40+ COUNTY AND CITY AGENCIES TO ADDRESS BRIDGING PUBLIC BENEFITS
More than 1 million Los Angeles County women are the breadwinners for their household. County figures show their families are more likely to live in poverty.
Summit explored solutions on how existing services can be leveraged to change that narrative
October 4, 2019 (LOS ANGELES) – Golden State Opportunity (GSO) convened more than 40 county and city nonprofit organizations, foundations, municipal agencies and for-profit allies to examine how together, the coalition can expand the utilization of public benefits and tax credits among low-income households at its 2nd Annual Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit: Bridging Public Benefits & Tax Credits last Friday. The Summit is an opportunity to foster greater collaboration between for-profit, nonprofit and governmental organizations in order to maximize outreach and participation in programs such as food and cash assistance, health coverage, early education and more.
“Women are working harder than ever in LA County, and yet many working women are still struggling to get ahead,” said Sandra Lyon, State Director for Golden State Opportunity. “In fact, close to 30% of women in the county who live in poverty are employed, and the poverty rate for women here is higher than the statewide and national averages. At the same time, we know that public benefits and tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, can help women advance in their careers, support their families and reach financial stability. But far too many are unaware of these services or lack the bandwidth to enroll. By working together, we can do more to ensure they have the information and support they need to leverage the resources that already exist to help them thrive.”
This year’s Summit focused to build momentum around the education and outreach campaigns aimed at improving the utilization of public benefits for Los Angeles County residents and workers across California, which Golden State Opportunity operates with the help of a broad coalition of public agencies, nonprofits, labor groups, faith-based organizations and elected officials. The Summit served as an opportunity to gather feedback, share tactics, and expand partnerships in order to elevate efforts in these areas.
The Summit spotlighted success stories of clients who benefitted from free tax preparation and tax credits from CalEITC4Me. GSO’s CalEITC4Me campaign is a leader in spreading awareness of the California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC), which puts more money directly in the pockets of low-income working families throughout California.
“I used to be scared to go to the doctors because I didn’t have the money or I didn’t have the money to buy the prescription. Now that I’m eligible for Medi-Cal, I am not afraid to go to the doctors, [and] on my doctor visits, they help me with whatever prescription I may need, so it’s not only helping me financially but it’s helping me with my health,” said Sofia Z., 24, receptionist and full-time student who benefits from CalEITC4Me.
“I was able to go to more places and do more activities with my children. I’m able to save money now. And when things come up, I’m able to help my children when they need projects at school and when they need to go for rides to baseball games and football games, I got a car to be able to take them,” said Irene N., 47, crosswalk guard.
Eight out of every ten Cal EITC dollars go to parents, according to the Franchise Tax Board. Combined with the federal EITC and federal Child Tax Credit, these valuable tax refunds can increase a parent’s annual income by anywhere from 70% to more than 90%, according to a California Budget & Policy Center analysis. Over the last 4 years, CalEITC4Me helped 4 million low-income families claim $4 billion through the state and federal EITCs.
“The goal of this year’s Summit was to continue to broaden our advocacy for bringing financial security to more families by expanding our coalition of like-minded civic and government thought leaders, local and statewide community-based organizations, and for-profit allies to help increase the impact and reach of existing public benefits,” said Laura Barrera, Los Angeles Director for Golden State Opportunity.
The success of GSO’s CalEITC4Me efforts led to the launch of the My Public Benefits campaign and MyPublicBenefits.org, a program which applies their proven outreach and education tactics to other safety net services. This new campaign started with a pilot program aimed at increasing CalFresh food assistance participation rates in Los Angeles County. Statewide, roughly 4 million people are enrolled in CalFresh, which accounts for only 70% of those who are eligible. That’s well below the national average of 83% enrollment in food assistance. In Los Angeles County, with roughly 1 million people enrolled in CalFresh, the participation rate is just 65%.