CITY CELEBRATES LAUNCH OF SECOND YEAR OF ELM CITY RESIDENT CARD PROGRAM
(7/24/2008) NEW HAVEN- At a celebration in City Hall today, Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. announced plans for the second year of the Elm City Resident Card Program. In its first year, the Elm City Resident Card program issued 6,507 identification cards, 1,500 more than the City forecasted when the program was developed. Of those more than 6,000 cards, 1,058 were issued to children. “The real measure of success for this program is the impact we’ve had on the lives of our fellow residents,” said DeStefano. “To hear individuals from all walks of life tell us about how this ID card has improved their lives or made access to basic services more convenient, demonstrates that this program is very valuable.”
Kica Matos, Community Services Administrator for the City announced that three major foundations had signed on as funders for year two of the program. “We are very excited about the commitment these foundations have made to our program. Their support speaks volumes to the impact this program is having not only on residents of New Haven but on other cities and towns throughout the nation that, just as we do, acknowledge the need for community integration efforts,” said Matos.
The three foundations: The Four Freedoms Fund, The J.M. Kaplan Fund and The Atlantic Philanthropies are national supporters of the Elm City Resident Card. “Atlantic is proud to support the Elm City Resident Card project – it is a nationally recognized model for immigrant integration, and a credit to the vision of the City of New Haven and its Board of Aldermen,” said Rebecca Rittgers, Program Executive for Atlantic’s Reconciliation and Human Rights Program in the United States. “The program has had many positive impacts, but perhaps the most significant is that the card has helped to increase the number of immigrants who are ‘coming out of the shadows,’ and participating more fully in the civic life of New Haven.”
Also announced at today’s celebration was a new debit feature the card will include that will allow cardholders the benefit of using their ID as a debit card in ATM machines and at point-of--sale locations. Professor Raul Hinojosa of the University of California, Los Angeles traveled to New Haven today to speak about this technology. “More than 48 percent of the African American Community and more than 30 percent of the Latino community in the nation is unbanked and does not have an active checking or savings account at a bank. This technology becomes almost a virtual bank through which residents can manage their funds, receive payment from their employer and more,” said Hinojosa. Hinojosa stated that more than 50,000 individuals nationwide have already taken advantage of this “virtual bank” program.
The new feature will also facilitate low-cost remittances to families in Mexico, Guatemala and Ecuador while allowing for free bill pay and payroll direct deposit. “By offering these features we advance the initial driving force behind this program which revolved around providing financial services to the unbanked populations of our City while promoting public safety,” said Matos.
The incentive program for the Elm City Resident Card also continues to grow. Business partners throughout the City continue to offer a number of discounts to cardholders, a program that is expected to attract new merchants in this second year.
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