Housing Program Director Anabell Martinez’s testimony on Bill 24-553, “Public Health Emergency Credit Alert Amendment Act of 2021.”
Thank you, Chairman Phil Mendelson, and the committee of the Whole to have this opportunity
to provide a written testimony in support of Bill 24-553, Public Health Emergency Credit Alert
Amendment Act of 2021. My name is Anabell Martinez, and I am the Housing Program
Director of the Central American Resource Center-CARECEN.
CARECEN was founded in 1981 and fosters the comprehensive development of the Latino
community by providing direct services, while promoting grassroots empowerment, civic
engagement, and human rights advocacy. Our organization works to help integrate our clients to
increase their success in their new community.
CARECEN serves low to moderate income Latinos in DC, home to now 77,055, or
approximately 11% of the overall population. However, sixty one percent of the working
population in D.C. identifies as Limited English Proficient is Spanish speaking. These workers
tend to earn 25 to 40% less than English proficient workers. In addition to having low to
moderate incomes, CARECEN participants are more likely to rent than own their homes.
During Covid-19, the Latino population has been of the demographics most adversely affected
by Covid-19. As low-income clients they have been unable to save adequately to prepare for the
crisis, and because they work primarily in the service industry almost all of them have been laid
off or had their hours reduced. Every day we see how our low-income clients sacrificed the few
dollars they earned in order to at least pay their necessities or a portion of their debt. An
example is Mr. Ventura. He is a senior who is still working so he can continue paying his
mortgage. During the COVID-19 pandemic, his income was reduced, and he was unable to pay
the full amount of his mortgage. As a result, he had to sacrifice other important expenses, such
as food, because was afraid that his credit would be damaged if he could not pay his mortgage.
I thank councilmember Robert C. White, Jr. and the other councilmembers who introduced this
bill. This bill is important for low-income families and individuals like Mr. Ventura, who faced
loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adding a consumer statement on their
credit record will allow our clients to avoid being penalized as a result of financial hardship that
was outside of their control. Passage of Bill 24-553 will thus give many in our Latino
community better access to services requiring a credit check, such as opening a bank account,
renting an apartment, applying for an insurance, etc.
Moving forward, CARECEN support this Bill 24-553 and on behalf of our Latino community,
we thank all councilmembers for this bill.