By Bishop Garry Tyson | Senior Paster, Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church

As a community leader and Pastor of Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church, I spend a lot of time talking with people about what’s weighing on their minds. Not surprisingly, conversations often turn to money: about spending it, saving it, and earning it.

The past few years have produced countless personal and financial challenges for people, many  of which still persist. We may be a few years removed from the “end” of the pandemic, but it’s clear that many people are still struggling to find their footing right now.

One way some have reclaimed their financial independence is through app-based work. I know several people who deliver for app-based services. They say it’s been a game changer–helping them pay for college, manage unexpected medical bills, or just cover monthly living expenses — on their own terms and schedules. 

Maybe you’re a caregiver. Maybe you’re a student. Or maybe you have a full-time job – but it’s still not quite enough to make ends meet. The fact is, people of all walks of life need options to earn additional income. That’s one of the reasons I became involved with the Washington Alliance for Innovation and Independent Work. App-based work opportunities have helped so many individuals and families regain control of their financial responsibilities, giving them the freedom to earn when and where they want. I’ve seen the good these tools can do, which is why we need to promote policies that encourage more opportunity. 

We have strong evidence to support the economic impact of app-based work right now. According to a 2022 survey, DoorDash earners, or “Dashers”, said delivery work fills a financial gap. Of those surveyed, 60% indicated app-based work like food delivery helps them pay their monthly bills, while 42% said the income they earn from app-based work helped cover unexpected medical bills, and 35% said the extra income helped them care for their family.

Unfortunately some cities have reduced these services to a revenue generator by tacking extra fees onto food and other app-based delivery services. I think that’s a mistake. The truth is, extra fees hurt consumers and low income communities because they quickly become a tax on those communities.

When you add a fee to an order, it makes delivery less affordable for families and makes them less likely to order. That means fewer orders for restaurants and grocery stores, especially in low-income communities. It also means less work for drivers who are using app-based work to make ends meet. We should be doing more to incentivize this kind of work rather than finding new ways to penalize it.

People will always look for new ways to meet the needs of their families. App-based work does exactly that. It helps immigrants establish themselves in new communities. It helps workers with full-time jobs who need to earn extra income. And it offers a lifeline to laid off or furloughed workers to keep bills paid until they find new employment.

These services need to stay accessible and affordable to all because people are depending on them, whether for income or sources of food. For example, more than half of consumers surveyed said they had used DoorDash to provide a meal for someone who could not leave their own house, or was unable to prepare a meal.

The people I serve — individuals, families, low income communities and minority-owned businesses — they all see app-based work as a path forward. And that’s something we should all get behind. Join me as we work to advocate for policies that promote economic innovation and equal opportunities. Let’s keep app-based work affordable for all in this new, independent marketplace and create hope where it’s most needed.