New Online Tool Connects Californians To Energy-Saving & Climate Programs

UpLift Resource Finder Helps Families, Governments, Community Groups Find Help to Save Energy & Money, Fight Climate Change

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Today The Greenlining Institute released a new online tool designed to help Californians – individuals and families as well as community groups and local governments – access the many resources funded by cap-and-trade revenues through the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The UpLift Resource Finder is the latest update to UpLiftCA.org, the site created by Greenlining to tell the story of how California climate policies benefit underserved communities. A Spanish language version of the Resource Finder will launch next week.

Until now, Californians have had no central, user-friendly place where individuals or community groups could find all this information assembled in a way that’s easy to access.

“California uses money from polluters to help communities plant trees and community gardens, build affordable housing near public transit, and much more, and helps families weatherize their homes, get solar power and purchase electric cars,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Manager Emi Wang. “But until now there’s been no central, user-friendly place you could go to learn what’s available that might meet your needs. The Resource Finder solves that problem.”

The new tool was designed to be easy to use, even for those with little knowledge of California’s climate programs: Users answer a few simple questions, and the Resource Finder directs them to a summary of GGRF-funded resources they’re likely to be eligible for, with links to the actual programs online. For more advanced users, a separate interface displays all the resources and lets users filter them in various ways.

“By using money from polluters to fund resources that offer real help to underserved communities and low-income Californians, our state has created an example for the world to follow,” Wang said. “By bringing this information together in one place, we’ve made all this help easier for everyone to access.”

NOTE: Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Alvaro Sanchez is available for Spanish language interviews. Stories of real Californians benefitting from the state’s climate policies can be found at http://upliftca.org/in-our-neighborhoods/.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

California Okays New Electric Vehicle Charging Projects to Boost Access in Low-Income Communities

$43 Million in Smaller Projects Part of Larger Push to Grow EV Access

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Today the California Public Utilities Commission approved 15 proposals to expand electric vehicle access and charging infrastructure submitted last year by Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric under Senate Bill 350 (De León). The projects, considered under “expedited review,” were revised to increase EV access in low-income communities and will support more than 5,300 new charging points overall.

The approved projects cover a variety of needs, ranging from facilities to charge school buses with renewable power to education and incentives for EV dealers.

These smaller projects build on earlier commitments by the utilities to install a minimum of 1,625 electric vehicle charging stations in disadvantaged and low-income communities,  and are connected to a larger batch of projects currently being considered. Overall, the just-approved and pending proposals represent a $1 billion investment in new EV infrastructure and related transportation electrification projects.

“The original projects were underwhelming in terms of delivering concrete benefits to low-income communities of color, the neighborhoods hit first and worst by air pollution and climate change,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Legal Counsel Joel Espino, who led Greenlining’s advocacy in the proceedings. “Fortunately, SB 350 provides solid legal grounds for the CPUC to modify these proposals to ensure that all Californians can truly benefit from the growth of clean transportation, and we’re grateful the Commission acted.”

For additional background on the connections between EVs, California climate efforts, and low-income communities of color, see Greenlining’s “Electric Vehicles for All” online toolkit, authored by Espino. For real-world examples of how EV efforts and other California climate policies benefit underserved Californians, visit UpliftCA.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Tax Bill Spells Disaster for Americans of Color, Greenlining Institute Says

Programs that Working Families Depend on Face Cuts to Fund Corporate Tax Breaks

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director,  415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The tax “reform” bill just passed by the House and Senate spells disaster for Americans of color and all working families, The Greenlining Institute said today. The bill gives huge, permanent tax cuts to corporations and wealthy individuals but only modest and temporary relief to working families, while setting the stage for the destruction of the Affordable Care Act and cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs essential to working Americans.

Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar made the following statement:

“There’s a reason this bill has been called the #GOPTaxScam on social media. It pretends to be a tax cut, but most working families will eventually see their taxes go up. Worse, it selectively targets Americans of color, who already sit on the losing end of a racial wealth gap that this bill will make worse.

“For decades, African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos have disproportionately lacked health insurance, but the Affordable Care Act went a long way toward closing that gap. By sabotaging Obamacare, this fake reform puts the health and economic survival of millions of Americans of color at risk. By exploding the deficit, this tax scam sets the stage for devastating cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs upon which tens of millions depend.

“I said earlier this year that the president and Congress had declared war on Americans of color. This tax bill shows that was no exaggeration.”

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

New Mortgage Report Documents Gentrification in Oakland, Long Beach, Other CA Communities

Most Loans in Low-Income Tracts Don’t Go to Low-Income Buyers; Non-Bank Lenders Soar

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – A new analysis of California home mortgage data by The Greenlining Institute and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, to be released Dec. 12, documents what the authors call “a statistical portrait of gentrification.” The analysis, based on data collected by federal regulators for mortgages issued in 2015, shows a number of other concerning patterns, including continuing racial disparities and a startling rise in the role of non-bank lenders. Researchers reviewed statewide data as well as local statistics for Long Beach, Oakland and Fresno.

“African American and Latino borrowers continue to receive a disproportionately low share of home purchase and refinance loans, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said report co-author Vedika Ahuja, Greenlining’s Economic Equity Senior Program Manager. “We see a lot of home purchase loans in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, but few of them going to low- and moderate-income borrowers.”

Journalists can follow this link to preview the report, State of Gentrification: Home Lending to Communities of Color in California, which isembargoed until 12:01 a.m. PST on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

Key findings include:

  • Latinos and Blacks remain severely underrepresented in home purchase and refinance loan originations. Combined, they make up 43.8 percent of California’s population but only receive 24.2 percent of home purchase loans in the state.
  • Home purchase loans in low- to moderate-income census tracts across California vastly exceeded loans to low- to moderate-income borrowers – creating a statistical portrait of gentrification. This discrepancy is more pronounced in Long Beach and Oakland, both experiencing notable gentrification, than in Fresno. In Long Beach, loans in LMI census tracts from the top 10 lenders exceeded loans to LMI borrowers by four to one, suggesting that middle and upper income borrowers are displacing lower income buyers in these neighborhoods. In Oakland the ratio was roughly three to one.
  • The Community Reinvestment Act, which has led to over $1 trillion in investments, loans, and services to low-income neighborhoods over the past 40 years, may be inadvertently impacted by rampant gentrification pressures. Currently, regulators award financial institutions Community Reinvestment Act credit for extending loans in low- to moderate-income census tracts even if the borrower is wealthy. CRA examiners should thoroughly consider gentrification issues in CRA exams going forward. Further research should explore whether the CRA may inadvertently incentivize banks to lend to upper-income borrowers purchasing in LMI neighborhoods, potentially accelerating displacement
  • Non-bank lenders play an ever-larger role. Statewide, five of the top 10 home purchase lenders were non-banks. These lenders are not subject to the CRA and may be under-capitalized. In addition, non-bank lenders have effectively marketed to low-income and immigrant communities, who may be more vulnerable to predatory lending.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Consumer Groups Ask Ninth Circuit to Block FCC Broadband Order Downgrading Rural America

Today, Public Knowledge, joined by The Greenlining Institute, The Utility Reform Network, and National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, filed a Petition for Review with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The petition asks the court to reverse and vacate the Federal Communications Commission’s November Order rolling back the agency’s consumer protections for Americans on legacy copper phone lines.

More than 76 million people — especially low-income and elderly individuals — still rely on copper lines for telecommunications services. Many rural communities have no cable provider and poor wireless coverage, making traditional copper the only option for broadband, or even basic voice services such as 911. Millions of Americans could lose access to vital communications services without the protections the FCC is moving to rescind in this new Order.

Last month’s Order reverses rules the FCC adopted in 2015 to protect individuals and communities still dependent on legacy copper lines as telephone companies retire them. The FCC eliminated the ability of communities to demand that phone companies maintain copper lines until those lines are replaced with an adequate and comparable service, rather than simply abandoning them (called “de facto retirement”). The FCC also eliminated the “functional test,” which required phone companies to support essential non-voice services, such as alarm systems, medical monitors, and small business services, during the transition to fiber. Finally, the FCC eliminated the 180-day notice requirement for individuals and business customers, making it much more difficult for those still relying on copper lines to minimize the cost and disruption of finding adequate replacement services.

Public Knowledge and The Greenlining Institute believe this rollback will harm rural communities that already struggle economically and will widen the digital divide. Additionally, the cost of the transition will fall most heavily on those who can least afford it and who are already on the wrong end of that divide: the elderly, the poor, and America’s growing rural communities of color. Petitioners ask the Ninth Circuit to reverse the November rollback of these protections as “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or contrary to law.”

The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:

“The protections the FCC previously adopted ensured that the retirement of legacy phone services would be an upgrade for everyone, not an upgrade for some and a downgrade for others. The FCC claims that removing these protection will encourage telephone companies to upgrade their networks more quickly. But it practically guarantees that these companies will continue to leave rural America behind.”

The following can be attributed to Vinhcent Le, Telecommunications Legal Counsel at The Greenlining Institute:

“The FCC’s continual rollback of consumer protections to benefit telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon is unprecedented. This order will harm millions in rural communities, and will especially harm the over 10 million people of color who live in rural communities and who already have fewer resources and face greater obstacles to economic opportunity than their neighbors.”

You may read the Petition for Review for more information.

Mick Mulvaney Appointment as CFPB Director Disastrous for Consumers, Greenlining Institute Says

Legally Questionable Appointee Will Push to Gut Consumer Protections, Spell Disaster for Communities of Color

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – President Trump’s legally dubious appointment Friday of Mick Mulvaney to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would be disastrous for U.S. consumers, The Greenlining Institute said today. Mulvaney has called the bureau “a sick, sad joke,”  and “the very worst kind of government entity.”

The appointment is expected to set up a legal battle, as outgoing CFPB director Richard Cordray had attempted to name his successor hours earlier by naming Leandra English to the position of deputy director, who would normally assume the top job should it become vacant.

“This continues President Trump’s pattern of appointing agency heads whose express intent is to destroy the office they lead,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Kỳ-Nam Kwon Miller. “Mulvaney will be as big a gift to Wall Street grifters as Scott Pruitt has been to polluters. Leandra English is the right person to lead the CFPB. As a dedicated public servant who has spent her career making federal service delivery more efficient and effective, Ms. English has the capacity, experience, and skill set to serve as acting CFPB director until an appropriate nominee is put forward by the White House and the Senate votes to confirm him or her.”

The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law after it became clear that predatory, deceptive lending practices played a huge role in the subprime mortgage crisis that triggered the Great Recession. Much of the worst activity specifically targeted communities of color and low-income borrowers.

“We supported CFPB’s creation because our communities got hit worst by predatory lending, and literally no one in government was looking out for financial consumers,” said Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar. “CPFB’s first director, Richard Cordray, championed ordinary Americans, obtaining literally billions in relief for people who’d been gouged. This appointment makes clear that President Trump wants to leave consumers defenseless against being ripped off by shady financial firms.”

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

New Report: Women of Color Underrepresented Among Doctors, Face Major Barriers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 2, 2017

New Report: Women of Color Underrepresented Among Doctors, Face Major Barriers
Women of Color Are Only 11.7% of Doctors, Well Below Their Population Share

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – A new report from The Greenlining Institute and the Artemis Medical Society finds that women of color are severely underrepresented among U.S. physicians and face serious barriers to entering medicine and succeeding in the field. This, in turn, means millions of Americans of color lack access to culturally competent care from a provider with whom they feel comfortable. The report, “Breaking Down Barriers for Women Physicians of Color,” is based on in-depth interviews with 20 women physicians from California and around the U.S.

“America needs doctors as diverse as our population, but we don’t have them due to a flawed system,” said Artemis Medical Society President Dr. Myiesha Taylor, a board-certified emergency medicine physician specialist.

“We know that doctors who understand their patients’ communities and cultures can provide better care,” said Artemis Medical Society Vice President Dr. Deonza Thymes. “Having more diverse physicians means better care for everyone.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Many physicians interviewed described a lack of support from high school and college counselors, college professors and graduate students. Shockingly, 40 percent of interviewees recalled a high school or college counselor attempting to discourage them from pursuing a medical career, while over half had questioned their prospects of succeeding as a physician because they had never met a physician who shared their racial identity. These factors no doubt contribute to the fact that women of color are severely underrepresented in medicine, representing just 11.7 percent of physicians.
  • In addition to a lack of diversity among medical school faculty, participants cited incidents of overt racism. Several cited specific instances when lecturers casually referenced racist tropes to describe unruly patient interactions. Many interviewees described unequal treatment during medical school and residency, including instances in which male students were encouraged to voice their opinions while women were more likely to be silenced.
  • Interviewees also cited financial barriers, including the expense of applying to medical schools, which cost each interviewee several thousand dollars.

“Health sector employers, universities and foundations must all step up their effort to diversify the physician pipeline and make cultural competence a core element of medical schools and residency programs,” said Greenlining Institute Health Policy Director and report co-author Anthony Galace. “Medical schools and institutions must strengthen anti-discrimination and reporting policies to make sure that those who suffer discrimination feel safe in reporting it.”

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Charge Ahead California Campaign Applauds EV Bills Signed by Gov. Brown

For Immediate Release: October 11, 2017

On Tuesday, Governor Brown signed a series of bills that promote zero emission transportation.  These bills improve our access to Electric Vehicles (EVs) by placing charging stations in schools (AB 1082), parks and beaches (AB 1083) while prioritizing programs in disadvantaged communities.  This EV bill package also extends and increases rebates for low-moderate income households when purchasing EVs (AB 615) while expanding incentive programs that encourage residents to retire their older cars and replace them with cleaner ones (AB 630).  Others bills create aggressive targets for state fleet of zero emission vehicles and offer additional incentives for purchasing clean vehicles.  In response, organization members of the Charge Ahead California Campaign issued the following statements:

“As we near the end of another unhealthy smog season, Californians are searching for solutions to air pollution,” said Bill Magavern, Policy Director with Coalition for Clean Air.  A rapid shift to zero-emission vehicles is essential to delivering clean air, and the package of legislation signed by Governor Brown will help speed that transition by making both electric vehicles and charging stations more accessible.”

“Electrification of transportation, providing affordable access to clean mobility options for low-income communities of color, and creating effective just transition programs in EJ communities are central strategies for ending our dependence on fossil fuels in California while lifting up communities most in need,” said Bahram Fazeli, Director of Research & Policy with Communities for a Better Environment.  “We applaud our legislators and Governor Brown for taking steps in this direction, and urge them to continue to push for clean transportation options in disadvantaged communities who need relief the most from air pollution and are on the frontlines of climate change impacts.”

“As wildfires ravage multiple California counties, it is clear that we must act now to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Thank you to Governor Brown and all the California legislators who championed these new policies to accelerate the transition to a clean electric vehicle future,” said Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment California.  “Expanding electric vehicle access for low-income Californians, installing charging infrastructure at schools and state parks, and increasing light- and heavy-duty electric vehicles in our public fleets – these are among the innovative solutions California needs to fully electrify our transportation sector by mid-century and set a strong example for other states to follow.”

“Discriminatory land use and transportation policy has devastated low-income communities of color with poor transit service and clogged freeways jammed with dirty cars and diesel trucks,” said Joel Espino, Environmental Equity Legal Counsel with The Greenlining Institute. “With this package of bills, California policymakers are disrupting that old way of thinking to make sure our neediest, most impacted communities benefit most from the EV revolution.”

“Schools, and state parks and beaches are long-dwell time locations well-suited to charging electric vehicles that, because they are also highly visible, could play an important role in overcoming a lack-of-awareness that is holding back the EV market,” said Max Baumhefner, Clean Vehicles & Fuels Attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council.

About the Charge Ahead California Campaign:

The Charge Ahead California Campaign, which launched its project in 2013, has played an instrumental role in raising awareness among decision-makers and the public about the benefits and opportunities in moving us closer towards our EV targets while identifying programs and policies that enhance access for disadvantaged communities. The Charge Ahead coalition has been working to place one million light, medium, and heavy-duty electric vehicles on California’s roads by 2023 and ensure that all Californians, especially lower-income households most impacted by air pollution, benefit from zero tailpipe emissions.

Exhaust from cars and trucks creates nearly 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions and hits low-income neighborhoods and communities of color hardest. Dirty air makes tens of thousands of Californians sick, costs us billions in avoidable health costs, and causes twice as many deaths as traffic-related accidents. The impacts of this pollution are far worse for lower-income families and people of color because they are more likely to live near busy roads and freeways and be exposed to dangerous levels of emissions.

 

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New Report: Utility/Telecom Contracting with Minority- and LGBT-Owned Firms Grows

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2017

New Report: Utility/Telecom Contracting with Minority- and LGBT-Owned Firms Grows
Total Spending with Diverse Businesses Reaches $9.5 Billion but Comcast Lags; 2016 Was 1st Year for Reporting LGBT Contracting Stats

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Contracting with diverse businesses by California’s major utility, telecommunications and water companies grew again in 2016, according to The Greenlining Institute’s latest Supplier Diversity Report Card. Still, performance varied greatly among companies, with Pacific Gas and Electric emerging as a leader and Comcast lagging. LGBT businesses were added to the California Public Utilities Commission’s supplier diversity program in 2015, and 2016 was the first year that companies had to report figures for their contracting with LGBT firms.

“We’re glad to see steady progress – progress that translates to jobs and opportunities for California’s diverse communities,” said Greenlining Institute Diversity and Inclusion Director Danielle Beavers. “Still, we can’t help but be disappointed that a huge and influential company like Comcast shows so little regard for California businesses owned by minorities, women, disabled veterans and LGBT Californians.”

Highlights of the report include:

  • Many companies increased their contracting with diverse businesses in 2016, spending a total of $6.38 billion with minority-owned businesses, $2.84 billion with women-owned businesses, and $431 million with companies owned by service-disabled veterans.
  • For the first time, figures were reported for LGBT-owned businesses, totaling just over $41 million.
  • Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison continued to be leaders, each earning an A grade with over 44 percent of contract dollars going to diverse firms.
  • Communications giant Comcast lagged badly, with its percentage of spending with diverse suppliers dropping by nearly half since 2013, resulting in a grade of D-. African American businesses got just over one half of one percent of Comcast’s contracting dollars, and Comcast spent nothing or nearly nothing with Native American-, disabled veteran- and LGBT-owned businesses.
  • Overall, contracting with Black-owned businesses lagged, with these firms getting just over three percent of total contracts.

Utility, telecommunications and water companies annually report data on contracting with diverse firms to the California Public Utilities Commission under the auspices of CPUC’s General Order 156. This legislatively authorized program seeks to boost California’s economy by encouraging contracting with businesses owned by minorities, women, service-disabled veterans and LGBT persons. Greenlining reviews the data each year and issues an annual report card, including evaluations and suggestions for improvement.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Greenlining Institute Supports Small Business Data Collection

Greenlining Institute Supports Section 1071 of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, Consumer Protection Act

Contact: Leonna Spilman, Greenlining Institute Communications Coordinator, 442-999-1505 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – On September 14th, The Greenlining Institute submitted a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, along with 33 nonprofits, Chambers of Commerce, and business associations, strongly urging the CFPB to implement Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

The rule would require financial institutions to compile, maintain, and report critical information about small business lending activity including an applicant’s race, ethnicity, and gender. Section 1071 will be critical in ensuring fair access to capital for small, women- and minority-owned businesses.

Research shows that credit denial rates for entrepreneurs of color – especially for Blacks and Latinos – and women are disproportionately higher than those of their white and male counterparts, even after controlling for variables such as business credit scores, personal wealth, and revenue. Ample research also finds that even when minority entrepreneurs do succeed in securing financing, they receive smaller loans and pay higher interest rates than their white counterparts, again, even after controlling for differences in creditworthiness.

“Small business loan data transparency is critical to ensuring entrepreneurs of color, women entrepreneurs, and small businesses will be empowered to achieve their immense potential when they have access to the capital they need. As a barometer of market conditions in small business finance, Greenlining believes Section 1071 will be instrumental in identifying discrepancies in lending and addressing the unique credit needs of entrepreneurs of color, women entrepreneurs, and small businesses.”

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining