available to them and ensuring that the relief reaches the most vulnerable.

Tara McGuinness, fellow and senior adviser to the New America Practice Lab, pointed out that the Black, brown and Latino communities face more difficulty in receiving unemployment benefits “compared to their White counterparts.” 

White workers make up 78% of the unemployment insurance recipients, despite being only 50% of the unemployed workers. Black and Latino workers, on the other hand, make up 40% of those unemployed but receive less than 20% of jobless benefits.

A New America Lab research investigation on housing loss in the Sun Belt found three challenges in key “demographic variables” making it difficult for renters and homeowners seeking assistance: bad data, extreme inequities among those suffering housing loss and poor delivery of aid. 

According to the co-authors, those most affected are Black households, those without health insurance, those needing public transportation to commute to work and single-parent households.

Also, strict eligibility requirements and “extensive documentation,” frequently make housing aid inaccessible for the most vulnerable, with the co-authors noting especially deficient deployment of pandemic-related relief and lack of tenant education on available assistance.The authors proposed policy solutions that would simplify the application process, straight-to-tenant fund disbursement, bolstering tenant protections, and “robust outreach” to the at-risk communities.

Monee Fields-White, co-author and presenter of a second New America report entitled “Unpacking Inequities in Unemployment Insurance,” said that racial and economic disparities were built into the unemployment insurance system “from its inception” in 1935.

These disparities included the exclusion of agriculture and domestic workers, the vast majority of whom were Black. 

A series of “compounding inequities” has followed and continues to affect workers of color and lower-wage workers to this day. 

For instance, the report says, despite nationwide initiatives to upgrade computer systems across the board and moving all government services online, many unemployed workers looking for assistance have still encountered a number of “roadblocks” in applying – from websites crashing to many websites not being mobile-friendly. 

“It could be as simple as where you live,” Fields-White said, with Southern states usually having fewer benefits and stricter job-search requirements than other regions of the country. 

“Making the program available is 20% of the job to be done,” said Maurice Jones, president and CEO of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, during the panel discussion. The other 80% is to assist people in accessing the program, he said.

“What people need to do is be much more inclusive in the front-end,” he said.

Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, believes there is a need to “build some degree of federalization” into the system, as many who received pandemic-related aid did not even qualify for jobless benefits in many states. 

She feels that unemployment insurance “[destroys] communities” if improperly implemented. 

This disconnect between the systems and the communities they are supposed to serve was also present in the “pre-existing housing crises,” said Rebecca Yae, senior research analyst at the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

She pointed out that the first pandemic relief package, passed by Congress last March, did not include funding for rental or housing aid.

The panelists said they hope that President Biden’s focus on improving existing programs and implementing new ones “places attention on reaching people,” with McGuinness noting that Biden had previously seen “the distance” it took for a law to become implemented after being passed.

In The News

Health

Voting

Think Tanks

July 27, 2022
by Kate Michael
Former Defense Secretary Esper Claims ‘One China a Complete Fallacy’

WASHINGTON — Fresh from a transatlantic delegation visit to Taiwan on behalf of the Atlantic Council and under the auspices... Read More

WASHINGTON — Fresh from a transatlantic delegation visit to Taiwan on behalf of the Atlantic Council and under the auspices of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is “increasingly worried about Chinese actions” and convinced that China may... Read More

June 23, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
Reigniting Democracy Using the Internet

WASHINGTON — Laughter rang out at the Brookings Institution when an audience question came to two White House staffers: “Was... Read More

WASHINGTON — Laughter rang out at the Brookings Institution when an audience question came to two White House staffers: “Was the internet a mistake?” The question came about a half hour into a discussion about how the U.S. is inspiring a global effort to reignite the... Read More

June 13, 2022
by Eden Metzger
Study Suggests America’s Primary Election System Ripe for Reform

WASHINGTON — Political primaries are not mentioned in the Constitution of the United States, but it’s highly likely the founding... Read More

WASHINGTON — Political primaries are not mentioned in the Constitution of the United States, but it’s highly likely the founding fathers would have rejected them outright had anyone thought to suggest them at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Primaries came into being as a... Read More

May 25, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
USDA Steps Up Efforts to Restock Baby Formula for WIC Beneficiaries

WASHINGTON — Many Americans desperately seeking baby formula have experienced empty shelves over the last few months. Now the U.S.... Read More

WASHINGTON — Many Americans desperately seeking baby formula have experienced empty shelves over the last few months. Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture is increasing efforts to restock those shelves, especially for low-income families where the impact of the shortage has been most severe. “It goes... Read More

May 16, 2022
by Kate Michael
Countries Negotiating First Legally Binding Global Agreement to End Plastic Pollution

WASHINGTON — Countries have been negotiating limits on plastic use for years, but China’s 2018 announcement that it would stop... Read More

WASHINGTON — Countries have been negotiating limits on plastic use for years, but China’s 2018 announcement that it would stop accepting 24 kinds of plastic scrap import waste from foreign countries was undoubtedly a spark that ignited 175 countries of the United Nations to pass a... Read More

May 13, 2022
by Kate Michael
Consensus, Sabotage Spoiling WTO According to Former Director

WASHINGTON — As the World Trade Organization plans to convene in Geneva next month for its 12th ministerial conference, top... Read More

WASHINGTON — As the World Trade Organization plans to convene in Geneva next month for its 12th ministerial conference, top officials — including the WTO’s last director — wonder if this conference will be a “make or break" moment for the only global international organization that... Read More

News From The Well