The Bottom LineThe Bottom Line

Economics In Brief: Black Lives Matter Goes After Student Debt

Also, D.C. removes its subminimum tipped wage.

(Photo by Andre Hunter / Unsplash)

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BLM Foundation Launches Student Debt Relief Fund

The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear oral arguments around the Biden Administration’s plan for federal student loan forgiveness in February. With mass student debt relief stalled, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has announced a $500,000 relief fund aimed at Black former and current college students, the AP reports.

Through a public application process, the organization plans to grant 500 awardees with relief payments of $750-$4,500, depending upon their total debt burden. “We could sit around and wait, and hope that legislators do what they promised by providing loan relief, or we could step up and do it ourselves. And we’ve decided to do the latter,” BLM foundation board chair Cicley Gay tells the AP.

D.C. Eliminates Subminimum Tipped Wage

With Washington, D.C. residents voting to pass Initiative 82, the District of Columbia Tip Credit Elimination Act of 2021, the District joins seven states that do not allow a tip credit for tipped wage workers.

The legislation eliminates the subminimum tipped wage of $5.35 an hour and ensures the district’s tipped workers will receive at least its full hourly minimum wage of $16.10 by the year 2027, Nonprofit Quarterly reports: “In the nation’s capital, this means that service industry workers, 70 percent of whom are Black, will receive the highest raise in over 100 years.”

Questions Emerge In Boston’s Move Toward Participatory Budgeting

Boston’s new Office of Participatory Budgeting is set to open in fiscal year 2024, beginning next July. But CommonWealth Magazine reports that the city officials and community organizations partnering on the program – meant to give residents decision-making power over public dollars – have not yet been able to iron out basic details on the program’s governance and scope. Keep an eye out for Next City’s upcoming story on New York City’s participatory budgeting efforts.

Airbnb Bans Plantation Listings

Airbnb announced this week that the platform will no longer allow U.S. users to list houses where enslaved people used to live, BuzzFeed News reports. Users will be banned from renting out “slave houses,” or any listings located on former plantations “where enslaved people lived or worked, if structures that existed during the time of slavery are still present on the property,” Airbnb said in its latest antidiscrimination report. Users will not be allowed to promote “slavery-related features as a selling point of a stay.”

“The only place now where plantations will be able to be listed [on Airbnb] is through specifically curated experiences that have historical value and are not meant to be a form of profit or entertainment,” an official with advocacy organization Color of Change tells BuzzFeed News.

Bonus read: “The original Buy Black movement uplifted entire communities. It can happen again,” in The Guardian.

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter.

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Aysha Khan is the managing editor at Next City.

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Tags: washington dcbostonairbnbparticipatory budgetingstudent debttipped workers

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