Parents sue the state for unlawfully denying medically fragile children in-home nursing

ALBUQUERQUE–Families struggling to care for kids who require round-the-clock care filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court last week against the New Mexico Human Services Department for failing to provide medically necessary in-home nursing hours as required by federal law. The families are also suing Western Sky Community Care Inc., Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, and Presbyterian Health Plan Inc. for failing to deliver required nursing services for medically fragile children despite being paid by the state for these services.

“All parents want their children to be safe and healthy, learning and progressing. The difference for parents like us is that we also lose sleep over the complicated logistics necessary to keep our three-year-old Caleb alive,” said Jeremy Vaughan, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and a law enforcement officer. “Our many difficulties have just been exacerbated by Covid and then made worse when I was shot in the line of duty and left unable to lift more than five pounds.”

Like other medically fragile children, Caleb Vaughan has a chronic and life threatening medical condition. He was born with Down Syndrome and at nine-months old developed a rare seizure disorder that causes dozens of seizures a day. He requires a wheelchair, is visually impaired and nonverbal, severely cognitively delayed, requires oxygen at night, and is primarily fed through a gastrostomy tube. 

Caleb was approved for 173 hours a month of in-home professional medical care based on his medical conditions, but he only receives 76. Federal law requires states and insurance companies contracted with the state to provide these hours of care to qualifying children like Caleb.

A University of New Mexico Center for Development & Disability survey of children on the Medically Fragile Waiver–a large portion of the 400 medically fragile children in the state–found that only about half of those children were receiving the full amount of nursing hours they qualified for.

Disability Rights New Mexico discussed the lack of required in-home nursing for medically fragile children with HSD in October 2021. Despite HSD’s knowledge of these long-standing systemic problems, there has been no apparent progress in ensuring medically fragile children get the care they need and are entitled to.

“In-home nursing has an incalculable impact on our son’s development and interaction with others. It greatly improves his and our family’s quality of life and makes it possible for him to enter the wider community,” said Victoria Vaughan, Caleb’s mother, who also works for law enforcement. “He brings so much joy to us, to Tommy–his six-year-old brother, and to the community. You should’ve seen his response to the encouragement and cheers when we took him to Walmart so he could practice walking on his own in a public space with a gait trainer. That experience would have been impossible without his nurse.” 

Vaughan continued, “There are, unfortunately, frequent more serious occasions where we need a professional nurse. On our seven minute drive home from physical therapy this week, Caleb started to sputter and choke. Our nurse told me to pull the car over immediately. She attended to him and ensured his airway was clear until we got home and she could check his oxygen levels. I cannot attend to Caleb and drive at the same time. Without nursing care, parents don’t have many options in situations like that and are faced with difficult decisions.”

“Children are healthier and happier when they are with their families and community, not relegated to institutional care,” said Jesse Clifton, an attorney at Disability Rights New Mexico. “The state is obligated under federal law to ensure that every medically fragile child in New Mexico has access to medically necessary in-home nursing. It is legally bound to hold the managed care organizations named as defendants accountable to their contractual obligations. Instead, the state continues to pay care organizations under contract to provide Medicaid services despite their failure to do so, and already burdened families suffer the consequences.” 

“Unfortunately, we just don’t receive enough of the hours of in-home nursing that Caleb qualifies for. It impacts our jobs, our marriage, friends, finances, other family members, and our son Tommy. We are in a state of chronic, all encompassing stress,” said Jeremy Vaughan. “Caleb goes to a school that serves the blind and visually impaired. If he is sick, which is very often, we have to figure out a plan. Who’s leaving their job that day? Who doesn’t have court that day? And we can never plan for the long term because we never know if we have a nurse in six months. In-home nursing alleviates some of the stress, but only if we actually get it.”

A nursing shortage exists in other medical fields but other medical service providers have hired traveling nurses from other states or countries to fill vacancies. The defendants have not attempted a similar strategy to increase obligatory medical care for New Mexico’s most vulnerable children. 

“In-home nurses provide an invaluable service to our loved ones who need professional medical care at home, but they continue to be underpaid,” said Stephanie Welch, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty Workers’ Rights Director. “Everyone deserves to be compensated fairly for their work. Caring for children with special needs in their homes appeals to many nurses, but they must also make important financial decisions. To increase the number of nurses necessary to meet legal obligations to medically fragile children, the managed care companies should consider increasing pay.”

The M.G v. Scrase complaint can be found here.

Photos courtesy of the Vaughan family.

ACTION ALERT: Every Albuquerque resident needs access to safe and affordable housing, regardless of how they pay rent.

We need your help Monday, April 11 to urge the Albuquerque City Council to prohibit landlords from discriminating against renters who pay rent with housing assistance.

If passed, Ordinance 0-22-16, sponsored by Councilors Pat Davis and Brook Bassan, would make affordable housing accessible to thousands of New Mexico’s low-income families. It would update Albuquerque’s existing Human Rights Ordinance to prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to an applicant who will pay rent with a housing voucher, social security income, or any other lawful source of income. It would also stop landlords from imposing extra requirements — like higher security deposits — on those relying on rent subsidies. 

Make your voice heard! Give public comment in support at the hearing and/or contact city councilors and ask them to support the ordinance. Let them know that Albuquerque’s low-income renters need increased access to affordable housing!

WHAT: City of Albuquerque Finance & Government Operations Committee hearing on affordable housing

WHEN: Monday, April 11, 2022 at 5:00 P.M.

JOIN BY ZOOM OR IN PERSON: Council Committee Room, 9th Floor, Suite 9081 of the Albuquerque Government Center, One Civic Plaza NW.  

Zoom details will be available here: https://www.cabq.gov/council/events

WHAT YOU MIGHT SAY: Hello, my name is __________, I live in District ____. I am calling to urge Councilor ________ to support Ordinance 0-22-16. Every Albuquerque resident should have access to safe and affordable housing, regardless of how they pay their rent. Our city is already experiencing a huge increase in homelessness.  This ordinance would help ensure that low-income families can find affordable housing and remain housed. 

Find your city councilor here: https://www.cabq.gov/council/find-your-councilor

TUESDAY: Support strong regulations to enforce the new paid sick leave law!

Help ensure the Department of Workforce Solutions enacts meaningful paid sick leave enforcement!

We need your help to make the new paid sick leave law fair for all workers! Please attend a public hearing Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. and urge DWS to remove a proposed regulation that limits carry-over of accrued time off.

The Healthy Workplaces Act, which goes into effect July 1, 2022, will require private employers in New Mexico to provide paid sick leave to employees. Currently, half of New Mexican workers lack paid sick leave. 

The department has proposed other regulations that will enable it to effectively enforce the paid sick leave law. Please support its proposals that would ensure employers are educated and have clear information about the paid sick leave law; provide access to workers who speak languages other than English or who need assistance enforcing their rights; keep workers up to date on the status of their complaints; provide prompt resolution or enforcement of complaints; and provide consistency to workers and employers by having an enforcement process similar to wage theft enforcement.

However, the department’s proposed limit on carry-over of accrued leave should be removed. The department has proposed limiting the amount of unused leave that employers have to carry over to the next year to 64 hours, which would wrongly take away paid sick leave that workers have earned.

How to join the hearing:

When: Tuesday, April 5, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Where: 1596 Pacheco Street Suite 103, Santa Fe, NM 

or via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/95905700471?pwd=U1dJemVzS2l6dWRIQW9sRjAySEFpUT09

Meeting ID: 959 0570 0471

Passcode: td0MzM

Gov. signs bill ensuring New Mexicans who speak languages other than English can access state services

SANTA FE—Today, after over a decade of work by families and community leaders seeking fair access to state agencies for New Mexicans who don’t speak English, the governor signed a bill mandating state agencies create and implement plans for translation and interpretation services. 

House Bill 22: Limited English Access To State Programs goes into effect July 2023.

“This law will ensure more New Mexicans their rights to public resources, alleviate small grassroots organizations of the burden of being a catch-all to fill gaps in accessible services, and give informed decision making power and agency back to New Mexicans,” said Sachi Watase of the New Mexico Asian Family Center. “Our communities have asked for equitable language access. Today, we are thrilled that our state is taking this step to honor the commitment and decades of work from my predecessors and ancestors, community-based organizations and advocates, our bill sponsors, legislators and public officials, essential workers who have witnessed the harm language barriers have caused first-hand, and of course, the generations of individuals, families, communities and allies across New Mexico who have worked tirelessly to lay the groundwork to help us get here today.”

Sponsored by Representatives Kay Bounkeua, Patricia Roybal Caballero and Senators Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez and Mimi Stewart, HB 22 requires all state agencies with secretaries to collect data on language use by families the agency serves and to develop and implement plans for ensuring meaningful access to state services through translation and interpretation. 

“Our state’s cultures and languages are some of our greatest strengths,” said Verenice Peregrino Pompa, an attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “We thank the governor for demonstrating her commitment to racial justice by signing this bill into law. We also thank the bill’s sponsors and the NM Asian Family Center for leading this effort for fair access to state services for all New Mexicans regardless of the language they speak.”

The bill’s signing follows a February 25, 2022 federal court ruling reaffirming the New Mexico Human Services Department’s obligation to identify languages spoken by families trying to access food and medical assistance and to translate documents based on the demographics of those served by local agency offices. The court also ordered HSD to include information on the availability of language assistance services on Medicaid notices and to immediately fix its automated phone system to offer interpretation in multiple languages. 

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions entered into a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor in 2020, requiring the agency to translate the application and other documents used in the unemployment system. 

New Mexicans who speak languages other than English have reported barriers accessing food and medical assistance, which has been especially difficult during the pandemic. Some lost food assistance multiple times because notices about renewing benefits are only in English. Others reported having to pay private interpreters, despite having no income and having to deal with unnecessary in-person contact during the public health emergency. 

Community-based organizations that work directly with New Mexicans that speak languages other than English or Spanish, like the New Mexico Asian Family Center and the Refugee Well-being Project, currently have to divert limited resources in order to provide translation and interpretation services that are the state’s responsibility under federal and state law. 

Many New Mexicans speak languages other than English–including Vietnamese, Chinese, Dari, Arabic, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, and Diné. Many of these languages meet population thresholds that require translation of food and medical assistance applications and documents under federal law. However, the state typically only provides written documents in English and at times in Spanish, and oral interpreters can be difficult to reach without additional help. 

The court order can be found here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/language-access-order-hatten-gonzales-v-scrase-2022-03-01/

Information on HB 22 can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j6ZmNw7JHYZ3KoXzTwq-nU26SIQRUxeZ/view 

Bill capping small loan interest rates signed by the governor

SANTA FE—After years of hard work by advocates and community members fighting for fair credit for all New Mexicans, a bill requiring a 36% APR cap on storefront loans passed was signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham today.

“For years so many advocates and community members have fought for a fair and affordable interest rate cap. New Mexican families who’ve experienced crushing financial hardships because of predatory loans have come forward to tell their stories and the stories of their communities over and over, year after year. Today all that hard work has paid off.” said Lindsay Cutler, an attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “We are incredibly grateful to the leadership of the sponsors of HB 132, and to the governor for signing this important legislation for New Mexico families.” 

The law goes into effect January 1, 2023.

65% of lenders in New Mexico are located within 15 miles of Tribal lands. In McKinley County alone, there are more than 40 storefront lenders that made 69,618 loans in 2020 – nearly one loan for every resident. The Navajo Nation President and Council have expressed their strong support for a 36% cap.

New Mexico currently has one of the highest interest rate caps on installment loans in the country. Lenders across the state are taking advantage of triple-digit interest rates and draining hundreds of millions of dollars from hardworking New Mexicans each year. A family who borrows a storefront loan for just a few hundred dollars at the current rate cap of 175% APR will end up paying hundreds, even thousands of dollars in interest and fees.

Court orders HSD to make phone line available in more languages and notify Medicaid recipients of language assistance services

ALBUQUERQUE—Late Friday, a federal court reaffirmed the New Mexico Human Services Department’s obligation to identify languages spoken by families trying to access food and medical assistance and to translate documents based on the demographics of those served by local agency offices. The court also ordered HSD to include information on the availability of language assistance services on Medicaid notices and to immediately fix its automated phone system to offer interpretation in multiple languages. Currently, individuals who don’t speak English or Spanish cannot access interpretation services using the phone line.

“The court made it clear that the Asian language speaking community does matter and, contrary to HSD’s hurtful assertion, has a significant presence in our state,” said Sachi Watase of the New Mexico Asian Family Center. “Everyone, including those who speak languages other than English, deserves to have access to the resources intended to support them. Unfortunately, too many New Mexicans’ health and safety are predefined by these inequitable barriers. Lack of translation is part of a systemic problem that ignores the existence of Asians in New Mexico. We hope HSD will change course and make an honest effort to improve access to all New Mexicans.”

The ruling comes as New Mexicans urge Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to sign a bill mandating that state agencies plan for translation and interpretation services. For years advocates and community members have called for fair access to state services for New Mexicans who speak languages other than English. If House Bill 22: Limited English Access To State Programs is signed into law, it would require all state agencies with secretaries perform a language use analysis and develop an agency language access plan, similar to analysis required under federal food stamp regulations. 

“The court recognized that everyone, including those who speak languages other than English, should have access to food and medical assistance,” said Sovereign Hager, New Mexico Center on Law Poverty Legal Director. “The governor prioritized language access when she provided public information about Covid-19 vaccines and tests. HB 22 is an opportunity to institutionalize the same attention to equity across state agencies. New Mexicans ask her to sign this bill.”

Many New Mexicans speak languages other than English–including Vietnamese, Chinese, Dari, Arabic, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, and Diné/Navaho. Many of these languages meet population thresholds that require translation of food and medical assistance applications and documents under federal law. However, the state only provides written documents in English and Spanish and oral interpreters are nearly impossible to reach without additional help. 

The ruling was on a motion filed by applicants for food and medical assistance, represented by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty in the Deborah Hatten Gonzales v. David Scrase lawsuit. 

New Mexican families who speak languages other than English have reported barriers accessing food and medical assistance, which has been especially difficult during the pandemic. Some lost food assistance multiple times because notices about renewing benefits are only in English. Others reported having to pay private interpreters, despite having no income and having to deal with unnecessary in-person contact during the public health emergency. 

Despite repeated attempts since 2009 to bring these issues to HSD’s attention, the agency refused to address them. 

Currently, community-based organizations that work directly with New Mexicans that speak languages other than English or Spanish, like the New Mexico Asian Family Center and the Refugee Well-being Project, have to divert limited resources and take on additional clients to provide translation and interpretation services that are the state’s responsibility under federal and state law. 

The long-running Hatten-Gonzales lawsuit was originally filed in 1989. In 2016, the court held former HSD Secretary Brent Earnest in contempt for failing to remove systemic barriers to assistance for eligible families applying for food and Medicaid assistance and appointed a Special Master to monitor and make recommendations to the department.

The court said a written order on Friday’s ruling will be forthcoming.

The January 2022 court order can be found here: https://cookieless-offload.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/nmpovertylaw/Order-Language+Access-DHG-2022-01-21-compressed.pdf

The September 2021 order for HSD to implement a corrective action plan can be found here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r-N6N8KCIk1sJDxxxywIY5Zz7dIeRf81/view?usp=sharing

Information on  HB 22 can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j6ZmNw7JHYZ3KoXzTwq-nU26SIQRUxeZ/view 

MEDIA ADVISORY

Court hearing FRIDAY: HSD must translate food stamp applications immediately, argue plaintiffs

ALBUQUERQUE—On Friday in a federal court, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty will argue that census data shows the New Mexico Human Services Department should begin translating food and medical assistance applications and notices into Vietnamese, Chinese, and Diné/Navajo immediately.

In January 2022, Judge Kenneth Gonzales ordered HSD to collect data on the languages spoken by New Mexicans served by the state’s food and medical assistance program and affirmed the agency’s legal obligation to translate documents based on the demographics of those served by local agency offices. The ruling was on a motion filed by applicants for food and medical assistance, represented by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty in the Deborah Hatten Gonzales v. David Scrase lawsuit. 

Plaintiffs have provided census data showing that there are more than 100 low-income families that primarily speak Vietnamese, Chinese, and Diné/Navajo in areas served by a single office, which under federal law requires translation of the food and medical assistance application and other documents. Plaintiffs argue no further research is needed on these groups while HSD collects data on other non-English speaking populations in New Mexico.

For years advocates and community members have called for fair access to state services for New Mexicans who speak languages other than English. This last session the Legislature passed House Bill 22: Limited English Access To State Programs, which awaits the governor’s signature. If signed into law, it would require all state agencies with secretaries perform a language use analysis and develop an agency language access plan, similar to analysis required under federal food stamp regulations. 

New Mexican families who speak languages other than English have reported barriers accessing food and medical assistance, which has been especially difficult during the pandemic. 

WHAT: 

Hearing on language access motion in Deborah Hatten Gonzales v. David Scrase

WHO:

  • U.S. District Judge Kenneth J. Gonzales
  • Counsel for plaintiffs: Sovereign Hager, Verenice Peregrino Pompa, and Teague González of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and Daniel Yohalem, civil rights attorney
  • Counsel for HSD

WHEN: 

Friday, February 25, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE:

Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse, 4th Floor Chama Courtroom, 333 Lomas Avenue, Albuquerque 87102

*The hearing will take place in person. Masks are required in all federal courtrooms.

Judge Gonzales January, 2022 court order can be found here: https://cookieless-offload.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/nmpovertylaw/Order-Language+Access-DHG-2022-01-21-compressed.pdf

The plaintiffs’ reply brief with census data can be found here: http://nmpovertylaw.org/doc-1036-deborah-hatten-gonzales-reply-on-motion-for-clarification_nmclp_2022-02-18/

The September 2021 order for HSD to implement a corrective action plan can be found here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r-N6N8KCIk1sJDxxxywIY5Zz7dIeRf81/view?usp=sharing

Action Alert: Key legislation awaits the governor’s signature. You can help!

Your dedication and countless phone calls, emails, and comments in hearings worked! Huge efforts to stop predatory lending by capping interest rates on small loans, parity for Native language teachers, access to state services in languages other than English, and easy enrollment in healthcare could be a reality for New Mexico’s families. 

We need your help to get these bills signed and over the finish line! Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has until March 9 to sign legislation.

Please contact the governor this week by calling her office at (505) 476-2200 and leave a message with her office to “Please sign HB 22, HB 60, HB 95, and HB 132.” You can also email her using this form: https://www.governor.state.nm.us/contact-the-governor/.

Bills awaiting signature: 

HB 22: Limited English Access to State Programs requires state agencies to develop plans to provide help in languages other than English, ensuring that more New Mexicans can access state services. 

HB 60: Native American Language Certificate Salaries ensures that Native language teachers are treated fairly, on par with other teachers, promoting language preservation and student educational success.

HB 95 Easy Enrollment Act allows uninsured residents  to use their state income tax returns as an easy way to get information on available health coverage plans and to enroll in any plans they are eligible for. 

HB 132: Interest Rates for Certain Loans requires an all-inclusive 36% APR cap on storefront loans and ensures that New Mexico’s laws prevent abusive and predatory financial practices. 

Thank you for your tireless efforts! Let’s get the bills passed made into law.

Bill ensuring New Mexicans who speak languages other than English can access state services passes Legislature

SANTA FE—HB 22, a bill mandating state agencies create and implement plans for translation and interpretation services, awaits the governor’s signature. The bill passed the Senate unanimously today.

Sponsored by Representatives Kay Bounkeua, Patricia Roybal Caballero and Senators Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez and Mimi Stewart, House Bill 22: Limited English Access To State Programs requires all state agencies with secretaries to collect data on language use by families the agency serves and to develop and implement plans for ensuring meaningful access to state services through translation and interpretation.

“All New Mexicans deserve equal access to state services, regardless of the language they speak,” said Sachi Watase of the New Mexico Asian Family Center. “HB 22 will help to rectify state agencies’ current lack of adequate translation and interpretation.”

New Mexican families and community leaders have been seeking access to translation and interpretation at state agencies for over a decade. New Mexicans who speak languages other than English have reported barriers accessing food and medical assistance, which has been especially difficult during the pandemic. Some lost food assistance multiple times because notices about renewing benefits are only in English. Others reported having to pay private interpreters, despite having no income and having to deal with unnecessary in-person contact during the public health emergency. 

Community-based organizations that work directly with New Mexicans that speak languages other than English or Spanish, like the New Mexico Asian Family Center and the Refugee Well-being Project, currently have to divert limited resources in order to provide translation and interpretation services that are the state’s responsibility under federal and state law. 

“A plan is the critical first step so agencies can determine how to best provide the necessary translation and interpretation services that are required so New Mexicans can access state services,” said Verenice Peregrino Pompa, an attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “The bill will increase coordination among agencies by having the plans reported to the Legislative Finance Committee and the governor.”

Many New Mexicans speak languages other than English–including Vietnamese, Chinese, Dari, Arabic, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, and Diné. Many of these languages meet population thresholds that require translation of food and medical assistance applications and documents under federal law. However, the state typically only provides written documents in English and at times in Spanish and oral interpreters can be difficult to reach without additional help. 

On January 21, 2022 a federal court ordered the New Mexico Human Services Department to collect data on the languages spoken by New Mexicans served by the state’s food and medical assistance program and affirmed the agency’s legal obligation to translate documents based on the demographics of those served by local agency offices. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are represented by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

The court order can be found here: https://cookieless-offload.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/nmpovertylaw/Order-Language+Access-DHG-2022-01-21-compressed.pdf

Information on  HB 22 can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j6ZmNw7JHYZ3KoXzTwq-nU26SIQRUxeZ/view

Bill capping small loan interest rates passes the Legislature

Bill awaits the governor’s signature

SANTA FE—After years of hard work by advocates and community members fighting for fair credit for all New Mexicans, a bill requiring an all-inclusive 36% APR cap on storefront loans passed the Legislature today.

House Bill 132 passed the House by a vote of 51 to 18. It passed the Senate by a vote of 19 to eight.

“For decades New Mexico has allowed huge out-of-state companies to charge hundreds of millions of dollars in interest, specifically targeting our native communities, but thanks to the hard work of so many partners, of the sponsors, and of the Legislature, we may finally pass real consumer protections for our people,” said Austin Weahkee from NM Native Vote. 

Governor Lujan Grisham has issued an executive message and it is expected that she will sign the bill. If the bill is signed into law, it will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

“A fair interest rate cap for all New Mexicans has been a long time coming,” said Lindsay Cutler, an attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “We are incredibly grateful to the leadership of the sponsors of HB 132, Representatives Herrera, Garratt, Anderson, Ely and Speaker Egolf, as well as Senators Duhigg and Soules for their hard work to get the bill through the legislative process. For years so many advocates and community members have fought for this day. New Mexican families who’ve experienced crushing financial hardships because of predatory loans have come forward to tell their stories and the stories of their communities over and over, year after year. Today all that hard work has paid off.” 

65% of lenders in New Mexico are located within 15 miles of Tribal lands. In McKinley County alone, there are more than 40 storefront lenders that made 69,618 loans in 2020 – nearly one loan for every resident. The Navajo Nation President and Council have expressed their strong support for a 36% cap.

New Mexico currently has one of the highest interest rate caps on installment loans in the country. Lenders across the state are taking advantage of triple-digit interest rates and draining hundreds of millions of dollars from hardworking New Mexicans each year. A family who borrows a storefront loan for just a few hundred dollars at the current rate cap of 175% APR will end up paying hundreds, even thousands of dollars in interest and fees.  

“No one should be allowed to charge triple-digit interest rates,” said Ona Porter, Founder Emerita of Prosperity Works. “No one should have to choose between paying their rent and making payments on a triple-digit loan that often keeps them trapped endlessly. New Mexicans deserve access to fair and responsible credit.”