NLC Launches New Phase of Financial Empowerment Program to Help Cities Reduce Harmful Effects of Fines & Fees

January 30, 2023 - (3 min read)

Washington, DC – The National League of Cities has launched a new phase of its signature Cities Addressing Fines & Fees Equitably (CAFFE) Initiative with eight cities committed to helping residents reduce debt while boosting financial security. CAFFE, which first launched in 2019 with support from JPMorgan Chase, has led the way in helping cities use proven approaches and strategies to reduce the harmful effects of municipal fines and fees on residents’ financial health. 

The eight cities selected for the 2023 cohort include Birmingham, AL, Dallas, TX, Las Vegas, NV, Maywood, IL, Montgomery, AL, Pueblo, CO, St. Louis, MO, and Washington, DC. Each city will access tailored support from experts within NLC and other recognized organizations supporting financial empowerment. Cities will learn strategies to implement policy reforms that make fines and fees structures more equitable and improve access to financial empowerment services by their residents.  

“NLC has been a leader in this space, helping cities recognize their critical role in building financial security and supporting financial empowerment among residents. We are pleased to launch a new phase of this program at a time when cities are examining how fines and fees impact their most vulnerable residents,” said NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony.  

By examining policies and programs, CAFFE allows cities to improve the financial stability of residents who are at risk of losing income and assets, or (re)entering the judicial system due to unpaid debt to city governments. Reforms that remedy unfair statutes and collection practices such as ability to pay rules, and incorporate financial empowerment services into collections strategies, or allow alternative methods of payment, such as partial or online payments, has the potential to improve economic mobility for residents and allow cities to recoup lost revenue from unpaid fines and fees. 

 “Local fines and fees create a disproportionate amount of financial shocks to underserved communities, especially communities of color. Finding sustainable and equitable solutions to them will be key as communities continue to navigate the impact of the pandemic, said Sarah Willis-Ertur, Head of Financial Health, Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. “We’re thrilled to help bring the CAFFE program to more cities as they work to address systemic challenges to citizens’ financial health.”  

Participating cities will engage in peer learning opportunities both virtual and in-person and receive tailored technical assistance. This includes grant support to assess and reform inequitable policies in the court system and strategies to implement innovative financial empowerment approaches. Municipal leaders and staff will also have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the 2019 cohort and their work to assess and structurally reform fines and fees.  

Learn more about Cities Addressing Fines & Fees.


The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people across the country. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.