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Working Together: The Community Action BLOG


Following last week’s announcement from the US Department of the Treasury that as many as four million Americans will now receive their Economic Impact Payment (EIP) via prepaid debit card, the IRS is following up to let recipients know that these cards will arrive via US Mail in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.”

Last Tuesday our efforts provided more than 4,100 meals to 345 Head Start children. And, in addition to food and educational materials, Head Start staff passed out a multitude of essential home care items to families including toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, shampoo and conditioner, feminine hygiene products, as well as additional food items donated by a local food shelf.

As the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has increased crisis funding and extended the current heating season to July 2, 2020, enabling even more Minnesota families to apply for assistance.

In the May 6, 2020, installment we discussed the USDA’s recent approval to allow the State of Minnesota’s SNAP recipients to use their EBT cards to buy groceries online and have them delivered directly to their homes . . . The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is pleased to announce that these services are scheduled to go online starting next week at two statewide retailers: Amazon (May 27) and Walmart (May 28).

In order to more efficiently and securely expedite stimulus payments to eligible Americans, the IRS and the US Department of the Treasury will begin to issue approximately 4 million Economic Impact Payments (EIP) via pre-paid debit cards.

As the IRS continues to process and disburse Economic Impact Payments to eligible Americans as part of the CARES Act, it announced yesterday that they are adding as many as 3,500 telephone representatives to answer basic questions about these stimulus payments.  

Beginning in March, in order to meet the nutritional needs of our Head Start children, Community Action set up food distribution sites at three of its Head Start Centers in St. Paul.

Locally, in response to the array of challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Community Action has adopted new approaches and innovative tools to serve the critical needs of low-income individuals and families. And yet, there will undoubtedly be more hurdles ahead as we attempt to navigate the unpredictable and turbulent waters of these unprecedented times.

Recent data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey highlights the substantial technological disparities that currently exist between Minnesota households earning less than $35,000 per year as compared to those making more money.

Prior to the onset of COVID-19, as the nation witnessed historic lows in unemployment, African American and Native American workers were more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white individuals. In Minnesota, those disparities were even more pronounced and have been further exacerbated by the current crisis.

The impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has already wrought on the United States economy—with the possible exception of the Great Depression—is unprecedented.

The IRS has set the deadline for Americans to enter their direct deposit information for this Wednesday, May 13, 2020, by 12:00 pm Eastern Time.

This past month Governor Tim Walz established the Community Resiliency and Recovery Work Group, to be co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan and Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero.

Tomorrow, May 8, 2020, will conclude #GiveAtHomeMN Week, a virtual fundraising initiative established by our friends at GiveMN.org to rally around and support the Minnesota’s nonprofit community, our schools, and the residents that they dutifully serve year-round.

The USDA has approved Minnesota’s request to allow the state’s SNAP recipients to use their benefits to buy groceries online and have them delivered to their homes. This is a significant step in helping nearly 400,000 more Minnesota residents reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Today, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, is National Teacher’s Day. So, in honor of our Head Start/Early Head Start teachers, staff, and volunteers who continue to serve more than 1,200 children and their families during the COVID-19 crisis through innovative tools and strategies—We say Happy Teacher’s Day and thank you for all that you do!

May 1 through May 8, 2020 is #GiveAtHomeMN Week, a virtual fundraising event designed by GiveMN.org to support Minnesota nonprofit agencies, schools, and all those that they serve during the COVID-19 pandemic.

May is National Community Action Month, which is designed to highlight the stories, successes, and indelible impact of the Community Action Movement.

A mother of two, Nalie shares with her young children the importance of giving back, and together, the three of them have volunteered to put summertime learning kits together for Head Start students. “I want my kids to see the positive impact they can make in the world."

On February 24, 2020, the United States Department of Homeland Security updated the “public charge” rule, a change that directly affects immigrants applying for either visas or green cards from within the country. This is a complicated rule and can potentially affect the immigration status of those that use government programs . . .

As part of its recent initiative, the “Plus $500 Push,” the IRS has announced that those individuals receiving Veteran’s benefits (VA) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and who did not file a federal tax return for 2018 or 2019, have until next Tuesday, May 5, 2020, to register their qualifying children (defined as a dependent under the age of 17 with a social security number) for an additional $500 (per child) to be added to their Economic Impact Payment. 

The Minnesota Children’s Cabinet has created a comprehensive resource guide for questions, contacts information, and support in several critical areas that include: health coverage, housing, economic assistance, childcare, mental health needs, food supports, utilities, worker protections, support for college students, small business support, as well as additional family supports and resources related to COVID-19.

In order to clear up any confusion as to who should use the Non-Filers portal to ensure that they receive their Economic Impact Payment, the IRIS has provided information on who should use it. 

Recent news reports indicate there is still confusion over who is entitled to an Economic Impact Payment. Last week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) disbursed funds to 80 million people through direct deposits. Still, tens of millions more eligible Americans have yet to receive their money.

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection is reminding all Americans how to identify and report phishing and other scams related to your Economic Impact Payment. According to the FTC the following guidelines will help you to avoid becoming the victim of fraud

The IRS announced that there is a limited window for those who receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI),  Social Security (SSA), and Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB) who did NOT file a tax return in either 2018 or 2019 to register their dependent children so that they may receive the full amount of their Economic Impact Payments.

Millions of people are now receiving their Economic Impact Payments from the federal government. For most Americans, no further action is required. Still, there is a great deal of misinformation that is being spread online via social media and word of mouth.

Kathleen, like many seniors, faces many financial obstacles. Community Action's Energy Assistance program makes sure staying safe and warm is not one of them.

Because low-income families are more vulnerable than ever in these unprecedented times, it's more vital than ever that Community Action finds innovative ways to continue to provide our programs and services even in the age of social distancing.

The 40th president of the United States, the late Ronald Reagan, once famously said, “Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.” That’s a wonderful sentiment and one that I suppose many, regardless of their political leanings, would likely get behind...

Among the most common talking points during this current election season is the need to remedy the rampant economic inequality that continues to plague our country. Just last fall, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Community Survey revealed that America’s wealth gap was now wider than it has been at any point since 1969...

When it comes to the subject of health care, a common refrain from American families nowadays is, “Every year we pay more and more for insurance and yet somehow receive less in terms of coverage and benefits..."

This special installment of The Anti-Poverty Solider features an interview with it’s author with Dr. Clarence Hightower conducted by Minnesota Spokeman-Recorder contributing writer Dwight Hobbes.

n 2015 the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment published a ground-breaking study on the phenomenon of “urban heat islands” in the Minneapolis – St. Paul metropolitan area. The findings of this research revealed that temperatures in some local neighborhoods can rise significantly higher than others during the summer months. In fact, during the historic Upper Midwest heat wave in July of 2012, temperature differentials were nearly 10 degrees higher in certain areas of the Twin Cities as compared to others...

Just this last December, thousands of people in dozens of cities across the globe gathered together for the “World’s Big Sleep Out.” The participants of this event purposely slept outside in the cold in an attempt to increase the amount of attention that societies pay to the crisis of homelessness...

As I recently reflected on some of the topics this column covered in the past year, I was immediately reminded of the flagrant discrimination and disparities that persist around housing both here in the Twin Cities and throughout the rest of America...

Earlier this year the federal government bandied about a proposal that would, in effect, lower the federal poverty threshold. According to both the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP), these suggested changes to how we measure poverty in this nation would have “endangered millions” of people...

In the essay, “Fifth Avenue, Uptown”—which depicts everyday life in Civil Rights era Harlem, a full four years prior to the riot that engulfed New York City’s “Black mecca” in July of 1964—Baldwin famously wrote that “Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor" . . .

Starting back in 2015, 24/7 Wall Street, an online financial news organization, began publishing an annual study that identified “the worst states for Black Americans” to live. For three consecutive years Minnesota finished second only to Wisconsin for this particularly unflattering distinction . . .

In the summer of 2017, I used this column to embark on a six-part series inspired by a single quote. That quote came from noted historian Rutger C. Bregman, who, during a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talk declared, “Poverty isn’t a lack of character. It’s a lack of cash.”

Forty-six years ago this month, an oil embargo targeting the United States resulted in what is today remembered as the 1973 Oil Crisis.

In August of this year, The New York Times launched “The 1619 Project” marking the fourth centennial since the first documented slaves were captured and brought from modern-day Angola . . .

In response to the Supreme Court’s 1954 landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education—which partially overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and outlawed segregation in public schools . . .

As a native of the Mississippi River town of Alton, Illinois (birthplace of Miles Davis), I remember the City of St. Louis as being essentially a stone’s throw away from my childhood home.

On the heels of the previous Anti-Poverty Soldier column (August 15-21) — which highlighted the work of two Stanford University professors who revealed that America’s income and wealth disparities are only getting worse . . .

There has been a lot of talk these past couple years of America’s booming economy.

In the spring of 2018, a Minnesota man made quite a splash when he testified before State representatives that — in spite of being a millionaire — he was able to secure benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for well over a year.

On more than one occasion I’ve used this space to criticize the nation’s Federal Poverty Guidelines, which for all intents and purposes have essentially remained unchanged since they were established 55 years ago . . .

On the heels of the most recent “Anti-Poverty Soldier” piece (June 20, 2019) — about a Duke University study that chronicled the systematic plundering of more than $3 billion in wealth from Chicago’s African American homeowners from 1950 to 1970 . . .

In a recent installment of this column (March 28, 2019), I highlighted the Twin Cities Public Television documentary, Jim Crow of the North.

Our Impact This Year

  • People Who Received Energy Assistance

    55,886

  • Children Enrolled in Head Start & Early Head Start

    1,422

  • Low-Income People Registered to Vote

    1,320

  • Volunteer Hours

    31,317

© 2020 Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties

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