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Money is Waiting for Black Organizations

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By Laura L. Klure, Special to the Black Voice News –

In this economy, you might think everyone is carefully hanging on to every dollar they can possibly keep – so why is the State of California accumulating so much Unclaimed Property? We printed information about the State Controller’s website for Unclaimed Property a few months ago, and the amounts of money sitting there are still staggering.

When people move or lose their homes, or when businesses and organizations cease to exist, such changes result in more money being unclaimed.

It’s a good idea for anyone with access to the internet to periodically check the Controller’s website, which is located at www.scoweb.sco.ca.gov. You can also find it by searching for “California unclaimed property.”

You are allowed to check the website for other people, including friends and family, and for organizations you care about.

This writer’s brother, Ron Gallup, has been alerting the NAACP and other non-profit organizations in Northern California about their funds that are wai t ing to be claimed.

Statewide, NAACP chapters and projects have had a total of more than $47,000 in unclaimed property listed, with some of the biggest claims belonging to groups in the San Francisco Bay Area.

NAACP Branches in the Inland Empire have smaller sums available, with $633 for the Riverside NAACP Child Care Center, and $100 listed for the Barstow Branch. Waudier “Woodie” Rucker- Hughes, president of the Riverside NAACP Branch, said she did not know why $633 belonging to the NAACP Child Care Center happened to go to the state. Rucker- Hughes said NAACP chapters should be checking for unclaimed funds. She said, “We’re very thankful that you’re on the lookout for us, and we’re encouraging all our other branches to do the same.”

Searching in various ways is important, since the website does not have space for long full names, such as the “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” Try initials or partial group names, if your first efforts don’t bear fruit. Searching for “Black Student,” for example, can bring up hits for various groups with longer names. For individuals, try using an initial, instead of the full first name.

If you don’t enter the city where you live now, you might find funds related to previous residences.

Similarly, when searching for organizations, try leaving out the city. Just searching for “Urban League” will show you more than a dozen claims for groups throughout the state. The San Diego League would do well to claim their $1,500, and there is more than $1,200 for the Oakland Urban League of the Bay Area.

Organizations often lose funds that were in inactive bank accounts, especially if board members have changed and nobody was monitoring the account.

Individuals, businesses, and groups can also fail to receive some payments if the address was wrong, or some typo caused the mailed check to be returned to sender.

If you formerly lived or worked in another state, it might be good to check for unclaimed funds in that states. It is also possible for funds belonging to Californians to be held in another state if the paying business was located there. Most states have easily searchable Unclaimed Property websites, but some do not give access to as much information as California’s does. In some states you must file an application to know how much money is involved in a claim, and there is always the possibility that it could be just pennies, or only a few dollars.

Organizations should spread the word to their affiliates in other states, since they all might benefit from checking for unclaimed property. NAACP groups in many other states have funds available.

For example, in Michigan there are 38 NAACP claims listed; 28 in New York; 26 in Florida; 17 in Pennsylvania; 15 in Georgia; and so on. Try searching for just “unclaimed property” plus the state name, and an appropriate state website can be found.

At a time when agencies trying to help homeless and disabled people are stretched beyond their limits, it’s amazing to see such claims as over $1,200 for Homeless Outreach in Riverside; or more than $22,000 for a Mental Health Association of San Bernardino (which apparently no longer exists). There is a refund listed with $200 for the AME Church in Corona, and about $2,800 for Church of the Star in San Bernardino.

The Controller’s website lists too many claims to mention them all here. Try searching for: “Black Women,” “African American,” or the name of your workers’ union. A search for “Martin Luther King” brings up various entities named after him, including more than $12,000 for King Hospital in Los Angeles County (the hospital is currently being re-built). A search for “National Black” resulted in 48 claims, including $3,000+ for the National Black Caucus in Modesto, and a big list of claims for the National Black Review in Reseda.

Celebrities are not immune from having funds escheat to the state: there are claims adding up to over $9,200 for Aretha Frankl in, and there’s $571 belonging to Bill Cosby. But be reminded that documentation is required, so you cannot claim things that do not belong to you.

There is no need to hire someone to search for you, but professional unclaimed property searchers do exist. In California, they may charge up to a maximum of 10% of the claims they helped you recover.

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