Survey Seeks Feedback on Elm City Resident Card
(9/28/2012) Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and community advocates today announced the release of a new survey aimed at soliciting feedback from New Haven residents on the Elm City Resident Card. The survey asks questions about how residents currently use the card, as well as questions about features that residents may wish to see added in the future, including a debit card function.
Five years ago, New Haven became the first municipality in the nation to offer identification cards to all residents regardless of immigration status. For many, the card served as the only available government identification to show their New Haven residence when seeking services, interacting with police, and opening bank accounts.
At the time, outside groups used the card as a platform for hate and ignorance, and Fair Haven residents were the subject of retaliatory raids by federal immigration agents seeking to undermine the community and the inclusive message of the card. But New Haven residents would not be bullied. Since then, nearly 11,000 cards have been issued, enabling card holders to access basic government services, apply for jobs, access financial services and more. The first series of cards issued in 2007 have begun to expire, and 257 people have since renewed their expired cards.
Card holders have reported using the card to open bank accounts, cash checks, obtain employment, verify identity for credit card purchases, access public transit, interact with utility companies, access food pantries, apply for bus passes, and even to obtain a Costco membership. In the past year and a half, approximately 60 people have used the card as primary identification to open bank accounts at Start Community Bank.
The City remains committed to offering the card, expanding services, and continuing to reach new residents about the importance and value of the card.
“Five years ago, the City made a powerful statement about what it means to be an open and welcoming community. With the creation of the Elm City Resident Card, we chose to define our community not by failed federal immigration policies, but instead by what we know and see every day. We are residents of this City because we live here, work here, shop here, send our children to school here, worship here, and pay our taxes here. That statement is as relevant today as it was five years ago. This survey is an important first step and an opportunity to reach out to residents about what this card represents, and to begin to consider new ways to keep this card and its message useful and relevant,” said Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
The City has partnered with local community groups, residents, and City departments and agencies to distribute the survey. Starting today, the survey will be available online on the City of New Haven website, on social media sites, and in the Mayor’s weekly email message to constituents. The New Haven Public Schools, Youth@Work, Elm City Communities, the Prison Re-Entry Initiative, Junta for Progressive Action and others have also partnered to help distribute the survey. Those who complete the survey will be eligible to win a $250 gift card.
"Junta for Progressive Action supports the City of New Haven's efforts and will help to continue to expand the use of the card and its work to engage the immigrant community in the life of this great city!,” said Sandra Trevino, Executive Director of Junta.
The survey can be found at www.cityofnewhaven.com/residentsurvey.
The survey was created with the assistance of Community Financial Resources, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering under-banked communities through education and low-cost banking and payment tools, including prepaid debit cards. Community Financial Resources’ work for the City was paid for with funds from a $30,000 grant from First City Fund Corporation.
The results of the survey will be used to evaluate responses to a future request for proposals to financial services institutions and other entities interested in providing a debit card function for the resident card.
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