A new report, Community Organizing As Job Creator: An Investment That Works For All, is the first ever using economic theory and government formulas to evaluate community organizing and its effectiveness as jobs creator and economic stimulus. It details five organizing case studies and lists 44 successful community campaigns, including organizing in Missouri and Hawaii that led to substantially more jobs for minorities and a dramatic drop in home foreclosures. Over the last five years, Gamaliel’s network of 60 affiliates has delivered hundreds of thousands of jobs through ballot initiatives, legislation for increased funding of state and city transit, workforce training programs, increased education funding and state budget reforms.
Economic Justice (Research)
Through a series of focus groups in key cities with Occupy participants and other activists aged 18-30, the Applied Research Center today released findings on young people’s motivations for engaging in activism, concerns about electoral politics, and thoughts on the extent to which race and racism should be an explicit part of current struggles for economic justice. The report also provides recommendations on key ways to engage millennials of all races/ethnicities in social justice work. An accompanying article on young progressives was published by ARC President and Colorlines Publisher Rinku Sen, and an informational webinar will be presented to coincide with the release. "From a researcher's perspective, it was a dream to hear from some of the most engaged progressive young people in the country," said report author and ARC Research Director Dominique Apollon. "And to provide a forum for them to express themselves freely, in ways that we hope readers of all ages and races will appreciate." In ARC’s report Millennials, Activism and Race, results show that the most significant influence for young progressives to engage in social justice work is their own personal and family experience, particularly for young people of color. In discussing what makes an ideal society, there were varied descriptions, but all agreed that it is one based on community and cooperation -- and that primary barriers include: (1) a dominant ideology based on individualism (especially economic), which too often causes people to be left to fend for themselves, without sufficient public resources and supports, and (2) a general lack of awareness of histories of oppression with political and economic analyses, that the general public doesn't have an analytic framework to critique our political and economic system. Additionally, Occupy protesters were more explicitly anti-capitalism, and more profoundly disillusioned by the electoral process than social justice advocates who had not participated in the Occupy movement.
We are excited to release our People Powered Solutions for Neighborhood Jobs & the Local Economy. Based on in-depth, face-to-face conversations and planning sessions in Spanish, Tagalog, Cantonese, and English with over 220 District 11 residents and stakeholders, our results provide honest and powerful narratives of individuals, families, and communities' daily struggle to find work, raise families, and survive in District 11. Four prominent themes emerged from the voices of youth, elders, women and men talking and planning together: the chronic abuse of workers' rights and lack of workers rights education and advocacy; the lack of opportunities to build economic assets, including cooperatively owned assets; the need for culturally competent employment services and resources within the geographic boundaries of District 11; the need for public policy reforms to expand local job opportunities. Everyday youth, adults, and elders in our communities have the skills and talents to build a strong, local economy; what they lack is the investment and resources to make their dreams happen. The recommendations in our People Powered Solutions point the ways to new models, economic alternatives, and long lasting changes.
This is the second in a series of reports monitoring the growing problem of wage theft in Florida. Using previously unanalyzed data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and separate data from various community organizations, this report shows evidence of a widespread problem across a broad spectrum of industries in Florida. The industries especially impacted are those commonly thought of as the core of Florida’s economy—tourism, retail trade, and construction. Moreover, it appears more likely to affect those workers who can least afford it. Workers who receive low wages seem to be more likely to have their wages stolen by employers and as demonstrated in this report this is a large number ofpeople. But, even this data does not account for the full magnitude of the problem, as an unknown number of cases go unreported. Indeed, as data on wage theft accumulates, the more it becomes clear how widespread wage theft is in the state of Florida and throughout the state’s industries. Wage theft is defined as workers not receiving wages that they are legally owed. It occurs in different forms including unpaid overtime, not being paid at least the minimum wage, working during meal breaks, misclassification of employees as independent contractors, forcing employees to work off the clock, altering time cards or pay stubs, illegally deducting money from employees’ pay checks, paying employees late, or simply not paying employees at all. Unfortunately, many employers know they can get away with wage theft and have little fear of sanction. Enforcement mechanisms are weak, due to lack of dedicated enforcement capacity at the state level, limited capacity of local branches of the Federal Department of Labor, and the gaps in U.S. labor laws that leave many employees unprotected.The report finds that many of Florida’s workforce fall outside of federal labor laws; thus, other enforcement mechanisms such as Miami Dade’s Wage Theft Ordinance are needed to ensure that employees, communities, and local governments will not miss out on millions of stolen wages that are owed to them, and that unscrupulous employers will be penalized for breaking labor laws.The report estimates that nearly 60-90 million dollars are stolen from Florida’s workforce, impacting communities, law abiding employers and local and state economies. The release of the report comes at a time when the Florida legislature is debating a House and Senate bill that would eliminate the Miami-Dade Wage Theft Ordinance, which has collected nearly $400,000 in stolen wages from employees–and preempt any other local governments trying to find solutions to wage theft in their communities.
The foreclosure crisis, which began in 2006 and is ongoing, has left few communities untouched and has been particularly devastating for low-income communities and communities of color. By the time the crisis abates, 10 million homeowners will have lost their homes to foreclosure. Many of them will lose their standing in the middle class and suffer tremendous economic and personal losses. But the crisis does not only affect those who undergo foreclosures themselves. Foreclosures also affect neighborhoods, dragging down the prices of nearby homes, dampening the housing market, and draining cash- strapped municipalities of precious resources. In many hard-hit neighborhoods, another destabilizing force is the wave of investors who swept in and bought much of the distressed property stock. Foreclosures also affect the economy, since strong neighborhoods are integral to the economic health of the regions in which they are located. In the face of the crisis, communities and consumer advocacy organizations have organized around a range of strategies at a variety of scales and points in the foreclosure cycle, including preventing further foreclosures, protecting tenants living in foreclosed homes, holding banks accountable, and reclaiming foreclosed properties for community benefit. They also have taken action to reform the broader financial system that created and perpetuated the crisis.
Their advocacy helped shape the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, created in July 2010 to write and enforce new, transparent standards for mortgages and other financial products. At a time when federal programs are on the chopping block, these organizations have fought against cuts to critical homeownership counseling and foreclosure recovery programs.
While these efforts have been important, too few people have been engaged in this policy debate. All residents have a stake in how their communities recover from the foreclosure crisis, and all should be involved in the search for solutions. Those working to reduce poverty and increase economic and social inclusion, in particular, should contribute their voices to the ongoing discussions and needed reforms.
This report provides essential information to inform policy discussions about foreclosure recovery.
Despite its persistent association with the "inner city," poverty has shifted toward the suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past decade. Using data from the 2000 census and the 2005-2009 ACS 5-year estimates, this research brief examines the changing geography of poverty in the Bay Area and its implications for the community development field. Using data from U.S. Census Bureau, this research brief analyzes the changing geography of poverty in the Bay Area, yielding the following conclusions: Household poverty rates have risen across the Bay Area, both in urban and suburban areas. The Bay Area’s total household poverty rate increased 1.1 percentage points during the period of analysis, from 2000 to 2009. The population in poverty rose faster in suburban census tracts and varied across racial groups and nativity status. The number of people living in poverty rose 16 percent in the suburbs, compared to 7 percent in urban areas. Blacks and Hispanics saw the greatest percentage growth in suburban poverty, as did the native?born population. The share of the poor living in suburban tracts has increased across all racial groups, but the change is highest among Blacks. The share of the poor Black population living in the suburbs increased more than 7 percentage points, whereas the next highest group, Asians, increased 2 percentage points. Changes in the percent of urban and suburban residents in poverty also varied between racial categories and nativity status. Poverty rates increased across almost all groups – except Asians and the foreign?born population living in suburban areas. The poverty rates for suburban Blacks and urban Hispanics each rose more than two percentage points. Access to transit decreased for the population in poverty. While the percent of people living within 0.5 miles of a rail station did not change significantly for the total population, it did decrease 1.5 percentage points for the poor population. Furthermore, the percentage of poor people living more than 4 miles from a rail station increased 3 percentage points.
Like what you are reading and seeing here? Want to keep up to date with frontline analysis of the social movments of our time? Keep this movement making resource alive for you! Donate $2, $3, $5, $10, $25. . . Donations over $50 receive a full-color printed printed edition delivered to you at a postal address and more.