Welcome Clinte Cottam!
CAP Utah is excited to announce our new Executive Director, Clint Cottam! Clint grew up in St. George where he lived most of his life and recently served as Director of Community Action at Five County Associations of Governments - working with food, transportation, asset development, and housing programs. This was a unique opportunity to learn from great mentors in urban and rural communities. Clint graduated with a BA in European Studies from BYU and a MPA from Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He is also an AmeriCorps alumnus and has experience in criminal justice, youth diversion, and service-learning initiatives. Clint is married to his wife Kathryn and they have three children. He is excited to support the Community Action Agencies in Utah!
What is the "public charge" rule?
The "public charge" test has been used to identify people who depend on, or may depend on, government assistance for their primary source of financial support. A "public charge" can be used as a grounds for denial for immigrants applying for citizenship. Under the current policy, immigration officers decide if a person is likely to become primarily dependent of government assistance. Currently, the only benefits that are considered are cash benefits such as TANF or SSI, and government institutionalization for long term care.
In October, the government announced a proposed regulation that will radically chance the "public charge" test. Under the new proposed change, low to moderate-income families will face more challenges and difficulties when trying to change their immigration status. A new definition of "public charge" will change from someone who uses government assistance as their main source of support, to someone who is likely at any time in the future to receive public assistance. Additional benefits that would be considered under the change include SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage), and federal housing assistance programs. The new rule also considers factors such as age (children and seniors), health conditions, household size, income, education, and credit history (negative or low credit scores) as weighing negatively in "public charge" decisions.
Some groups of immigrants - such as refugees - are not subject to "public charge" determinations. A charge is also not a considerations when lawful permanent residents (green card holders) apply to become U.S. citizens. The proposed rule doesn't affect an individual's eligibility to receive public benefits. However, families will be faced with a difficult choice. If they receive public benefits, it will count against them and jeopardize their immigration application if they are to adjust their status at a later point. The new rule could force immigrant families to choose between permanent legal status and access to basic needs like food, housing, and health care.
Community Action Agencies embody out nation's spirit of hope, change people's lives, and improve communities. Many Community Action programs and community initiatives are intended to create opportunities and remove barriers that block people's way to economic security. For Community Action Agencies, this proposed rule will have a large impact on the people we serve. Hunger, poor housing, and poverty are issues we see families face every day. Food insecurity and lack of preventative healthcare can lead to increased health expenditures; weakened housing programs may increase homelessness; and fear in our immigrant communities can lead to large-scale disenrollment of families from public benefit programs - even programs that will not be affected by the rule. It is estimated that 26 million people may be afraid to participate in programs that make their families healthier and stronger.
You can take action and comment until December 10th and let them know how the proposed rule could harm those you work with and your communities. The CAP National Office has created templates specifically for Community Action Agencies to use. To comment as a private citizen, check out the template from Protect Immigrant Families.
Want to learn more? CAPLAW has provided a FAQ sheet
"We must open the doors of opportunity. But we aslo must equip our people to walk through those doors." - President Lyndon B. Johnson
Tax Season in Almost Here
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax assistance for low to moderate-income families and individuals at tax sites throughout Utah. In 2018, there were 59 VITA sites in Utah staffed by 684 volunteers. VITA volunteers help Utahns claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable tax credit for people who work but do not have high incomes. In 2017, an estimated $6,449,003 in EITC was distributed to VITA clients. That financial boost helps working people greatly, and this free service is beneficial to those on limited incomes.
The success of VITA wouldn't be possible without the service from hundreds of volunteers. Tax season is approaching and it's not too late to volunteer! By becoming an IRS certified volunteer, you can gain important experience while providing a valuable service to Utah taxpayers. Free training is provided for all volunteers and opportunities are available for everyone across the state. Contact to learn more about how you can help this tax season.
Here's what one of our volunteers has to say:
“I have really enjoyed working with our clients this year. I have had the opportunity to meet so many members of our community from all walks of life. Almost every one of them have expressed their gratitude for this program, and for our assistance. The economic climate here makes this a vital service. I have loved how grateful people are when they receive a refund for the first time, or even have to pay less. I had one sweet lady cry when she realized she wasn’t going to have to pay anything. She said she had no idea how she would come up with the money.” – Mary, Vernal volunteer
Save the Date! 2019 National Conferences:
CAP National Office Management and Leadership Training Conference January 16th - January 18th New Orleans, LA
NASCSP February 13th - February 15th Arlington, VA
National Community Action Foundation March 20th - March 22nd Washington DC
CAPLAW June 19th - June 21st Charlotte, NC
CAP National Office Annual Convention August 28th - August 30th Chicago, IL
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