Miami Herald: “Miami-Dade County can help federal workers caught in the shutdown”

President Trump’s shutdown has shed light on the troubling reality that millions of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. The shutdown, now the longest in history, has federal employees unable to cover basic costs. Putting aside monthly reserves for emergencies has been a financial nonstarter for too many.

While the new year often means resolutions and an opportunity to start anew, for 800,000 federal employees and their families, the shutdown has brought financial havoc.

What does this mean for our federally employed neighbors, family members and friends? They now need to rely on the financial support of family, max out credit cards or negotiate with landlords to cover rent and buy the basic necessities.

With the shutdown likely to continue, local government and nonprofits must play a role. We can lift each other up when resources are properly deployed and educational tools are put to use. Moments of crisis can also be a time to reflect on how to make financial stability a reality for every family.

In recent years, I have worked to create children’s savings accounts and promoted lending circles as viable and flexible tools for families to save for emergencies. Many of these ideas have been vetted by economic development researchers and recommended in a 2016 Prosperity Initiatives Action Plan, which was prepared in response to my legislation on Miami-Dade County Commission.

While the shutdown is inexcusable, it reminds us to revisit the asset-building solutions proposed in that report. Let’s implement these common-sense solutions to make our families more economically resilient.

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