in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
Provide mobile-accessible bank accounts and graduated social services; reduce program bureaucracy
From: Greg H., Roseville, MN
1) Revise tax law to eliminate any taxes on savings for individuals earning at or below three times the federal poverty level. This will help get people up and moving.
2) Provide a state bank account to everyone who cannot get a private sector bank account. This would be used for saving money and being able to deposit paychecks. Lack of a bank account due to changing addresses and employment status puts some people at the mercy of payday lenders and the vicious cycle of never ending loan payments.
3) Provide a cell phone-based mechanism for people in poverty to transfer credit and money from their bank. (It's working in Africa!)
4) Revise social services from the "either you get it or you don't" model to the graduated, tapering-off model. Many folks suffer from having to remain in poverty to keep one or two critical social services benefits that low paying jobs don't provide and that they require to keep a job (for example health care for a chronic illness). Often, when they get a job, their new income eliminates their qualification for all social services even though that income isn't enough to cover food, daycare, transportation, and other expenses. Give them partial coverage for daycare, health care, or other needs. Help them succeed.
5) Embed more identity security technology in the social services distribution system to prevent fraudulent double-dipping. That would free up resources for real need.
6) Reduce overhead and redundant bureaucracy by decreasing the number of programs and organizations, and managing programs centrally. This would push more program dollars to the people who need them.