On Thursday December 6th, COFI/POWER-PAC and The Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia announced the creation of a new City of Chicago Fines, Fees & Access Collaborative to unite researchers, aldermen, officials from various city departments to dig in for a critical examination of the barriers facing Chicago families struggling with debts owed to the city.
This new effort is a direct response to POWER-PAC’s report, “Stopping the Debt Spiral” and its call for a City of Chicago Financial Justice initiative modeled after San Francisco’s (see their recommendations here). The POWER-PAC report paints a picture of families suffering emotional and financial hardship while trying to cope with multiple forms of debt. Parents distributed the report, met with city officials, shared their stories with the media (gaining important allies there), and pushed to get this issue on the policymaking table. Then, with partners, parents have been highlighting the barriers to employment, bankruptcy filing and license suspensions along with the disproportionate impact of city debt on black and brown communities.
Now, the issues of city fees and fines are at the forefront of the Chicago municipal election agenda and the new Fines, Fees and Access Collaborative – which will meet monthly and will release at set recommendations by May 2019 – is expecting to win REAL change.
Power to the Parents!