The city of Dallas is putting focus on those struggling to make ends meet.
Through a community survey, the city wants to better understand how fines and fees can impact your day to day life. The goal is to create meaningful fine and fee reforms.
The survey asks a series of questions - like what types of fines have you received within the last five years, and how did those fees affect your finances?
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Dallas was selected to join the inaugural class of leaders in what's called the Cities & Counties for Fine and Fee Justice network earlier this year.
According to a city news release, "the network, established by PolicyLink, the San Francisco Financial Justice Project, and the Fines and Fees Justice Center, was established to unite local places committed to meaningful fine and fee reform, that works better for people and for government."
It’s a growing national movement that recognizes the disproportionate fines and fees on people of color, and people who are struggling to make ends meet, especially during an ongoing pandemic.
The news release points out -- "For residents living on low incomes, a cascade of consequences sets in when they cannot pay: their debt can grow, their driver’s license can be suspended, their credit score goes down, and their employment and economic mobility opportunities are diminished."
Dallas joins a number of cities in this effort including Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle.
"Since being accepted into the cohort, city staff across multiple departments and external partners have been working diligently to evaluate and assess our current fines and fees structure," said Chief of Equity and Inclusion Liz Cedillo-Pereira. "Community feedback from the survey is essential and will help us develop a strategy to equitably address fines and fees"
Dallas city leaders are hoping the survey will help them learn more about the issue of fines and fees and help them better address the problem.
"These responses will also help us shape our policy priorities for the city, and what we as a group will recommend to the city council for consideration,” said Genesis Gavino, Resilience Officer for the City of Dallas.
The survey is available right now in English and Spanish. You can take it until Friday, Dec. 18. SURVEY: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DallasFinesandFees