Getting Ready: Conversations About Economic Insecurity and Community Response

Economic and political analysts continue to recognize a likelihood of a severe economic recession beginning as early as fall of 2020, and escalating in 2021 and beyond.[1] In the United States, a set of historical responses have characterized systemic response to economic recession on a national scale, and in municipalities. These include increasing criminalization of poor people, escalating patterns of eviction and homelessness, anti-immigrant backlash, and simultaneous deficits in social services addressing addiction, mental health, food access, and economic supports.[2] Given the predictions of impending extreme economic challenges beginning within a relatively short time-frame, our primary immediate strategy involves opening up conversation about “economic disaster preparedness”. This frame focuses on shifting civic and localized responses through collective mobilization and advocacy, while also intervening to alleviate panicked or dissociative responses that often typify public reactions to the prospect of economic crisis. Such mobilization needs to be communally driven, so our intention is not to predetermine an agenda for action absent broader stakeholder input. As examples, however, we anticipate working with community and civic stakeholders to identify action steps in key areas – including transportation, healthcare, mental health supports, food, housing, criminal justice, youth programs, and employment. Our goal is to identify municipal policy steps that can mitigate economic crisis in these areas, as well as collaborating in identifying community-driven programs and partnerships that leverage existing resources and assets and identify opportunities for rapid development of new resources where needed. Our initial proposed format will involve a workshop with both panel discussion and opportunities for issue focused break out discussion, in collaboration with community and university partners.

[1] For a brief summation of contemporary critiques, view “The Next Crash”, a video tutorial by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. For media coverage, see, e.g. Gina Heeb, “More than 70% of U.S. economists think a US recession will strike by the end of 2021.”, Markets Insider, August 19, 2019. For more detailed analysis and discussion, see the National Association of Business Economics NABE Outlook Survey, June 2019.

[2] Cecilia Menjivar and Maria E. Enchautegui, “Confluence of the Economic Recession and Immigration Laws in the Lives of Latino Immigrant Workers in the United States”, Immigrant Vulnerability and Resilience, at p. 105 (2015); Marie Gottschalk, “The Great Recession and the Great Confinement: The Economic Crisis and the Future of Penal Reform”, In Richard Rosenfeld et al, eds., Contemporary Issues in Criminological Theory and Research, at p. 343 (2011).