Voices – Coalition on Human Needs https://www.chn.org Tue, 14 Sep 2021 22:38:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 152997162 COVID made Long-Term Struggles Worse — But Congress Prevented Poverty for Millions, and Must Act Now to Sustain Major Progress  https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-made-long-term-struggles-worse-but-congress-prevented-poverty-for-millions-and-must-act-now-to-sustain-major-progress/ Tue, 14 Sep 2021 22:38:27 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7457 Poverty declined from 2019 to 2020 despite soaring unemployment. Here’s why: Congress’ actions to provide COVID relief lifted millions of people out of poverty. The “stimulus” (Economic Impact) payments helped nearly 11.7 million people out of poverty.  Expanded unemployment insurance lifted 5.5 million out of poverty. The stimulus payments were new; the expanded unemployment insurance lifted ten times the number of people out of poverty as in 2019 (524,000 were helped in that year). This is powerful evidence that federal actions can provide essential help when people need it most.

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 Editor’s note: The following statement was released by Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs: 

“Poverty declined from 2019 to 2020 despite soaring unemployment. Here’s why: Congress’ actions to provide COVID relief lifted millions of people out of poverty.  The “stimulus” (Economic Impact) payments helped nearly 11.7 million people out of poverty.  Expanded unemployment insurance lifted 5.5 million out of poverty.  The stimulus payments were new; the expanded unemployment insurance lifted ten times the number of people out of poverty as in 2019 (524,000 were helped in that year).  This is powerful evidence that federal actions can provide essential help when people need it most.  We know from other surveys and from the ongoing pandemic that people are still in need.  There is more that Congress must do.  

“The Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) is a more useful estimate of poverty than the official poverty figures because it more accurately assesses income sources and expenditures. The Supplemental Poverty Measure declined from 11.8 percent in 2019 to 9.1 percent in 2020.  The official poverty measure shows over 37 million people in poverty in 2020, while the SPM estimates just under 30 million were poor last year.  The SPM is lower precisely because it counts federal supports not included in the official measure.    

“The hardships caused by the pandemic – and the help from federal programs – show up clearly in nutrition assistance.  School lunch programs lifted 582,000 children out of poverty in 2019, before COVID. But in 2020, only 157,000 children rose out of poverty because of school lunches; lockdowns kept children out of school, and efforts to deliver school meals to children did not provide an adequate substitute.  SNAP (formerly food stamps) did better for all age groups, with those lifted out of poverty rising from 2.6 million in 2019 to 2.9 million in 2020.   

“Other survey data with findings from this year show two important realities: (1) large numbers of people, especially those living with children and people of color, have experienced hardship in paying for necessities, before and during the pandemic; and (2) the official poverty measure is so low that millions of families with incomes above that line struggle to make ends meet. 

“During 2020, when the official child poverty measure was 16.1 percent and the SPM (taking benefits into account) was 9.7 percent, about 13 million adults living with children (about 14 percent) repeatedly reported their households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the previous week. These findings, compiled in frequent Household Pulse surveys conducted by the Census Bureau, found that close to one in five Latinx adults living with children and one in four Black adults with children faced such hardship.  In August of this year, despite a considerable decline in unemployment, still about 12 percent of adults with children reported not having enough to eat. 

“The Household Pulse survey data for this past August also still finds more than one in four of adults (27 percent) saying that they are finding it somewhat or very difficult to pay regular household bills, and 14 percent are behind in rent.   

“Whether from 2020 or 2021, the various surveys show terrible disparities for people of color and for children.  Using the 2020 Supplemental Poverty Measure, Black and Hispanic poverty exceeded 14 percent, while non-Hispanic White poverty was 6.5 percent.  While child poverty is much lower using the SPM than the official poverty measure, 9.7 percent of children were poor, higher than the 9.1 percent of all people in poverty. 

“Congress can make long-lasting progress if it enacts the Build Back Better budget supported by President Biden and Congressional leadership.  The expanded Child Tax Credit, which did not take effect until 2021, is providing demonstrably swift and far-reaching assistance. After just one monthly allotment of between $250 – $300 per child, the number of adults living with children reporting that their households did not have enough to eat in the past week dropped steeply, by 3.3 million or nearly one-third.  The Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy has estimated that the CTC’s expansion will cut child poverty by about 40 percent.  Providing children with better nutrition and greater stability by enabling families to pay bills more easily has been proven to improve their health, development, schooling, and future economic success. 

“We cannot sustain economic progress unless all our people are healthy, with the income needed to pay for necessities.  It is troubling that the number of uninsured rose from 26 million in 2019 to nearly 28 million in 2020, and that 60 million people said they were having trouble paying for usual household expenses in 2020.  Congress should enact the Build Back Better budget bill, to continue the progress made so far in lifting people out of poverty and helping to  increase earnings.” 

The Coalition on Human Needs has published “First Look at Poverty, Hardship and Health Insurance 2021,” which summarizes key findings from government sources. 

The Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) is an alliance of national organizations working together to promote public policies which address the needs of people with low incomes and other vulnerable populations. The Coalition’s members include civil rights, religious, labor, and professional organizations, service providers and those concerned with the well-being of children, women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. 

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September 11 https://www.chn.org/voices/september-11/ Sat, 11 Sep 2021 04:29:37 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7442 Twenty years ago I drove into work at the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, DC and saw the twin towers coming down on a television set just as I entered the building.  Our location was a short walk from the U.S. Capitol; we didn’t know what else might happen.  A few minutes later the Pentagon was attacked.  The Metro shut down as a precaution; we needed to evacuate, and I took as many people as possible to drive to their homes.  The streets were gridlocked; it took many hours. 

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The remains of the World Trade Center stands amid the debris in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Alexandre Fuchs)

Twenty years ago I drove into work at the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, DC and saw the twin towers coming down on a television set just as I entered the building.  Our location was a short walk from the U.S. Capitol; we didn’t know what else might happen.  A few minutes later the Pentagon was attacked.  The Metro shut down as a precaution; we needed to evacuate, and I took as many people as possible to drive to their homes.  The streets were gridlocked; it took many hours. 

September 11 was not the first time Americans faced tragedy.  But it did seem to launch us into a period where, with more and more means of being connected, securing those connections became instantly essential.  I didn’t even have a mobile phone yet – others in the car struggled to get through on jammed lines so families knew where we were.  I’ll admit I am no early adopter, but that day was the convincer to get a cellphone.  Right now it’s hard to imagine being so untethered. 

Lives were extinguished.  Catastrophe was almost instant.  We were shocked by our vulnerability, by the unpredictability of terrible loss.  

Whether visited upon us by malevolence or nature, the pace of catastrophe seems to be quickening.  Since September 11, we have seen death and disaster from violent storms and fires.  The pandemic is snatching more than 1,500 lives a day in the U.S. right now.  Other parts of the world are far more vulnerable to catastrophic weather, war, and famine.  But in this time of connectedness, it is harder to forget that vulnerability is both a feature and a bug of humankind. 

In what way are we so connected?  We have 24/7 access to news from all over the world.  We can see suffering if we choose to look.  But understanding does not come so easily.  People behave heroically when they have the chance to save lives – enough people, anyway, to give us hope.  But a lot more often, our constant access makes us fear, and that fear gets in the way of understanding.  It certainly gets in the way of the concerted action we need to make ourselves less vulnerable. 

Lives are precious, and we must do better to make our connectedness count – to use it to learn more about what can help and to share that knowledge in a way that makes millions of us want to invest in that help.  As unpredictable as a specific disastrous event may be, in many cases we can protect ourselves more effectively.  The construction of the World Trade Center towers was made cheaper by reducing access to emergency escape routes.  We build housing where it will be more subject to disastrous weather conditions.  We slash public health research and access to services.  Our intelligence services compete rather than cooperate.  Our elected officials often play to fear rather than unite us in constructive, life-saving action. 

It is very welcome that the Biden Administration is not playing to fear.  President Biden is trying to bring us together to do the right things to protect against COVID, and to invest in many ways to strengthen our defenses against disease and disaster. But he must compete against the fear- and hate-mongers.  It is ironic that the sources of connectedness that I seized upon after September 11 are so ceaselessly being used to divide us.   

We badly need a sense of national unity and purpose.  The Build Back Better agenda, with its investments in the multiple building blocks of economic and health security, contains the seeds of such national purpose. Through it, we really can join together to protect against racial injustice, poverty, environmental disaster and disease, and join together to advance towards a nation and world where no one is denied opportunity and security – and perhaps allowing even our founders’ vaunted pursuit of happiness.   

Maybe it seems like too much of a stretch to think that there are lessons from September 11 that should guide us towards Building Back Better.  To me, recognizing how very vulnerable we are means we have to work together to protect each other.  Not with arsenals, but with health, safety, equity, and opportunity in our daily lives. 

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship September 10, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-sept-10-2021/ Fri, 10 Sep 2021 14:40:08 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7435 The (mostly) back-to-school edition. Millions of kids are back in school – some for the first time in 18 months. Polling shows parents are happy about this – but also favor safety measures such as mask mandates. Although experts broadly agree students should be in school as opposed to learning virtually, there is much cause for concern. Kids now account for more than one in four COVID-19 cases nationwide. In just the past week, 1,400 schools had to close and go to virtual learning due to COVID-19 outbreaks. In Texas alone, 50,000 K-12 students have tested positive. And 13 employees of Miami-Dade County schools have died. 

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COVID-19 HardshipSeptember 10, 2021 

The (mostly) back-to-school edition. Millions of kids are back in school – some for the first time in 18 months. Polling shows parents are happy about this – but also favor safety measures such as mask mandates. Although experts broadly agree students should be in school as opposed to learning virtually, there is much cause for concern. Kids now account for more than one in four COVID-19 cases nationwide. In just the past week, 1,400 schools had to close and go to virtual learning due to COVID-19 outbreaks. In Texas alone, 50,000 K-12 students have tested positive. And 13 employees of Miami-Dade County schools have died. 

Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans in Congress as well as the Biden Administration have seemingly abandoned more than 10 million Americans – that’s the number of jobless workers who lost some or all of their unemployment benefits this week. “The cessation of this jobless aid, first put in place by Congress nearly 18 months ago, could upend the lives of millions of Americans still struggling to find work at a time when the pandemic’s delta variant is wreaking fresh havoc across a number of states,” the Washington Post reports. “It could also lead to a sharp pullback in spending, particularly in certain areas of the country, impacting a wide range of restaurants and other businesses that rely on consumer dollars.” 

As all this unfolds, corporate America has launched a last-minute lobbying blitz to convince lawmakers in Congress that they – along with the wealthiest Americans – shouldn’t have to pay their fair share of taxes. But we know that important investments such as health care, child care, education, improving opportunity for our nation’s workforce, fighting climate change, and promoting equity across lines of race, ethnicity and gender, must be paid for. That means everyone needs to pay their fair share. 

Please click here and tell Congress: make everyone pay their fair share so that we can invest in the things we need in order to build a robust country where everyone can prosper, and no one is left behind. 

 

40 million/ 

650,000+ 

40 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. since the pandemic began; more than 650,000 Americans have died. Experts say the actual number of COVID-19 cases is significantly higher than the number of confirmed cases. More than 4 million new cases were reported in the past four weeks alone. Tweet this.

 

1.8 million 

 

Before the first expanded Child Tax Credit payment was distributed in mid-July, the number of people living with children reporting that their household did not have enough to eat in the previous week was 10.7 million. Now, after two payments have gone out, that number is 8.9 million – a drop of 1.8 million. Tweet this.

 

+6% 

 

The number of hate crimes in the U.S. rose in 2020 to the highest level in 12 years, mainly due to attacks on Black and Asian people, the FBI just announced. In 2020, the FBI counted 7,759 hate crimes, up 6 percent from 2019 and the most since 2008, when 7,783 hate crimes were reported. Even so, one civil rights leader said the FBI’s figures are “woefully underreported.” Tweet this.

 

21.7%/7.1% 

Although robust government intervention prevented overall food insecurity from worsening in 2020, not everyone fared the same. Among Black households, 21.7 percent experienced food insecurity in 2020, compared to 7.1 percent of White households. This is a gap of 14.6 percentage points, up from 11.2 points in 2019, before the pandemic arrived. Food insecurity is defined as being unable to afford adequate nutritious food at some point in the previous year. Tweet this.

 

More than 10 million 

The number of Americans who lost some or all of their unemployment benefits this past week. It was the largest drop-off of its kind in U.S. history. Tweet this.

 

7 cents 

 

New research reveals that in states that cut unemployment benefits early, every dollar lost in benefits was offset by only about 7 cents in increased earnings. This sharply refutes arguments by UI opponents that unemployment benefits somehow discourage many people from working. Experts warn that the massive cutoff will drain the U.S. economy of $8 billion in September and October alone.

 

$700 million 

The Biden Administration announced this week it would provide $700 million in grants to meat-packing, farm, and grocery-store workers to help defray financial hardships these essential workers have faced. The grants will be distributed to state agencies, tribal entities, and nonprofit groups that support these workers, who were required to go into work even in the height of the pandemic. Eligible workers can receive up to $600.

 

72% 

The percent of large health care plans that are no longer making COVID-19 treatment free for patients, according to a recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The average COVID-19 hospitalization costs $40,000. Most insured patients won’t pay that entire bill, but for those who had to pay a share of the cost of their hospital stay, the average cost was $3,800.

 

600% 

The increase in daily COVID-19 cases in South Dakota since a giant motorcycle rally in the town of Sturgis in August drew more than 250,000 participants.

 

245% 

The spike in calls to poison control centers from people who are self-medicating with ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug usually used to treat cows and horses that some falsely claim works for COVID-19. The National Poison Data System, which collects data from the nation’s 55 poison control centers, said there was a 245 percent surge in reported exposure cases from July to August.

 

 

 

 

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A Matter of Equity: The Expanded Child Tax Credit  https://www.chn.org/voices/a-matter-of-equity-the-expanded-child-tax-credit/ Thu, 09 Sep 2021 16:38:25 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7433 Next week,, the House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to mark up legislation relating to the newly expanded Child Tax Credit, an important step toward making the CTC permanent and available beyond this year to almost all families with children. Making the CTC permanent, including children of immigrant families among its recipients, and making it fully refundable – meaning the lowest-income families would receive the same benefit as everyone else – are keys to lifting low-income families out of poverty as well as battling systemic racism in America.

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Next week,, the House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to mark up legislation relating to the newly expanded Child Tax Credit, an important step toward making the CTC permanent and available beyond this year to almost all families with children. 

Making the CTC permanent, including children of immigrant families among its recipients, and making it fully refundable – meaning the lowest-income families would receive the same benefit as everyone else – are keys to lifting low-income families out of poverty as well as battling systemic racism in America. President Biden included most of this in his American Families Plan, although he proposed extending the expanded credit through 2025, while making permanent full benefits for families with the lowest incomes. 

That’s the message a group of advocates fighting for the CTC brought to a news conference Wednesday, September 8. The advocates are among a large number of progressive groups – and their hundreds of thousands of members – urging Congress that permanent CTC expansion be included in the Build Back Better plan, currently being negotiated. 

Participating in the news conference were Amanda Jackson, Economic Justice Campaign Director for Color of Change; Eric Rodriguez, Senior Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, for UnidosUS; and Katrina Gamble, Senior Advisor for Economic Security Project Action, who moderated the event. 

Gamble noted that the newly expanded CTC, which began landing in families’ bank accounts and mailboxes in mid-July, already has reached families with 61 million children. She said it resulted in an increase in food security and has enabled families to meet basic needs. 

“We believe that the Child Tax Credit is an essential component of the Build Back Better agenda and can be a driver of economic and racial equality,” Gamble said. “We need to make the Child Tax Credit permanent. As part of that, we need to guarantee that the lowest-income families continue to have access to this critical boost.” 

Jackson said the 2008 recession decimated wealth and home ownership rates in Black communities, and that making CTC permanent and fully refundable is a way to address that. 

 “We know that after just the first few payments, the expanded Child Tax Credit is changing lives,” Jackson said. “Full refundability and full access are essential components to achieve the White House’s goals of creating a racially equitable Child Tax Credit and cutting child poverty in half…These are parts of the policy that directly take on structural racism.” 

Before passage of the American Rescue Plan in March, which included CTC expansion, Jackson said roughly 27 million children received only a partial CTC or none at all. “That’s especially true for children of color,” she said. “Nearly half of Black and Latinx children were previously left behind by this policy, compared to only about a third of White children. The previous Child Tax Credit also left out 70 percent of families headed by single parents or guardians who are female…We hope that Congress will take this moment to make the expanded, fully refundable Child Tax Credit permanent and more equitable.” 

Rodriguez stressed the importance of making sure all immigrant families have access to the CTC and compared and contrasted the records of the Biden Administration and the Trump Administration. 

In March 2020, while Trump was still President, Congress passed the first COVID-19 relief legislation, the CARES Act. The legislation excluded families where one spouse filed taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number (even if the other parent had an SSN). This meant that 14 million individuals in mixed-status families, including 4 million children, many of whom were U.S. citizens, were left out and did not qualify for the $1,200 stimulus payments. 

That situation was partially rectified with a new relief package passed in December 2020; and more fully rectified with the American Rescue Plan, which passed last March. “It goes right to the heart of what the Administration is for, what we’re all for, which is racial equity,” Rodriguez said. 

The Coalition on Human Needs has been collecting petition signatures and writing and sending letters to Congress in support of a permanent, fully inclusive Child Tax Credit expansion. And this week, CHN joined the Children’s Defense Fund and other groups in urging supporters, members, and allies to call their members of Congress. Click here to call your senators and representative today. 

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COVID-19 already made America’s housing crisis worse. And then the Supreme Court intervened and Ida happened.  https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-19-already-made-americas-housing-crisis-worse-and-then-the-supreme-court-intervened-and-ida-happened/ Wed, 01 Sep 2021 14:06:40 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7428 Even before the pandemic hit, America faced a housing crisis, with high rates of homelessness, and, in a typical year, one million evictions processed through the courts. Then COVID-19 wrecked the economy, causing massive job loss beginning in March and April 2020 – some 6.5 million renter households fell behind in rent as families struggled. Now, within a 72-hour period last week, many of these same families faced a double whammy.

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Housing advocates protest on the eviction moratorium in New York.

Housing advocates protest on the eviction moratorium in New York in August. | Brittainy Newman/AP Photo

Even before the pandemic hit, America faced a housing crisis, with high rates of homelessness, and, in a typical year, one million evictions processed through the courts. Then COVID-19 wrecked the economy, causing massive job loss beginning in March and April 2020 – some 6.5 million renter households fell behind in rent as families struggled. 

Now, within a 72-hour period last week, many of these same families faced a double whammy. First, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, August 26 ruled 6-3 that a CDC-imposed moratorium on evictions was unconstitutional and must be lifted immediately. And just three days later, Hurricane Ida slammed into the Louisiana coast, the most powerful hurricane to do so in well over 100 years. 

We do not yet have a clear picture of Ida’s damage – and it will be days, if not weeks, before we do. Earlier this week, flash flood watches were posed all the way from Mississippi to Massachusetts and more damage is expected from flooding as the former tropical storm makes its way to the mid-Atlantic and then heads north. 

As for evictions: A new report out this week estimates that about 750,000 renter households will lose their homes to eviction between now and the end of the year. The report, prepared by Goldman Sachs economists, could be conservative. It found that 2.5 million to 3.5 million households in the U.S. are behind in rent – other experts put the number of households in arrears much higher. 

On Monday, more than 1,000 local, state and national housing advocates came together for a regularly scheduled weekly strategy call. They discussed the eviction crisis, ongoing efforts to get much more of the $46.5 billion in rental assistance already approved by Congress out to those in need, and ongoing budget negotiations in Congress, which could see an additional $332 billion investment in affordable housing. They also heard a first-person update from New Orleans on Ida. 

Joining the call – which you can listen to here – were Andreanecia Morris, President of HousingLOUISIANA; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Gene Sperling, Senior Advisor to President Biden and American Rescue Plan Coordinator; Noel Poyo, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Economic Development, Department of the Treasury; and Sarah Saadian, Vice President of Public Policy for the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). The call was moderated by NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. 

Morris, joining the call via cell phone from New Orleans, described a scene where no one in the city has power and temperatures are expected to approach 100 degrees this week. She said many low-income residents were unable to evacuate, both because they could not afford to do so and because residents did not have much advance warning about the storm’s anticipated path and intensity. 

She said efforts were made to bring people without homes out of harm’s way, but the results were mixed. “All we were offering them was congregate housing inside of a dual disaster,” she said. “Coming out of the rain and wind, but also what we have for you is not something of privacy…a traditional shelter where you may feel like you are at risk of being exposed to COVID.” 

Exacerbating the situation, Morris said, was Louisiana’s failure to distribute rental aid in a significant way. She said the state has received $553 million from the federal government, but only $67 million has gone to those in need. She said there is a need right now for safe, sustainable housing that doesn’t crowd people on top of each other at a time when Louisiana ranks near the top of all 50 states in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

“Again, that housing has to be mindful of COVID,” she said. “Putting people together and overcrowding them, this is the exact kind of worst situation. If you have a family member that has running water and you don’t, you may go stay with them if they have power and you don’t. You are going to have more people doubling up out of necessity.” 

Sperling addressed concerns over the slow pace of emergency rental aid flowing to tenants who need it. “I think all of us know this has been a race with time,” he said. “The emergency rental assistance created an enormous opportunity and an enormous challenge. The opportunity is, we as a country have never had a national infrastructure for a humane eviction policy in the country.” 

He said 430 local and state jurisdictions are responsible for getting the aid out, and some are moving more quickly than others – for example, Louisville, Kentucky. has distributed 100 percent of its aid, and San Antonio and Harris County, Texas, have each distributed 92 percent. “It is a frustration to me that we spend so much time on the phone to local leaders pushing,” he said. “Why are there not more like the mayors of Louisville and San Antonio and others who are taking responsibility?” 

So, what comes next? Sperling said the White House has two strategies. “One is, we have to do everything possible to speed up the rental assistance everywhere – not just among the highest performers,” he said. “And secondly, we still need – even with the national eviction moratorium being overturned – we still need to do everything that we can to delay, divert, and prevent evictions from happening as the emergency rental assistance is still being set up.” 

For her part, Speaker Pelosi endorsed efforts by House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) to introduce legislation that would streamline and speed up efforts to get rental assistance to where it is supposed to go. Waters is still drafting her bill; it is expected to be marked up in committee on September 13. 

Pelosi also urged housing advocates to shine the spotlight on the housing crisis – and to show where assistance is working and where it is not. “President Lincoln said public sentiment is everything,” Pelosi said “With it, you can accomplish anything. Without it, practically nothing. For public sentiment to work, people have to be aware of what is at stake.” 

And she added that she has one overarching goal in the weeks and months ahead. “We said we were going to put vaccinations in the arms, money in the pockets, children safely in school, and people safely back to work. So that they can meet their needs in addition to helping with the rent.” 

Meanwhile, back in New Orleans, there is one welcome piece of news. Morris, the Louisiana housing advocate, says there won’t be any evictions in the immediate future. 

Why? 

“The roof flew off the courthouse.” 

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CHN’s Podcast Episode 4: Housing is Health Care, and Finding the Political Will to End Homelessness https://www.chn.org/voices/episode-4-podcast-housing-is-health-care/ Tue, 31 Aug 2021 14:30:59 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7410 Listeners will hear from two members of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council: Dr. Courtney Plasden from Portland, Maine, the council’s clinical director, and Art Rios Sr., the Chair of the National Health Care Consumer Advisory Board based out of Portland, Oregon. In addition, we are joined by Steve Berg, the Vice President of Policy and Programs at the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington D.C. Steve shares how advocates at the grassroots and federal levels must continue to push forward policies during the budget reconciliation process and economic recovery legislation that could make a real difference in the lives of those at risk of, or facing, homelessness. All three speakers encourage listeners to contact their elected officials during the budget process to let them know that investing in programs and policies to combat homelessness is an issue of importance to their constituents.

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Episode Summary

In this episode of the Voices for Human Needs podcast, we discuss issues of housing, health care, and policy to address the challenges for those experiencing poverty and facing homelessness. Listeners will hear from two members of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council: Dr. Courtney Plasden from Portland, Maine, the council’s clinical director, and Art Rios Sr., the Chair of the National Health Care Consumer Advisory Board based out of Portland, Oregon. Courtney and Art share how their lived experiences with homelessness influence their ongoing work providing direct services to homeless populations both before, and during, the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In addition, we are joined by Steve Berg, the Vice President of Policy and Programs at the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington D.C. Steve shares how advocates at the grassroots and federal levels must continue to push forward policies during the budget reconciliation process and economic recovery legislation that could make a real difference in the lives of those at risk of, or facing, homelessness. 

All three speakers encourage listeners to contact their elected officials during the budget process to let them know that investing in programs and policies to combat homelessness is an issue of importance to their constituents. Steve Berg emphasizes the power that constituents have to influence the political will of their elected officials and their response to homelessness in their communities: “People have gotten so used to the idea that there are hundreds of thousands of people around the country at any given time who are living in a shelter or living on the street- it does not have to be this way. And in times of prosperity in a prosperous, rich country, there’s no reason it has to be that way. People just have to make it clear to their elected officials that [allowing homelessness to continue in their communities] is not okay…and it needs to stop, and the resources are there to do that.” 

How to Listen

Listen to our show wherever you get your podcasts (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and more)! Follow and subscribe to receive notifications when we release a new episode. The full transcript of this podcast episode is available here.

Housing is Health care

Before the pandemic, homelessness was on the rise with over a half million people experiencing homelessness annually in America according to Point-In-Time Counts reported by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 70% of those experiencing homelessness as of January 2020 were individuals, with the rest being families with children. 

This data was collected just before the COVID-19 pandemic and does not reflect the effects that social distancing measures have had on the reduced capacity for many facilities serving those who are homeless, or the elevated rates of unemployment and job losses tied to the recession. 57.1% of personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills, so losing one’s job, and therefore, health insurance, is often the tipping point into personal debt, eviction, and homelessness, highlighting a huge flaw in our country’s approach to human infrastructure and health care. 

Keeping people in their homes, off the streets, and out of shelters has been seen as the right public health response to mitigating the transmission of COVID-19. But to further health equity for all–during a pandemic or not– providing safe and secure housing is always a top priority for human needs advocates.

Dr. Courtney Plasden notes that while housing is health care, “we can’t wait for health care until someone is housed. We need to make sure that [those experiencing homelessness] have health care, whether that’s on the street, whether that’s in a health center, whether that’s in a mobile unit, whether that’s virtual care, whether that’s medical respite.”

Art Rios Sr., a consumer at his local Health Care for the Homeless Clinic discusses the increased challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to providing health care services to those without safe and stable housing in his community: “We have seen the rise of homeless folks on our streets here in Portland, Oregon. The city took a very aggressive way of moving [homeless people out with day-today sweeps of camp sites], and when that happened, it was very hard for us to get our health care services to folks because they were constantly getting moved.”

Actions You Can Take Now

Now is the time for listeners like you to contact your elected representatives by phone, social media, or signing onto action letters urging them to vote for legislation during the budget reconciliation process that invests in housing and homelessness programs including affordable housing, expansion of housing vouchers, and home and community-based health care services.

Find actions you can take below, starting with forwarding this podcast episode to a friend, or colleague! 

Spotify

Apple Podcasts

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Next Week’s Podcast Reiterates Housing Is Health Care. Meanwhile, Supreme Court Ruling Puts Millions At Risk for Eviction. https://www.chn.org/voices/stay-tuned-episode-4/ Fri, 27 Aug 2021 16:12:46 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7420 Stay tuned for our upcoming episode of the Voices for Human Needs podcast, launching next week! In this episode, co-hosts Abigail Alpern Fisch and Leo Nguen will discuss issues of housing, health care, and policy to address the challenges for those experiencing poverty and facing homelessness. You will hear from two members of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council: Dr. Courtney Plasden from Portland, Maine, the council’s clinical director, and Art Rios Sr., the Chair of the National Health Care Consumer Advisory Board based out of Portland, Oregon. Courtney and Art share how their lived experiences with homelessness influence their ongoing work providing direct services to homeless populations both before, and during, the COVID-19 pandemic.

The post Next Week’s Podcast Reiterates Housing Is Health Care. Meanwhile, Supreme Court Ruling Puts Millions At Risk for Eviction. appeared first on Coalition on Human Needs.

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Stay tuned for our upcoming episode of the Voices for Human Needs podcast, launching next week! In this episode, co-hosts Abigail Alpern Fisch and Leo Nguen will discuss issues of housing, health care, and policy to address the challenges for those experiencing poverty and facing homelessness. You will hear from two members of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council: Dr. Courtney Plasden from Portland, Maine, the council’s clinical director, and Art Rios Sr., the Chair of the National Health Care Consumer Advisory Board based out of Portland, Oregon. Courtney and Art share how their lived experiences with homelessness influence their ongoing work providing direct services to homeless populations both before, and during, the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, we will be joined by Steve Berg, the Vice President of Policy and Programs at the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington D.C. Steve shares how advocates at the grassroots and federal levels must continue to push forward policies during the budget reconciliation process and economic recovery legislation that could make a real difference in the lives of those at risk of, or facing, homelessness.

Follow and subscribe to our show wherever you get your podcasts (SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and more), to receive notifications when we release a new episode!

The sense of urgency to enact the policy priorities discussed in this next episode are all the more relevant by the just-announced Supreme Court ruling overturning the extended federal eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The extended moratorium was scheduled to be in effect through October 3rd for renters living in communities with high transmission of COVID-19, as declared by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. The Supreme Court’s decision puts millions of renters immediately at risk of losing their housing. Many of CHN’s partner organizations are calling upon state and local governments to take immediate action to keep renters stably and safely housed. See below actions you can take now.

Actions you Can take now!

The post Next Week’s Podcast Reiterates Housing Is Health Care. Meanwhile, Supreme Court Ruling Puts Millions At Risk for Eviction. appeared first on Coalition on Human Needs.

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Brand new data and reports show impact of expanded CTC: ‘This is huge for low-income families’  https://www.chn.org/voices/brand-new-data-and-reports-show-impact-of-expanded-ctc-this-is-huge-for-low-income-families/ Fri, 27 Aug 2021 15:17:30 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7418 Last week, Voices for Human Needs discussed recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse survey that showed the first round of child tax credits – distributed beginning July 15 – caused a significant drop in hunger and economic hardship. Now the Census Bureau, as reported by the Economic Security Project, has released brand new data, collected after the second installment of payments was distributed in August. And the news is even better. The new figures show that hunger among families with kids has now dropped from 11 percent before the expanded CTC payments to 7.7 percent – last month, that figure was 8.4 percent.

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Cheerful Japanese father carrying his daughter on shoulders on beach
Last week, Voices for Human Needs discussed recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse survey that showed the first round of child tax credits – distributed beginning July 15 – caused a significant drop in hunger and economic hardship. 


Now the Census Bureau, as reported by the Economic Security Project, has released 
brand new data, collected after the second installment of payments was distributed in August. And the news is even better. The new figures show that hunger among families with kids has now dropped from 11 percent before the expanded CTC payments to 7.7 percent – last month, that figure was 8.4 percent. The number of adults living with children reporting that they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the past week dropped from 10.7 million before the first CTC payment to nearly 8.1 million just after the payment, and down to 7.4 million during a period that included the second payment. 

And the data show that Black and Latinx families in particular have benefited. Among Latinx adults living with children, food insecurity fell from 21 percent before the first payment to 13 percent in mid-August. Among Black adults living with children, the drop was from 20 percent before the July payments to 15 percent after the August payments. Latinx and Black families also recorded a very slight drop in the number of households reporting that they had little or no confidence in making next month’s rent payment. 

One of the most dramatic and encouraging findings: some 20 percent of Latinx families with kids and 18 percent of Black families with kids say they are newly able to meet their basic needs — stark evidence that the CTC expansion is working. 

In addition to the new data released this week, two new studies show more benefits from the CTC expansion – a significant drop in child poverty in the U.S., and a forecast of enhanced economic stimulus, particularly in rural parts of the country and in parts of the country populated by larger families. 

The first study, released by researchers at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty & Social Policy, found that the July monthly payment alone lifted households with 3 million children out of poverty. That represents a 25 percent reduction in the nation’s childhood poverty rate — from 15.8 percent to 11.9 percent. Researchers said the rate will likely fall further, depending on the success of outreach efforts to lower income parents who don’t typically file a tax return. 

“This is huge for low-income families,” Zachary Parolin, who co-authored the report, told CNBC. 

The first installment of payments reached families with more than 59 million children – about 80 percent of all kids in the U.S., the report found. It found that poverty was reduced fairly evenly, falling about 20 to 25 percent across all major and ethnic groups. However, Black and Latinx children still face twice the rate of poverty compared to White children. 

The Biden Administration issued the payment to households with 61 million children in August – about 1.6 million more children than in July. That could mean that the reduction in poverty going forward could be even larger than the Columbia University report indicates. 

second report, issued by the Niskanen Center, forecasts the broad economic impact of the CTC expansion. The report’s authors estimate that over the next 12 months, the extra benefit will boost consumer spending in the U.S. by $27 billion, generate $1.9 billion in revenues from state and local sales taxes, and support more than 500,000 full-time jobs at the median wage. 

The report found that more populous states will by nature see a larger overall benefit from the CTC expansion. But in relative terms, the expansion provides larger benefits to states with lower average incomes and larger average family sizes. In particular, rural regions will benefit from a substantial injection of relative purchasing power – equivalent, the report says, to 1.35 percent of non-metro GDP. 

“This is a benefit that doesn’t discriminate based on where you live; it’s the same amount regardless,” report co-author Sam Hammond said in an interview with Georgetown University’s Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. “Nonetheless, in relative terms, the Child Tax Credit represents an enormous increase in the purchasing power of families in rural areas. And I think we’ll see, over the medium term, greater economic activity and job creation in rural America as well.” 

The new Census data – coupled with these two new studies that have come out in the past week – will generate momentum as children’s advocates and others seek to either make the CTC expansion permanent as Congress spends its next weeks hammering out detailed  budget legislation. 

For his part, Hammond is optimistic about the future of the Child Tax Credit and is confident that it will be made permanent. “We see the immediate effect on parents being able to purchase food and pay for things like rent, but over the longer term, I think we’ll also see new businesses form in areas where they didn’t use to be viable because of low demand,” he said. “As more of these impacts are felt, any residual ambivalence about the Child Tax Credit will wane. That’s my prediction.” 

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America’s caregivers need a pay raise. Congress can give them one.  https://www.chn.org/voices/americas-caregivers-need-a-pay-raise-congress-can-give-them-one/ Wed, 25 Aug 2021 18:15:18 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7417 Chandra Campos works as a caregiver in San Luis Valley, a picturesque part of south-central Colorado punctuated by the Rio Grande River, whose headwaters lay just north. Caregivers in that part of the state are in short supply – meaning Chandra has lots of work helping clients dress themselves, bathe, and making sure they get enough to eat – the things that enable people to live independently at home instead of in long-term care facilities. 

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Chandra Campos works as a caregiver in San Luis Valley, a picturesque part of south-central Colorado punctuated by the Rio Grande River, whose headwaters lay just north. Caregivers in that part of the state are in short supply – meaning Chandra has lots of work helping clients dress themselves, bathe, and making sure they get enough to eat – the things that enable people to live independently at home instead of in long-term care facilities. 

It is also means lots of mileage for Chandra as she drives from client to client in this rural section of Colorado. During her eight years as a caregiver, Chandra has gone through three cars due to wear and tear. She says because of the low wages caregivers earn, in addition to the fact that she does not get reimbursed for mileage, it is difficult to save up enough money for a good car that will last. 

“While I was lucky to keep my job during the pandemic, it meant I was putting my family and my health at risk each day,” she says. “I was forced to make the impossible choice of going to work or risking being unable to pay my bills.” 

Chandra told her story in an op-ed published by the Colorado Sun, which serves the San Luis Valley.  As a member of Colorado Care Workers Unite, she wrote the op-ed in support of the Better Care, Better Jobs Act currently pending in Congress. This proposal – which reflects a key part of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and is included in budget blueprints passed by both the Senate and House — would directly invest $400 billion in essential care infrastructure, in part by paying caregivers a decent wage. It would create middle-class jobs and it would give workers the right to join a union, meaning they could negotiate better, safer working conditions. 

Under the legislation, states would receive additional Medicaid funding for taking steps to improve the access to and quality of home-based care, increase the wages and benefits of caregivers, improve training standards, and provide relief to unpaid family caregivers.  Advocates are now working to ensure that the $400 billion is included in the detailed legislation that follows up on the budget roadmap Congress just passed. 

Peter Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc of the United States, said the proposal in particular would help people with disabilities as well as aging adults. 

“The infrastructure of care for these groups currently includes the labor of unpaid family caregivers who fill in the gaps in the service system, and a paid workforce that is not paid a family sustaining wage,” he said in a statement. “The $400 billion included to both expand access to HCBS and raise wages for the direct care workforce will shore up the care infrastructure so that people with disabilities can live independently, aging adults can age in place, and family caregivers can return to the workforce.” 

Advocates for caregivers, including SEIU, hope to see the $400 billion included in the final version of the budget expected to pass Congress this fall, and are lobbying to make this happen. SEIU currently is waging an aggressive digital campaign on caregivers’ behalf. 

Such an investment would transform an industry largely made up of women, particularly women of color. There are around 4.6 million paid caregivers in the United States, with most working as health care aides, personal aides and nursing assistants. About half of this work force are women of color; about one-fourth were born outside the United States. 

As Americans age, the demand for caregivers is only going to increase – which means pay will have to increase in order to attract people to the millions of jobs that will need to be filled. Currently home health and personal care aides such as Chandra earn an average wage of $13.49 an hour. And there is an entirely separate, invisible work force of tens of millions of people who provide caregiving services for loved ones without compensation. 

It is clear that if we are to transform our economy – or, as President Biden says, “build back better” — then addressing caregiving must be part of the equation. 

“We can’t have a strong economy if we have millions of people working as full-time caregivers and making so little that they are still living in poverty,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo told the New York Times. “We can’t have a strong economy when we have millions of other people dropping out of the work force to take care of elderly loved ones.” 

Experts say that the low level of compensation inside the caregiving industry exists for three reasons – first, the impression that many Americans have that home care is not a “real” profession; second, the demographics of the industry itself; and third, who pays. 

“The notion of the home as a workplace is an oxymoron to people – it doesn’t make sense to them,’ Eileen Boris, a professor of feminist studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara told The Lily. “What we do in the home is associated with love, not money. Then there’s a double devaluing, because it’s work that’s associated with the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow and discrimination [against] immigrants in the low-wage labor market.” 

While the large number of families dependent on home care for family members either aging or with disabilities recognizes how essential this work is, public or insurance payments for home care are inadequate to meet the need, and families who need home care often are on their own trying to pay for it. Most find it a struggle to cover the costs, putting more downward pressure on wages for home care workers. 

And since the onset of the pandemic, things only have gotten worse. 

“I think it’s impossible to overstate how challenging the last 18 months has been for this workforce,” Kezia Scales, Director of Policy Research at the direct-care nonprofit PHI, told The Lily. “In many cases, they were making the almost impossible choice to continue doing their job while putting themselves and their families at risk – while also being responsible for the lives of their clients – or staying home and forgoing their paycheck. Since many of these workers are earning poverty-level wages, they’re not in a position to do that.” 

Back in San Luis Valley, Chandra Campos agrees. 

“The way I see it, caregivers would be better at our jobs, and more people would want to do this work, if we were paid a liveable wage and had benefits such as paid time off, sick leave, and health care,” she wrote. “It can be hard to take care of others when you can barely take care of yourself.” 

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship August 20, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-august-20-2021/ Fri, 20 Aug 2021 16:51:47 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7402 The CTC-and-SNAP-to-the-rescue edition. The Delta variant is spreading rapidly, making up more than 98 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The daily death rate is roughly double what it was at the beginning of August. Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi are seeing their highest daily caseloads  since the start of the pandemic. Alabama has run out of ICU beds. “It’s absolutely due to delta; it’s absolutely due to unvaccinated people,” said David Wohl, a specialist in infectious diseases at the University of North Carolina. “There is an incredible increase in hospitalizations across the spectrum, from just needing oxygen and some care to needing serious interventions to keep people alive. If everyone was vaccinated, our hospitals would not be anywhere near where we are.” 

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COVID-19 HardshipAugust 20, 2021

The CTC-and-SNAP-to-the-rescue edition. The Delta variant is spreading rapidly, making up more than 98 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The daily death rate is roughly double what it was at the beginning of August. Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi are seeing their highest daily caseloads since the start of the pandemic. Alabama has run out of ICU beds. “It’s absolutely due to Delta; it’s absolutely due to unvaccinated people,” said David Wohl, a specialist in infectious diseases at the University of North Carolina. “There is an incredible increase in hospitalizations across the spectrum, from just needing oxygen and some care to needing serious interventions to keep people alive. If everyone was vaccinated, our hospitals would not be anywhere near where we are.” 

But there is good news to report – substantial progress for America’s families and children that we think might outlast the pandemic and give millions hope for a better future. The news is two-fold. 

First, new Household Pulse data from the Census Bureau strongly suggest that the first wave of Child Tax Credit expansion benefits, delivered in mid-July, caused a significant decline in hunger and economic hardship for families receiving the benefit. The data show that during the period from June 23 to July 5 (before the CTC payment was received) 11 percent of adults with children said that in the past week, they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat. But after the payment was received (July 21 – August 2), that proportion dropped to 8.4 percent. The drop-off is really quite significant; you can read more here. All the more reason why Congress must make the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent. 

Second, earlier this week, the Biden Administration approved the largest increase to food assistance benefits in the history of SNAP. The average monthly benefit will rise more than 25 percent – from $121 per person to $157. Families have suffered greatly during this seemingly unending pandemic – the CTC expansion and increase in nutrition assistance will benefit them greatly. 

Of course, there is much more to be done. The House could vote as early as Monday or Tuesday of next week on the budget that the Senate passed last week – this is the blueprint that will lead us to President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Please ask your House member to remember our struggling families and children and vote in their best interests. Here’s a message about reducing child poverty you can send them. 

 

 

7.5 million 

The estimated number of workers who will lose federal pandemic unemployment benefits right around Labor Day. This is the largest cutoff of unemployment benefits in U.S. history. Tweet this.

 

46 out of 50 

 

The number of states that saw double-digit increases in hospitalizations for the week ending Tuesday, August 17. Tweet this.

 

$19.3 billion 

 

The amount of money the expanded Child Tax Credit is expected to inject into local economies each month, according to the Joint Economic Committee. That’s a multiplier of 1.25 — every dollar distributed under the CTC generates $1.25 in economic activity. Tweet this.

 

$20,337/$18,111 

The median wage for home-care workers at an agency was $20,337 in 2019 . That figure drops to $18,111 for independent workers. One in six live in poverty and more than half depend on some kind of public assistance. Almost one in five have no health insurance. Tweet this.

 

13.1% 

Overall, about 13.1 percent of LGBT adults lived in a household that experienced food insecurity in the past seven days, compared to 7.2 percent of non-LGBT adults, according to a recent Household Pulse survey. And 36.6 percent of LGBT adults lived in a household that had difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the previous seven days, compared to 26.1 percent of non-LGBT adults. Tweet this.

 

46% 

Nearly half (46%) of Hispanic/Latino and Black  adults reported their households did without basic necessities like medicine or food to pay their energy bill for a month or more.  That was true of 22% of Whites and 28% of Asians.

 

2 in 10 

 

About two out of every ten unvaccinated employees said if their employer gave them paid time off, they would be more likely to get vaccinated, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of 1,888 adults conducted June 8 to June 21. The U.S. currently has no national paid leave policy, but President Biden is pushing to include one in his $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan.

 

8%/Nearly 10% 

About 8 percent of people living in U.S. long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19 during the pandemic. For nursing homes alone, that figure is nearly 10 percent – and experts say the actual death rate might be significantly higher.

 

68%/Around 20% 

According to one study, an estimated 68 percent of the nation’s prison inmates have been vaccinated, but only somewhere around 20 percent of prison staff. “The real problem, in terms of keeping COVID out of prisons now, is the staff,” the study’s author said in an interview. 

 

63%/54% 

In a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 63 percent of parents of school-age children said they support in-school mask mandates for unvaccinated students and staff. But a narrow 54 percent said they oppose vaccine requirements for students, even if the FDA were to grant full approval for school-age children to receive them.

 

 

 

 

The post CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship August 20, 2021 appeared first on Coalition on Human Needs.

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The CTC expansion is doing exactly what it was meant to do – and families and children are benefiting  https://www.chn.org/voices/the-ctc-expansion-is-doing-exactly-what-it-was-meant-to-do-and-families-and-children-are-benefiting/ Wed, 18 Aug 2021 20:24:18 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7401 Endia Villar, a working mom in Allen, Texas, with a two-year-old daughter and a baby on the way, was recently asked how she spent the $300 child tax credit deposit she received last month. “Groceries,” she said. “I am pregnant, and I eat like a teenage boy. We needed more food. So it – it worked out perfectly.” Endia is not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent Household Pulse survey, 47 percent of parents receiving the expanded benefit used at least some of the funds on food.

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Endia Villar, a working mom in Allen, Texas, with a two-year-old daughter and a baby on the way, was recently asked how she spent the $300 child tax credit deposit she received last month. 

“Groceries,” she said. “I am pregnant, and I eat like a teenage boy. We needed more food. So it – it worked out perfectly.” 

Endia is not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent Household Pulse survey, 47 percent of parents receiving the expanded benefit used at least some of the funds on food, while 28 percent spent it on Internet, cell phones or other utilities. Almost a quarter of those surveyed spent it on clothing, and 17 percent of parents with at least one child under 5 used the extra money to help pay for child care.  

“It looks like families are using this to pay for basic needs that their kids have,” said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. “These are things we know many families are struggling with. This extra payment is going to reduce the number of families at risk. 

Overall, some 27 percent of parents said they mostly spent the child tax credit. Another 32 percent said they mostly saved it, and 40 percent said they mostly used it to pay down debt. 

Nearly half of Latinx families and 45 percent of Black families said they mostly used it to pay down debt, compared to 37 percent of White families and 26 percent of Asian-American families. And 37 percent of Asian-American parents and 36 percent of White parents said they mostly saved the payment, compared to 27 percent of Black parents and 25 percent of Latinx parents.  

Monthly payments will be paid out through the end of this year, adding up to half the total CTC the family can receive. Families will then be able to get a final lump sum payment when they file their taxes between January and April of next year. (Or even after April:  families with incomes too low to be required to file tax forms can file later, and they will still receive the Child Tax Credit they’re owed.) But already there is evidence that the monthly benefit — $300 for every child 0 to 5 and $250 for every child 6 through 17 – is reducing hunger and hardship among families with children. 

The Household Pulse survey found that fewer adults with children reported not having enough to eat after the first payment was sent on July 15. During the period from June 23 – July 5 (before the CTC was received), 11 percent of adults with children said that in the past week, they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat. But after the payment was received (July 21 – August 2), that proportion dropped to 8.4 percent. In the world of survey research, that decline is a big deal.  

That’s the lowest rate of food insufficiency since the pandemic hit in full force in March 2020, Schanzenbach said. In comparison, people in households with no children did not see a reduction, suggesting that the Child Tax Credit was making the difference. 

The survey also found that the July CTC payment helped families with children pay normal household expenses. It found that 29 percent of adults with children had difficulty paying expenses in the previous week – down from 31.5 percent a month earlier. Conversely, among households without children, the share of adults struggling to pay expenses increased slightly during the same period. 

“A drop in the number of households with children that reported food insufficiency and trouble paying household expenses may be linked to the child tax credit checks issued last month,” Daniel J. Perez-Lopez, a statistician at the Census Bureau, wrote in a summary about the new survey results. 

President Biden and congressional Democrats want to extend the CTC expansion, either by making it permanent or at least extending it through 2025. This news that the CTC expanded benefit already is helping families fight hunger and meet other household expenses can only give proponents of CTC expansion more momentum. 

  

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“With Immigrants We Rise:” Advocates wrap up week of national action  https://www.chn.org/voices/with-immigrants-we-rise-advocates-wrap-up-week-of-national-action/ Fri, 13 Aug 2021 16:12:58 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7392 In conjunction with the We Are Home campaign, People’s Action and the Coalition on Human Needs this week launched a national week of action to urge Congress to include Dreamers, immigrants who came here fleeing natural disasters or violence in their home countries, and essential workers, including farmworkers, in the Senate’s budget resolution. 

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Editor’s note: Dominique Espinoza, CHN’s Outreach and Engagement Specialist, contributed to this post. 

In conjunction with the We Are Home campaign, People’s Action and the Coalition on Human Needs this week launched a national week of action to urge Congress to include Dreamers, immigrants who came here fleeing natural disasters or violence in their home countries, and essential workers, including farmworkers, in the Senate’s budget resolution. 

The National “Shared Prosperity: With Immigrants We Rise” week of action seeks a pathway to citizenship for young DACA recipients (young immigrants who were brought here as children, aka “Dreamers”) as well as for the other groups of immigrants mentioned. The week’s activities included targeting Senators in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Maine; a twitterstorm; a phonebank to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) with People’s Action member organization LUCHA; a vigil at the office of Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) by People’s Action member organization Colorado’s People’s Alliance; a summit to pressure Sen. Angus King (I-ME) by People’s Action member organization Maine People’s Alliance; a letter to all 100 members of the U.S. Senate delivered by the Coalition on Human Needs; and a campaign to encourage individuals nationwide to contact their members of Congress, which has so far resulted in more than 47,000 letters. 

The twitterstorm – hosted with the help of CHN, People’s Action, Children’s Defense Fund and strongly backed by America’s Voice, the Center on Law and Social Policy and MomsRising – proved particularly popular. Some 3,747 individuals participated, with a total of 4,339 retweets and a potential audience of just under 16 million people reached. 

The vigil outside Sen. Hickenlooper’s Denver office was covered by Public News Service, which aired a story on the event on its national news feed as well as on both English and Spanish radio stations throughout the state. 

Laura Peniche, hotline manager for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, told the news agency she has been waiting for comprehensive immigration reform for over 20 years. She wants Hickenlooper to make sure a path to citizenship remains intact inside the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill making its way through Congress. 

“I think it’s a great opportunity for our leaders to come together and provide relief for the millions of families in this country who are waiting to come out of the shadows and contribute fully to our country,” Peniche contended. 

Peniche argued giving immigrants, many of whom who put themselves and their families at great risk during the pandemic, a meaningful way to become U.S. citizens will ensure they can get health benefits and other protections they urgently need.

“A majority of American people want to see a humane immigration system that works for everyone,” Peniche asserted. “We are just like you, human beings who are children of God, who deserve dignity and respect.” 

(The English version of the Public News Service story is here; the Spanish version is here.) 

Meanwhile, allied organizations welcomed the vote by the Senate to include a pathway to citizenship and other protections for immigrants in the budget reconciliation resolution that passed the upper chamber on Wednesday. 

“This vote is a major step forward,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice. “The momentum is building. The country is ready….This is the year, finally, for a historic legislative breakthrough on immigration.” 

“All year, we have been pushing the Biden Administration and Democrats in Congress to go big and bold on a pathway to citizenship,” said Greisa Martinez Rosas, Executive Director, United We Dream and We Are Home Co-Chair. “This step forward is a big deal, it is a culmination of the work so many Black and brown immigrants have done to fight for this moment. We are on the precipice of providing citizenship to so many undocumented Black and brown immigrants.” 

Added Angelica Salas, Executive Director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights: 

“We rejoice as we are one step closer to ensuring immigrants and their families have the recognition and pathway to citizenship that they have long deserved….We are part of the United States, we live in and contribute to these communities, not because we want to belong, but because we already do.” 

 

 

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Second round of monthly CTC expansion benefits lands today https://www.chn.org/voices/second-round-of-monthly-ctc-expansion-benefits-lands-today/ Fri, 13 Aug 2021 15:31:22 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7391 Today the second round of monthly benefits under the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) began landing in the bank accounts of millions of families with children aged 0 to 17. The Coalition on Human Needs, working with Public News Service, is telling the stories of communities and families that are benefiting from the CTC expansion. Here are three stories that have been produced this past week.

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Today the second round of monthly benefits under the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) began landing in the bank accounts of millions of families with children aged 0 to 17. The Coalition on Human Needs, working with Public News Service, is telling the stories of communities and families that are benefiting from the CTC expansion. Here are three stories that have been produced this past week. You can see an earlier round of stories here.

Expanded Child Tax Credit Boosts Safety Net for MI Families
ALLEGAN, Mich. — More than 1.9 million Michigan kids are benefiting as their families see extra money from the extended federal Child Tax Credit. Esperanza Carrasco-Morales, nutrition and senior services specialist for Community Action of Allegan County, said the advance payments help families like hers feel more secure and prepared for unexpected or once-a-year costs. “I am a single mother of four, so that extra income that’s coming in, that tax credit that came in, has helped out immensely with school supplies, and school clothes and whatnot,” Carrasco-Morales explained. “Especially with gas. Gas prices are going up.” READ MORE »

Child Tax Credit Lifts MT Families Out of Poverty, Backers Say
MISSOULA, Mont. – More than 200,000 Montana families are seeing extra money in their bank accounts because of the extended federal Child Tax Credit. Hailey Morton is a housekeeping manager for a hotel in Missoula. She has three kids and said she used the first payment for rent and groceries – and saved the rest. “I am grateful for the extra help through the month,” said Morton, “because that’s what’s really going to save me.” READ MORE »

Federal Child Tax Credit Providing Lifeline for GA Families
ATLANTA — More than 2.2 million Georgia kids are benefiting as their families see extra money from the extended federal Child Tax Credit. Shanda Neal, senior organizer for the Georgia chapter of 9to5, the National Association of Working Women, said families have been using the first payment for the necessities after an uncertain year. “Since the pandemic has really hit, it has really shifted the landscape of working families and what’s accessible to them, and we’ve seen that women have really been impacted hugely when we think about COVID and the workforce,” Neal observed. “So definitely, when you think about rent, when you think about utilities.” READ MORE »

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CHN: Budget resolution provides blueprint for our nation’s future  https://www.chn.org/voices/chn-budget-resolution-provides-blueprint-for-our-nations-future/ Thu, 12 Aug 2021 14:10:45 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7384 In the early hours of Wednesday, August 11, the U.S. Senate voted along party lines in favor of a budget resolution that CHN said “provides a blueprint for our nation’s future that will do unprecedented good for the vast majority of Americans.” CHN, in a letter addressed to members of the Senate, said the legislation “will significantly raise living standards and economic security for most of us. Your vote for it is a vote for more opportunity, dramatically less poverty, and a growing middle class.” 

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In the early hours of Wednesday, August 11, the U.S. Senate voted along party lines in favor of a budget resolution that CHN said “provides a blueprint for our nation’s future that will do unprecedented good for the vast majority of Americans.” 

CHN, in a letter addressed to members of the Senate, said the legislation “will significantly raise living standards and economic security for most of us. Your vote for it is a vote for more opportunity, dramatically less poverty, and a growing middle class.” 

CHN said the budget resolution, combined with the physical infrastructure investments approved on a bipartisan vote the day before, “will provide millions of jobs with good pay and will improve people’s lives by saving them money on their health care, child care, housing and other expenses.” 

“In addition to greater earnings from the new jobs created, families with 90 percent of America’s children will see rising incomes through the increased Child Tax Credit,” CHN’s letter states. “Those who are aging and people with disabilities will be more able to secure home care. Immigrants who have risked their lives in frontline jobs during the pandemic, often taken advantage of because of their insecure status, will be able to contribute more with the help of the legal status made possible through this budget. From pre-school through college, the budget allows for investments that will enable our students to thrive.” 

CHN praised Senators for defeating an amendment to the budget resolution that would have added more than $50 billion in Pentagon spending. “Our military does not need more funds,” CHN said. “It needs to stop wasting our resources on military contractors that are not providing us with cost-effective equipment that actually serves our security needs. 

“We know that millions of Americans have struggled before the pandemic, and experienced more hardships during the pandemic,” CHN’s letter concludes. “The budget resolution before you can jump-start real progress in their lives, and in our future.” 

You can read CHN’s letter in its entirety here. 

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship August 6, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-august-6-2021/ Fri, 06 Aug 2021 17:13:55 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7370 The August Awakening edition. Yes, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are way up – a trend experts say may continue into the fall. Yet there is also evidence of an awakening – an awareness, finally, that the vaccine can protect them against a disease that’s hitting closer and closer to home. Alabama and Arkansas – two states with low vaccination rates – have seen their daily rates of vaccinations double in the past three weeks. Louisiana, which now leads the nation in new infections per capita, has seen its daily vaccination rate nearly quadruple in the past few weeks.

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COVID-19 HardshipAugust 6, 2021 

The August Awakening edition. Yes, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are way up – a trend experts say may continue into the fall. Yet there is also evidence of an awakening – an awareness, finally, that the vaccine can protect them against a disease that’s hitting closer and closer to home. Alabama and Arkansas – two states with low vaccination rates – have seen their daily rates of vaccinations double in the past three weeks. Louisiana, which now leads the nation in new infections per capita, has seen its daily vaccination rate nearly quadruple in the past few weeks. “The public is finally hearing how bad it has gotten,” said Dr. Robert C. Peltier, the Chief Medical Officer for North Oaks Health System in Hammond, Louisiana. Still, last month, of those adults who were unvaccinated, about three-quarters said they were either definitely not going to get the shot, or were unlikely to get it.  

Big corporations – until recently on the fence – are now announcing they will require their employees to be vaccinated. These include Walmart, Google, Tysons Foods, and, if you can believe it, Fox. New York City is going to require anyone eating in a restaurant, visiting a gym, seeing a movie, attending a concert, or checking out a Broadway production to prove they have received at least one shot. More cities and even one state (Louisiana) have issued indoor mask mandates. President Biden has announced that all civilian federal employees must either be fully vaccinated or undergo COVID-19 testing on a weekly basis. 

And as Congress embarks on a lengthy August recess, there is activism in the streets. Protect Our Care is about to embark on a 19-state Care Force One “Lower Cost/Better Care” bus tour. They’ll kick off in Bangor and Portland, Maine this Monday. You can see their itinerary here. And there’s the Paid Leave For All bus tour; on Friday, they’ll be in Roanoke Virginia and Charleston, West Virginia. Click here for their itinerary and follow along with them here. Others continue to press Congress on our demands that immigrant protections be included in the under-construction reconciliation package, that the major expansions in the Child Tax Credit are made permanent, and that people are protected from evictions and hunger. 

Whatever your issue, cause, or passion, there is something for you to do this month (in a safe and socially distant way!) to make our country stronger and let members of Congress know you care and you are watching. Here’s one way: send your Senators an email calling for the investments we need. 

Let’s make this August our Awakening. 

 

-1%/+2.3%

 

recent report found that states that announced an early end of federal unemployment insurance benefits saw employment decline by roughly 1 percent, while states that did not end benefits saw employment growth of 2.3 percent. Tweet this.

  

17%/15%/14% 

 

New research shows Latinx, Black, and Native third-graders lost more ground in math during the pandemic compared with Asian and white students. The data show that Latinx students performed 17 percentile points lower in spring 2021 compared with the typical achievement of Latinx third-graders during spring 2019. For Blacks, the decline was 15 percentile points; for Native students, it was 14. Asian and white students also underachieved, but the impact was less severe, a drop of 9 percentile points each. Tweet this.

 

More than 99.99% 

 

The percentage of Americans who are fully vaccinated and have not had a breakthrough COVID-19 infection leading to hospitalization or death, according to the CDC. The CDC reported 6,239 hospitalizations and 1,263 deaths among fully vaccinated people as of July 26, out of a population of more than 163 million fully vaccinated people. That means less than 0.004 percent of fully vaccinated people had a breakthrough case that led to a hospitalization, and less than 0.001 percent of fully vaccinated people died from COVID-19. Tweet this.

 

$1.6 billion/ 

$398 million 

Responding to the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, the Biden Administration has announced it is directing $1.6 billion for COVID-19 testing in high-risk settings such as prisons and homeless and domestic violence shelters. And it is directing $398 million to small rural hospitals for testing and reducing infection. Tweet this.

One-third

 

In an Indeed survey this summer, one-third of those looking for a job said they wouldn’t want to start in the next month, and a significant share said they were waiting for the schools to open. Among those who said they were unemployed but not urgently looking, nearly one-fifth said care responsibilities were the reason. Tweet this.

 

58/6 

 

Florida and New York State have roughly the same populations. Yet earlier this week, 58 people in Florida were dying each day of COVID-19, compared to six in New York. Two possible reasons: fewer vaccinated people and fewer restrictions in Florida.

 

One-third

 

Last week, one-third of all new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were in Florida and Texas.

 

One-fourth

 

One-fourth of unvaccinated adults in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Wednesday said they’ll probably get the shot by year’s end. But nearly half said they will “definitely not” get it and the remaining quarter called it “somewhat unlikely” or “very unlikely.” Just 34 percent of unvaccinated people said getting COVID-19 is a higher risk than getting a vaccination, while 53 percent said the vaccination is a higher risk.

 

9 states

 

The number of states that have enacted laws with prohibitions on vaccine mandates. Such laws generally apply to public schools and employees of local governments — they generally do not apply to the private sector. Nine states also have imposed various bans on mask mandates.

  

65%

 

Despite Texas’ anti-government mythos, a strong majority of Texans favor vaccine mandates. Sixty-five percent said they would support vaccine mandates issued by federal, state, or local governments; the national average was 64 percent. More than 70 percent of Texans would support vaccine requirements to board an airplane; more than 62 percent would support vaccine requirements for children returning to school; and 67 percent would support vaccine requirements for students returning to universities.

 

 

 

 

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What recess? This August, some activists are fanning out across the country to push for better health care, paid leave  https://www.chn.org/voices/what-recess-this-august-some-activists-are-fanning-out-across-the-country-to-push-for-better-health-care-paid-leave/ Fri, 06 Aug 2021 16:16:05 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7372 Congress is embarking upon an extended recess this month and beyond – but advocates for better health care and paid leave for every worker are using the August recess to advocate for a budget bill that includes their priorities. Protect Our Care has announced a 19-state tour that kicks off in Bangor and Portland, Maine this Monday, August 9. The nationwide tour – its third – will call for lowering health care costs, expanding coverage, and reducing racial disparities in care. And Paid Leave For All kicked off its bus tour with a stop in Providence, Rhode Island on Monday, August 2.

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Congress is embarking upon an extended recess this month and beyond – but advocates for better health care and paid leave for every worker are using the August recess to advocate for a budget bill that includes their priorities.   

Protect Our Care has announced a 19-state tour that kicks off in Bangor and Portland, Maine this Monday, August 9. The nationwide tour – its third – will call for lowering health care costs, expanding coverage, and reducing racial disparities in care. Care Force One’s “Lower Cost, Better Care” bus tour will travel throughout the Northeast before making stops across the Midwest and Southeast, and concludes with stops on the West Coast. You can view Protect Our Care’s planned bus itinerary here. 

And Paid Leave For All kicked off its bus tour with a stop in Providence, Rhode Island on Monday, August 2. Rhode Island was the third state to enact paid leave; others have followed, but federal legislation is needed to ensure that people across the country do not have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a newborn, a sick loved one, or their own recovery.  President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda includes a paid leave plan. This bus tour is one way of showing Congress there is support for including paid leave in the budget. It will travel to more than a dozen cities before winding up in Phoenix on Friday, August 13. You can view the group’s itinerary here, access its social media toolkit here, and follow its blog here. 

Protect Our Care will visit key congressional districts to demand that Congress include certain health care reforms in the upcoming budget reconciliation legislation. Specifically, the group is calling for Medicare to have the power to negotiate lower drug prices, create a federal solution to close the Medicaid coverage gap by providing federal insurance for poor people in states that have refused to expand their Medicaid programs, expand Medicare benefits to include vision, dental, and hearing, and make permanent the Affordable Care Act premium reductions included in the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March so millions of people can continue to access low-cost coverage. 

“While members of Congress go home to their districts this August recess, they’re going to have a chance to show their constituents whether they stand by President Biden’s agenda to improve health care for millions or if they side with Big Pharma and other special interests,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse in a news release. “When Congress returns this fall, we have a once in a generation opportunity to transform health care for the American people, and Care Force One will crisscross the country this summer making the case for getting this critical job done.” 

According to Protect Our Care, here is how the group’s four priorities would help Americans: 

Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices would save patients a considerable amount of money. Twenty-three percent of people age 65 and older report difficulties paying for their prescription drugs; negotiated lower prices in Medicaid would help them. 

More than 2 million Americans living in the 12 states that have refused to expand Medicaid would gain access to affordable, quality health care if the federal government stepped in to provide coverage; their incomes are too low to qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies, so no health care options are open to them without federal action. People of color make up 60 percent of those living in the health insurance gap. 

Some 4.2 million uninsured people would gain coverage if the American Rescue Plan’s A.C.A. subsidies are made permanent, and millions more would continue to save on health care costs. 

And if Medicare is expanded, nearly 38 million traditional Medicare enrollees would gain dental, vision and hearing coverage. 

The Senate is expected to pass its budget resolution before heading out for its August recess. Within it will be “reconciliation instructions,” which are marching orders for various congressional committees to come up with the details for proposals such as paid leave for all and health care expansions. House committees will be working on drafting such provisions during August, so advocates are doing the right thing by showing strong support for these and many other proposals over the recess period. In the fall, these plans will be combined into a reconciliation bill, which under the rules can pass in the Senate with only a simple majority.  

A simple majority is easier, but it will take every single Democrat in the Senate to pass, assuming Republicans maintain their opposition. Advocates know they still have a lot of work to do. 

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The ‘worst national eviction crisis in U.S. history?’ How you can help.  https://www.chn.org/voices/the-worst-national-eviction-crisis-in-u-s-history-how-you-can-help/ Fri, 30 Jul 2021 21:13:20 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7359 Just one day before a federal moratorium on evictions expires, House and Senate Democrats, the Biden Administration, housing advocates and local and state officials in some jurisdictions scrambled Friday to avert a nationwide humanitarian disaster. But one slim hope was dashed. The House of Representatives could not find the votes to pass an extension of the moratorium on its last day before recess. 

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Just one day before a federal moratorium on evictions expires, House and Senate Democrats, the Biden Administration, housing advocates and local and state officials in some jurisdictions scrambled Friday to avert a nationwide humanitarian disaster. But one slim hope was dashed. The House of Representatives could not find the votes to pass an extension of the moratorium on its last day before recess. 

U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey data show how dire the situation is — and that it might be getting worse. Data collected between May 26 and June 7 showed that 7.1 million renters said they were behind on their rent; of those, 3.2 million, or 46 percent, said they thought it was somewhat or very likely they would be evicted in the next two months. 

But about a month later, the same survey seemed to suggest the problem is expanding. Data collected between June 26 and July 7 showed that 7.4 million renters were behind on their rent; of those, 3.6 million, or just under 50 percent, said they thought it was somewhat or very likely they would be evicted in the next two months. During that same period, 2.1 million renters with children said they were somewhat or very likely to be evicted. 

“Lifting protections for renters is premature and will likely create the worst national eviction crisis in U.S. history,” wrote Jaboa Lake, Senior Policy Analyst for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress. 

Immediate action is needed 

The Coalition on Human Needs is urging everyone to write their members of Congress and demand that lawmakers substantially expand the nation’s housing voucher program – currently the waiting list for Housing Choice Vouchers averages 28 months and in some places is as long as five years. Congress passed emergency rental relief to stave off evictions, and the Biden Administration is ramping up efforts to distribute that money to tenants and landlords around the country. But as vital as the emergency aid is, it’s but a temporary plug in a bursting dam – we need more permanent solutions to America’s housing crisis. Write your members of Congress today. 

There’s something else you may be able to do, particularly if you know someone who is having trouble paying their rent, utilities, or other housing costs, or if you know of a landlord who is trying to stay afloat with tenants in this situation: they may qualify for the emergency aid. Congress has approved $46 billion in rent and utility assistance, but the money is flowing out more quickly in some places than others. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has unveiled a web site to help people learn if they qualify and navigate the application process – help spread the word! 

In the meantime, this is a bad time for the eviction moratorium to expire The Delta variant of COVID-19 is rapidly expanding throughout the country – a new report says the Delta variant spreads as easily as chickenpox and more easily than the common cold, the 1918 flu, and smallpox – and there is evidence that eviction moratoria save lives. 

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), research shows that evictions occurring between the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 and issuance of the first CDC eviction moratorium in September 2020 led to more than 400,000 additional COVID-19 cases and nearly 11,000 additional deaths. Other experts have noted that there is an overlap between localities with high eviction filings and low COVID-19 vaccination rates. 

“The emergence of the Delta variant necessitates a further extension of the CDC eviction moratorium to contain the spread of the deadly disease,” NLIHC states. “As stated by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on July 22, 2021, ‘the Delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains. It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen in my 20-year career.’” 

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New report: Corporate tax avoidance under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act https://www.chn.org/voices/new-report-corporate-tax-avoidance-under-the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act/ Thu, 29 Jul 2021 16:48:26 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7354 A new report published this week by Matthew Gardner and Steve Wamhoff of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that 39 profitable corporations in the S&P 500 or Fortune 500 paid no federal income tax from 2018 through 2020, the first three years that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was in effect. The 39 corporations were profitable in each of those three years and, as a group, reported to shareholders that they had generated $122 billion in profits during that period. 

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A new report published this week by Matthew Gardner and Steve Wamhoff of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that 39 profitable corporations in the S&P 500 or Fortune 500 paid no federal income tax from 2018 through 2020, the first three years that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was in effect. The 39 corporations were profitable in each of those three years and, as a group, reported to shareholders that they had generated $122 billion in profits during that period.

A previous ITEP report, published in April, identified 55 corporations that were profitable in 2020 but did not pay federal income taxes for that year. The new report expands on that analysis, finding corporate tax avoidance under our current tax laws is a long-term problem that is not unique to any particular year.

“It’s clear that many companies are paying abysmally low effective tax rates even in the years when they pay something,” said Gardner, a senior fellow at ITEP and co-author of the report. “Looking at a single year tells us a lot, but when we look at corporate tax-paying habits over several years, we get a better sense of the scale of the problem. This makes a clear case for Congress to enact significant tax reforms.” 

Among the 39 corporations that avoided paying federal income taxes over three years, T-Mobile reported the largest profits. It reported $11.5 billion in profits over this time but had a federal income tax liability of negative $80 million, meaning the company received $80 million in tax refunds.

Besides the 39 companies that paid nothing over three years, an additional 73 profitable corporations paid less than half the statutory corporate income tax rate of 21 percent established under TCJA. As a group, these 73 corporations paid an effective federal income tax rate of just 5.3 percent during these three years, meaning they paid federal income taxes equal to just 5.3 percent of their profits.

Among the 73 corporations that paid less than half of the statutory rate are household names such as Amazon, Bank of America, Deere, Domino’s Pizza, Etsy, General Motors, Honeywell, Molson Coors, Motorola, Netflix, Nike, Verizon, Walt Disney, Whirlpool and Xerox—which all paid effective federal income tax rates in the single digits.

“President Biden’s proposals would not solve all the problems with our tax system but they could significantly reduce the worst corporate tax avoidance we have identified,” said Wamhoff, director of federal policy at ITEP and a co-author of the report. 

You can download a PDF of the new report here.

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America’s next health challenge: How to care for millions with “long” covid  https://www.chn.org/voices/americas-next-health-challenge-how-to-care-for-millions-with-long-covid/ Thu, 29 Jul 2021 14:39:41 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7352 Even as the U.S. remains in the throes of the deadly pandemic, medical experts, health care advocates, and policy makers are turning their attention to a profound challenge: how to provide care and economic security for potentially millions of Americans facing long-term COVID-19-related disability. As of this week, some 34.5 million Americans are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began – the number could be significantly higher. New, emerging studies show one –fourth or more of the people who contract the virus suffer from some form of “long covid.”

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Even as the U.S. remains in the throes of the deadly pandemic, medical experts, health care advocates, and policy makers are turning their attention to a profound challenge: how to provide care and economic security for potentially millions of Americans facing long-term COVID-19-related disability. 

As of this week, some 34.5 million Americans are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began – the number could be significantly higher. New, emerging studies show one –fourth or more of the people who contract the virus suffer from some form of “long covid.” Manifestations of long COVID-19 might include respiratory problems, “brain fog,” cardiac, renal and gastrointestinal issues; and loss of smell and taste. 

For many, these issues may in time go away. For others, they may not — which raises disturbing health care and economic policy implications.  

“As scientists and clinicians continue to delineate the “long-haul” course of COVID, policy makers and planners must anticipate and prepare for the impact of this new cause of disability, including its implications for federal and private workers’ compensation and disability insurance programs and support services,” writes Dr. Claire Pomeroy, an infectious disease specialist and President of the Lasker Foundation, in a recent issue of Scientific American. “While the number of patients with persistent illness remains undetermined this early in the pandemic, estimates suggest that millions of Americans may enter the ranks of the permanently disabled.” 

Dr. Pomeroy adds that it is too early to assess what the health care and disability costs of caring for “long” COVID-19 patients will be. 

“How many ‘long haulers’ will never be able to return to work?” she asks. “How many will need short-term disability payments? How many will be permanently disabled and become dependent on disability programs? As increasing numbers of younger people become infected, will we see an entire generation of chronically ill? We must actively work to better understand the size and scope of the problem and begin planning now.” 

New, emerging studies show one –fourth or more of the people who contract the virus suffer from some form of “long covid.”

 

Dr. Pomeroy writes that long-term COVID-19 costs – in addition to personal suffering – include increased health care costs, reduction or loss of employment, and economic strain on worker’s compensation and disability support programs. She says it has been estimated that as much as 30 percent of the COVID-19 health burden could arise from COVID-induced disability. And she quotes physician and University of Massachusetts Medical Professor Steven Martin, who recently told NPR, “If we end up with a million people with ongoing symptoms that are debilitating, that is a tremendous burden for each of these individuals, but also for our health care system and our society.” 

This week, at least 11 newly formed groups who came together to support COVID-19 patients and their loved ones are fanning out across the U.S. Capitol, meeting with at least 90 members of Congress or their staffs. Their goal is to plant the needs of those who have suffered from the pandemic clearly on the public agenda. 

One of those groups is Marked By Covid, co-founded by Kristin Urquiza after her father, a Trump supporter, contracted and died from COVID-19 in June 2020 after Arizona’s governor opened up the state too soon. She said she and about 200 volunteers are participating in a mix of in-person and virtual meetings on Capitol Hill this week, asking lawmakers to memorialize the pandemic and to do more to address disparities affecting communities of color. 

There is evidence that Urquiza and her allies might have found an ear in the Biden Administration. Earlier this week, President Biden announced that long-term symptoms of COVID-19 could be considered a disability under federal civil rights laws. 

“Many Americans seemingly recovered from the virus still face lingering challenges like breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain and fatigue,” Biden said at a Rose Garden ceremony in which he commemorated the anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. “These conditions can sometimes rise to the level of a disability. So we’re bringing agencies together to make sure Americans with long covid, who have a disability, have access to the rights and resources that are due under the disability law, which includes accommodations and services.” 

Even before Biden made his comments, the Biden Administration this week issued guidelines clarifying that “long covid” could be considered a disability under various federal civil rights laws that would afford protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and other areas. But it clarified that long covid is not automatically a disability and that an “individual assessment” is required to determine whether a person’s long-term symptoms “substantially limits a major life activity.”

It is certainly a positive step that discrimination against people with long covid will not be allowed. But it is clear that more steps will need to be taken to ensure that, for example, Social Security disability payments and other types of payments such as workers’ compensation flow to those in need in a timely manner. 

“It’s understandable that we don’t yet have all the issues related to COVID-associated disability figured out; we haven’t fully grasped all the implications of this pernicious (and still somewhat mysterious) malady,” Dr. Pomeroy writes. “After all, since early 2020, we’ve been struggling to address the immediate crisis and how to deal with the new problems that arise day by day. But the time has come to proactively plan for what will certainly be the enormous new impact that long-haul COVID will have on our disability programs.” 

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Across the country, families are benefiting from expanded Child Tax Credit https://www.chn.org/voices/across-the-country-families-are-benefiting-from-expanded-child-tax-credit/ Fri, 23 Jul 2021 17:46:09 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7337 The Coalition on Human Needs, working with Public News Service, is telling the stories of communities and families that are benefiting from the Child Tax Credit expansion. Here are seven stories that have been produced in the past eight days.

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The Coalition on Human Needs, working with Public News Service, is telling the stories of communities and families that are benefiting from the Child Tax Credit expansion. Here are seven stories that have been produced in the past eight days.

Groups Push Congress to Make  Child Tax Credit Permanent
PHOENIX — Starting this week, most Arizona families with children are seeing extra money in their bank accounts, and more than 1.5 million Arizona kids will benefit. The money can be used for anything families need; groceries, rent, utility bills, or childcare. Ilana Lowrey, Arizona director for the nonprofit Common Sense, said the only problem with the plan is, it expires at the end of this year. “We really want to urge Congress to extend those benefits because after six months, if it goes away at the end of the year, what happens then?” Lowrey questioned. “We want Congress to include a permanent extension in the upcoming American Family Plan.” READ MORE »
CO Families Already Benefiting from Advance Child Tax Payments
DENVER — Parents are now receiving fully refundable monthly 2021 Advance Child Tax Credit payments, and advocates for children and families have urged Congress to make them permanent. Holly Baumkratz, a parent in Boulder with two children, said monthly payments, at $250 for each child per month, are a game-changer. Both she and her husband work, but she explained they cannot afford health insurance for their kids at $1,700 a month, which is out of budget for their family. READ MORE »
ME Parents, Advocates: Make Expanded Child Tax Credit Permanent
AUGUSTA, Maine — Parents are now receiving fully refundable monthly 2021 Advance Child Tax Credit payments, and advocates for children and families have urged Congress to make them permanent. Melissa Hackett, communications and policy associate for the Maine Children’s Alliance, pointed to research that shows 90% of Maine kids will benefit each year from permanent expansion. “In terms of the specific number of kids that will be lifted above the poverty line, if we were to make this expansion permanent, we’re looking at around 10,000 children,” Hackett reported. “That would be a reduction by 45% of child poverty in our state.” READ MORE »
Child Tax Credit Could Bring Thousands of NH Kids Out of Poverty
MANCHESTER, N.H. – Parents are now receiving fully refundable monthly 2021 Advance Child Tax Credit payments, and advocates for children and families are urging Congress to make them permanent. Carrie Martin Duran is a Manchester single mom of three, and one of her daughters has Down syndrome. She said she plans to use her August payment for back-to-school expenses. “I can’t even tell you how that makes me feel,” said Duran. “That this is one school year, I’m not going to have to stress and worry that they’ve got their new shoes, a new backpack and all of that stuff. That’s always been a very stressful, awful time for me as a parent on a financial level.” READ MORE »
Child Tax Credit Expansion Seen as Major Boost for Virginia Families
LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — Beginning last week, thousands of Virginia families with children saw more money in their bank accounts as the federal government started distributing Child Tax Credit payments to eligible families. Vilma Hernandez-Morales is a mother of four with three children younger than 17 who qualify for the monthly payments. A legal resident of Loudoun County, originally from El Salvador, she supports her entire family by babysitting and taking on part-time jobs. Her daughter Esmirelda said they will use the money for everyday expenses that have piled up during the pandemic. READ MORE »
Child Tax Credit Helping WV Families Pay for Transportation, Food
WHEELING, W.Va. — An estimated 346,000 West Virginia children, 93% of all kids in the state, live in households that likely received their first Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments last week. Stormy Johnson, with the Preston County Board of Education and a mother of three children, said the extra cash provided by the CTC will help her make her monthly car payment. “Here in Preston County, if you don’t have a vehicle, you don’t have a lot,” Johnson observed. “Because we don’t have access to public transportation like there are in some different counties.” READ MORE »
Budget Stabilizer: Child Tax Credit Payments Arrive for WI Families
MADISON, Wis. — The federal government today begins issuing monthly payments under the expanded Child Tax Credit. Advocates for working families in Wisconsin say it goes beyond cutting poverty rates. They say it will remove a lot of monthly budget pressure for scores of households. Meghan Roh, program director for Opportunity Wisconsin, said aside from the credit amount going up, age limits have been expanded, making more families eligible. “Speaking as a parent myself, you know, raising a family is tough,” Roh remarked. “And even with careful budgeting, folks can fall behind on keeping up with their expenses.” READ MORE »
 

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship, July 23, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-july-23/ Fri, 23 Jul 2021 17:45:00 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7342 The Pandemic of the Unvaccinated edition. New COVID-19 infections are on the rise in all 50 states, in some cases sharply. The Delta variant is flourishing, racing through the bodies of the unvaccinated, particularly in Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, where most people have not received their shots, and in Florida, which critics say opened up too fully and too quickly. In Arkansas, where only 44.5 percent are fully vaccinated, there are 38 new cases per 100,000 residents. Contrast that with Vermont, with its 77.3 percent vaccination rate and just two cases per 100,000 residents. 

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COVID-19 Hardship

July 23, 2021 

The Pandemic of the Unvaccinated edition. New COVID-19 infections are on the rise in all 50 states, in some cases sharply. The Delta variant is flourishing, racing through the bodies of the unvaccinated, particularly in Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, where most people have not received their shots, and in Florida, which critics say opened up too fully and too quickly. In Arkansas, where only 44.5 percent are fully vaccinated, there are 38 new cases per 100,000 residents. Contrast that with Vermont, with its 77.3 percent vaccination rate and just two cases per 100,000 residents. 

“We are either going to get vaccinated and end the virus. Or we are going to accept death,” a Louisiana doctor told CBS Evening News. 

There is some good news. This week, more Republican leaders began urging their constituents to get vaccinated. This included Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the second-ranking House Republican. He got his vaccination last weekend and urged his followers to do the same. And it included Fox host Sean Hannity who said this week, “I believe in the science of vaccination.” 

Meanwhile, the CDC this week released new, startling statistics showing that Americans’ life expectancy took a nosedive between 2019 and 2020. But again, like everything related to the pandemic, all was not equal. Latinx people experienced the greatest drop in life expectancy – three years – and Blacks saw a decrease of 2.9 years. Whites experienced the smallest decline, of 1.2 years. “American society has become far more unequal than it used to be, and the recent increases in mortality are concentrated among working-class Americans, especially those without a four-year college degree,” the New York Times wrote. 

Just as we will not defeat the pandemic by declining vaccinations and engaging in unsafe practices, we also will not reverse the decline in life expectancy by allowing inequality, poverty, and lack of opportunity to continue or worsen. 

That is why the work in Congress is so important. It is why we must tell our Senators and Representatives that we need infrastructure – both the human and the physical kind. It is why we must address housing and nutrition assistance and home care and affordable child care – and so much more. 

This week, please remind Congress that child care and early childhood education are essential parts of our infrastructure

 

+171%/ 

+49%/+42% 

As of July 21, new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were up 171 percent from two weeks previously. Hospitalizations were up 49 percent and deaths were up 42 percent. Tweet this.

 

– 18 months 

Life expectancy declined from 78.8 to 77.3 years from 2019 to 2020, in large part due to the pandemic. It was the worst decline since 1943, in the middle of WWII. COVID’s disparate toll: Latinx people lost 3 full years; Blacks lost 2.9 years; whites lost 1.2 years. Tweet this.

 

35.8% 

 

Of adults living in households not current on rent or mortgage, 35.8 percent report eviction or foreclosure in the next two months is somewhat or very likely.  The CDC-mandated eviction moratorium will expire at the end of July. Tweet this.

 

 

6.5% 

Just 6.5 percent of $46 billion in rental assistance approved by Congress has reached tenants or landlords, the Treasury Department said this week. The pace of distribution of the funds has picked up, reaching 290,519 households in June, up from 156,943 in May. Tweet this.

 

$140 billion 

 

New research published this week shows collection agencies held $140 billion in unpaid medical bills last year – much more than previously thought. In 2020, Americans living in states that did not expand Medicaid owed an average of $375 more than those who lived in states that participated in the program. Tweet this.

 

Half – or one-third

 

Half (50%) of 19-64 year-old adults who were uninsured had medical bill debt or problems in the past year; even for the insured, 36% had medical debt or bill problems.

 

225% 

 

The rapidly spreading delta variant is thought to be 225 percent more transmissible than earlier strains of COVID-19, causing some experts to recommend indoor mask-wearing, even for the fully vaccinated. 

 

Nearly 3 in 4 

74 percent of registered voters support reinstating mask mandates in their area if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, according to a new poll. This includes a strong majority of Republicans.

 

35 million/ 

60 million 

On Thursday, July 15, the Treasury Department and the IRS began sending monthly Child Tax Credit payments to roughly 35 million families with almost 60 million children. The payments totaled about $15 billion.

 

40 million

 

The number of Americans over age 55 who have no money saved and risk heading into poverty. That’s nearly half of people in this age group.

 

 

 

 

 

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Immigrant advocates: In wake of latest ruling, only Congress can permanently protect DREAMERS  https://www.chn.org/voices/immigrant-advocates-in-wake-of-latest-ruling-only-congress-can-permanently-protect-dreamers/ Thu, 22 Jul 2021 19:45:36 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7341 Last week's ruling from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas bars the government from approving applications from future DACA applicants. It does not, however, immediately affect nearly 650,000 who currently have DACA protection. Still: it highlights the legal uncertainty facing these individuals, many of whom do not even remember their original country because they left it at such an early age. And it is a stark reminder that the only solution for DACA recipients – and others such as Temporary Protected Status holders, farm workers, and other essential workers – is immigration reform in Congress. 

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Editor’s note: Dominique Espinoza, CHN’s Outreach and Engagement Specialist, contributed to this blog post. 

A federal judge in Texas late last week ruled that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is illegal, once again throwing into question the status of hundreds of thousands of people brought to the U.S. as children. 

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas bars the government from approving applications from future DACA applicants. It does not, however, immediately affect nearly 650,000 who currently have DACA protection. 

Still: it highlights the legal uncertainty facing these individuals, many of whom do not even remember their original country because they left it at such an early age. And it is a stark reminder that the only solution for DACA recipients – and others such as Temporary Protected Status holders, farm workers, and other essential workers – is immigration reform in Congress. 

Judge Hansen described DACA as an unlawful overreach of the Obama Administration. However, in a separate opinion released the same day as the first, he said eliminating DACA for current recipients would be too disruptive and he stayed a major part of his original ruling. 

“Hundreds of thousands of individual DACA recipients, along with their employers, states, and loved ones, have come to rely on the DACA program,” Hanen wrote. “Given those interests, it is not equitable for a government program that has engendered such a significant reliance to terminate suddenly. This consideration, along with the government’s assertion that it is ready and willing to try to remedy the legal defects of the DACA program, indicates that equity will not be served by a complete and immediate cessation of DACA.” 

President Biden responded to the ruling by calling it “deeply disappointing” and saying the Department of Justice will appeal. 

“While the court’s order does not now affect current DACA recipients, this decision nonetheless relegates hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future,” Biden said in statement. 

A DACA recipient spoke during a sit-in for immigration reform in Washington, D.C., on April 28. A federal judge on Friday ordered the federal government to stop granting new DACA applications. Credit: Alejandro Alvarez/Sipa USA via REUTERS

Immigrant advocates responded forcefully, saying Congress must include immigration reform in the reconciliation measure currently being pieced together. 

“Enough is enough; it is time for our elected officials to do their job,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center, in a statement. “Congress must use the reconciliation process to pass a legalization bill this year that provides an expedited and fully inclusive path to citizenship for the broadest possible population, including all DACA-eligible youth, Temporary Protected Status holders, farmworkers, and other essential workers. We look to Congress to ensure that no one is left behind.” 

Philip E. Wolgin, Acting Vice President of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, said more than 60,000 DACA-eligible individuals, who have applied for the program but seen their applications delayed, will now be blocked from relief. 

And he said that the more than 600,000 DACA recipients are the parents of 254,000 U.S. citizen children. They contributed $8.8 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2019. He said 200,000 DACA recipients – including an estimated 29,000 doctors, nurses, and technicians – have been on the front lines during the pandemic, protecting the health and safety of Americans and putting their own health and safety and that of their families at risk. “Judge Hanen’s decision only adds further uncertainty for these recipients, their families, and their communities,” he said. 

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked an attempt by the Trump Administration to shut down the DACA program altogether. In his ruling, Judge Hanen drew from both the majority and dissenting opinions in that ruling. He echoed a dissent written by Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, that said DACA was an “unlawful program.” 

“Justice Thomas noted that the majority’s failure to address DACA’s creation was ‘an effort to avoid a politically controversially but legally correct decision’ that would result in future ‘battles to be fought in this Court,'” Hanen wrote. “While the controversial issue may ultimately return to the Supreme Court, the battle Justice Thomas predicted currently resides here and it is not one this Court can avoid.” 

Interestingly, Judge Hanen was not the only one to foreshadow the possibility of DACA’s return to the nation’s highest court. 

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), a party to the case, agreed that the case is ripe for appeal. 

“The decision was plainly determined by the judge’s views of many years ago, and the decision fails to reconcile important recent developments in the law of standing and of presidential authority; it therefore presents numerous grounds for potentially successful appeal,” Saenz said in a statement. 

Nonetheless, a sobering and timely fact remains: the only way to fully protect current DACA recipients and future DACA recipients is to pass a law in Congress that fully protects all DACA recipients. 

“DACA is a hugely successful and transformative policy with overwhelming public support,” said Avideh Moussavian, Director of Federal Advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center in a statement. “But we have always known that a permanent solution is necessary. Immigrant youth have lived through years of uncertainty as a result of politically motivated attacks on DACA that put them at risk of being separated from their loved ones and being deported. No one should have to plan their lives in two-year increments or from one administration to the next.” 

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CHN’s Podcast Episode 3: How to Ensure Equity Before and After Birth for All Families? Investments in Paid Leave and Child Care – A Conversation with Advocate Joy Spencer. https://www.chn.org/voices/episode-3-podcast-paid-leave-child-care/ Thu, 22 Jul 2021 15:33:20 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7330 CHN's latest Voices for Human Needs Podcast discusses the investments in paid leave and child care with advocate Joy Spencer, the Executive Director of Equity Before Birth, a member of MomsRising, and a single mother of a three-year-old. During our conversation, Joy shares how she is channeling her lived experiences as a working mother to advocate on behalf of improving health outcomes for Black mothers and their children in addition to expanding access to affordable child care options and paid leave opportunities for all working parents.

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Episode Summary
Episode 3 Cover. How to Achieve Equity Before and After Birth? Paid Leave and Child Care for All. Featuring Joy Spencer's headshot.

This episode of the Voices for Human Needs Podcast is all about the fight for paid leave and universal child care featuring a special conversation with Joy Spencer, the Executive Director of Equity Before Birth, a member with MomsRising, and a mother of a three-year-old. Joy shares how she uses her lived experiences as a working mother to advocate on behalf of improving health outcomes for Black mothers and their children in addition to expanding access to affordable child care options and paid leave opportunities for all working parents.

As a single mom in Durham, North Carolina, Joy struggled to keep her job while needing paid medical leave during her high-risk pregnancy, and later when needing child care for her young child. As an advocate with the national grassroots organization, MomsRising, Joy recently testified before the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means in April 2021 at a hearing entitled “In Their Own Words: Paid Leave, Child Care, and an Economy That Failed Women,” where she shared her own experiences and the challenges she has overcome to stay in the workforce while balancing the health of herself and her daughter: “This was the first time that Congress held a hearing basically only about lived experience.” Joy shared. “Everyone on the panel was a mom and a business owner or a leader in their community that helps other families, especially in the areas of child care and paid leave. I feel that I was a part of making history.”

Joy’s story highlights how critical it is to pass proposed policies within the American Families Plan and President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda that would expand infrastructure for paid family and medical leave and child care. In addition, Joy discusses how such policies will promote greater equity and support all families across the socio-economic spectrum, especially for BIPOC parents. Last, but not least, Joy advises listeners on how to connect with other advocates in their communities and utilize storytelling to inform the elected leaders of these needed policies. Listen below and please share!

How to Listen

Follow and subscribe to our show wherever you get your podcasts (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and more), to receive notifications when we release a new episode. The full transcript of this podcast episode is available here.

Building back better with paid leave and child care for all

Implementing a national paid family and medical leave for workers in addition to making meaningful federal investments to expand access to high-quality child care options for parents to be able to work are among the “Top 12 Solutions to Cut Poverty in the U.S.” as reported by the Center for American Progress. The public health crisis of COVID-19 demonstrated just how essential paid leave policies and child care programs are so that workers do not have to sacrifice their income to meet the needs of their families. 

When asked about current child care investments being debated by policymakers, Joy commented, “Universal child care would be a game-changer. Every single child, every baby, every human needs a caregiver. Our babies cannot take care of themselves. I just cannot understand why we take the risk of leaving a parent without an option to have their child taken care of for the majority of their waking hours while that parent has to be at work.”

Congress is working over the next few weeks in its effort to pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan and a budget resolution. The fate of President Biden’s American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan proposals to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave and child care infrastructure to build new and upgrade existing child care facilities across the country (including at community college campuses and businesses), and make child care free for working families making the lowest-incomes will be voted on during the budget reconciliation process. Reconciliation will only require a simple majority vote of 50 Senators (plus the tie-breaking vote by the Vice President) to pass the care infrastructure legislation.

Now is the time for listeners like you to contact your elected representatives by phone, social media, or signing onto action letters (featured below) urging them to vote for legislation investing in paid leave and child care during the reconciliation process.

 Actions You Can Take Now

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Breaking: The CTC expansion has arrived, and there is much to celebrate  https://www.chn.org/voices/breaking-the-ctc-expansion-has-arrived-and-there-is-much-to-celebrate/ Thu, 15 Jul 2021 19:27:39 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7324 During the recent congressional recess, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) traversed his state, speaking with families about the new Child Tax Credit. A mother told Brown that because she now will be able to afford child care, she is returning to work full time. Another mother said she is going to save for her daughter’s future education. A father said he is sending his boy to summer camp for the first time ever. And another parent said their daughter will now be able to play fast-pitch softball because the family can afford to purchase the equipment, for the first time.

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During the recent congressional recess, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) traversed his state, speaking with families about the new Child Tax Credit expansion, which beginning Thursday, July 15 will see nearly 39 million households each month receive an extra $300 per child age 5 or under and $250 per child age 6 through 17. 

A mother told Brown that because she now will be able to afford child care, she is returning to work full time. Another mother said she is going to save for her daughter’s future education. A father said he is sending his boy to summer camp for the first time ever. And another parent said their daughter will now be able to play fast-pitch softball because the family can afford to purchase the equipment, for the first time. 

“We provide the dollars and they make the choice as to what’s best for their families,” Brown said. “If you have three children, and two are under 6, and one is 10, you’ll get $300 plus $300 plus $250, you’ll get $850 a month and you’ll be able to figure out… Is that to help me pay rent so I can make rent this month? Is it to send their kids to camp? Is it to put some money aside so they can go to St. Clair Community College or Ohio State University? It’s those decisions parents will make.”

For about 90 percent of the 39 million families (including 65 million children) who qualify, the new benefit begins hitting people’s bank accounts via direct deposit today, or in their mail boxes via snail mail very soon. Other families who did not file income taxes for 2019 or 2020 because their incomes were too low or did not receive the last rounds of stimulus checks will have to file to receive the new benefit. The IRS has established an easy-to-use portal for filing; you can access it here. 

On Wednesday, six congressional champions of the Child Tax Credit expansion, known informally as the “CTC 6,” came together for a Facebook Live event to celebrate the expansion and urge that it be made permanent. Besides Brown, the six included Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), and Ritchie Torres (D-NY). 

They were joined by Reshonna Booker, a Seattle mother and member of MomsRising, who is studying to be a teacher. Reshonna and her husband had their first child right in the midst of the pandemic – on Juneteenth, 2020. Since then, they have struggled. 

“The extra money will mean so much for my family,” Reshonna said. “It will go straight to diapers, food, baby food, rent, and bills…I’m especially glad that they recognized the extra costs that come with having children under 5 years old. And I really hope that lawmakers make this credit permanent. After all, raising kids is incredibly expensive, even when there is no pandemic. My family will need these funds even as my son continues to grow.” 

Rep. DeLauro, Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee and a person credited for being one of the fiercest advocates for the CTC expansion, said today is a day worth celebrating. “How life-changing! Families are dealing with extraordinary expenses – food, child care, diapers, health care, and clothing,” she said. 

Many speakers warned, however, that the CTC expansion is temporary; it only runs through the current year. “Now, I raised two kids and I think we all know kids don’t grow up in one year or in five years,” said Rep. DelBene. “And that’s why all of us on this call are committed to making this expansion permanent.” 

Rep. Torres called the CTC expansion “the most transformational investment in children and families in the history of the United States. It will be to the 21st Century what Social Security was to the 20th Century.” 

Torres said the “unsung heroes of the South Bronx, which I represent, are mostly women of color for whom the CTC is both a game-changer and a life-saver – a life-saver for mothers who can finally serve their children three meals a day, for mothers who no longer have to depend on abusive intimate partners for survival, for mothers who can begin paying down their rent arrears that have accumulated during COVID-19. Give families the tools to succeed and more families will succeed – it’s that simple.” 

 Sen. Bennet noted that before he arrived at the U.S. Senate, he served as a Superintendent for Denver Public Schools. “Most of the students lived in poverty and many of their parents worked two or three jobs and no matter what they did, they couldn’t get their kids out of poverty,” he said. 

Experts say the CTC expansion alone will reduce child poverty in the U.S. by almost 50 percent. Coupled with other aid, such as nutrition and housing assistance, and the child poverty rate could be reduced by more than 50 percent, they say. 

“This is the biggest investment in kids, families, and the middle class since Lyndon Johnson was President over 50 years ago,” Bennet said. “It’s the most progressive change to the tax code ever and it’s the single biggest blow to child poverty in America’s history.” 

Sen. Booker said the United States is “one of the worst nations, of wealthy, developed nations, when it comes to investing in our children, especially in their early years. And the reason why that is such a self-inflicted wound is because dollars invested in evidence-based policies produce a multiple return.” 

“This policy is profound in its impact,” Sen. Booker concluded. “This is a glorious day and we must make sure that this year, almost everyone who is eligible, over 90 percent of American families, get this resource to help their children flourish.” 

The Coalition on Human Needs has been working for years alongside many organizations to expand the Child Tax Credit. Viewing the CTC 6 Congressional champions, Deborah Weinstein, CHN’s Executive Director, said “Investing in all our children is not only the obligation one generation owes to the next, it is the best way to secure our future. This extra stability for families will help children thrive, progress in school and share their talents and strengths throughout their lives. We pledge to work with these Congressional champions to make this historic advance permanent.” 

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Budget stabilizer: Child Tax Credit payments arrive for Wisconsin families https://www.chn.org/voices/budget-stabilizer-child-tax-credit-payments-arrive-for-wisconsin-families/ Thu, 15 Jul 2021 19:24:32 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7325 Advocates for working families in Wisconsin say it goes beyond cutting poverty rates. They say it will remove a lot of monthly budget pressure for scores of households. The tax credit, expanded under the American Rescue Plan, includes monthly payments of $250 to $300 for each child through the end of the year. The Coalition on Human Needs said nearly 1.2 million Wisconsin children will benefit from the overall expansion, and 46,000 kids will be lifted out of poverty. But advocates warn it's just a temporary increase, and there are repeated calls to make it permanent.

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MADISON, Wis. — The federal government today begins issuing monthly payments under the expanded Child Tax Credit.

Advocates for working families in Wisconsin say it goes beyond cutting poverty rates. They say it will remove a lot of monthly budget pressure for scores of households.

The tax credit, expanded under the American Rescue Plan, includes monthly payments of $250 to $300 for each child through the end of the year.

Meghan Roh, program director for Opportunity Wisconsin, said aside from the credit amount going up, age limits have been expanded, making more families eligible.

“Speaking as a parent myself, you know, raising a family is tough,” Roh remarked. “And even with careful budgeting, folks can fall behind on keeping up with their expenses.”

She noted those recurring budget challenges existed before COVID set many families back.

As for other provisions, parents who earn too little to pay taxes are also eligible.

The Coalition on Human Needs said nearly 1.2 million Wisconsin children will benefit from the overall expansion, and 46,000 kids will be lifted out of poverty. But advocates warn it’s just a temporary increase, and there are repeated calls to make it permanent.

The federal government has taken a variety of steps to help people negatively impacted by the crisis recover from their hardships.

Roh acknowledged while the federal boost added to what has been done, she hopes the significance of the expansion is not lost on the general public.

“This new monthly funding will help families across the state put food on the table, pay the bills, save for college,” Roh outlined.

As was the case with enhanced jobless benefits during the crisis, skeptics say the expanded credit could discourage people from working. But backers point to a 2019 National Academy of Sciences expert panel report, which found almost all low- to moderate-income families would keep working if an expansion were approved.

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship July 9, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-july-9/ Fri, 09 Jul 2021 18:25:34 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7306 The door-to-door-vaccination-drive edition. As of Thursday, 605,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. The CDC estimates that the more dangerous Delta variant now makes up a majority of new cases in the U.S. 67.1 percent of adults have at least one vaccine dose; 58.3 percent are fully vaccinated. The U.S. has been averaging fewer than 15,000 new cases a day for nearly a month. In recent days, however, the average number of new cases has started to trend slightly upward, driven largely by localized outbreaks in places with low vaccination rates, including parts of Missouri, Arkansas, and Nevada. 

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COVID-19 HardshipJuly 9, 2021 

The door-to-door-vaccination-drive edition. As of Thursday, 605,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. The CDC estimates that the more dangerous Delta variant now makes up a majority of new cases in the U.S. 67.1 percent of adults have at least one vaccine dose; 58.3 percent are fully vaccinated. The U.S. has been averaging fewer than 15,000 new cases a day for nearly a month. In recent days, however, the average number of new cases has started to trend slightly upward, driven largely by localized outbreaks in places with low vaccination rates, including parts of Missouri, Arkansas, and Nevada. 

“It is the unvaccinated people who are dying,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, told TV station WLBT. “The unvaccinated people who are going to the hospital. The unvaccinated people who are getting diagnosed, for the most part.”

President Biden has urged renewed efforts to encourage Americans to get their shots, including door-to-door drives in neighborhoods with high numbers of unvaccinated people. We’re all in this together – we can’t conquer COVID-19 and starve new variants of their human hosts unless enough of us get vaccinated. 

Meanwhile, hunger and unemployment remain much too high in the U.S., fueled by inequality and structural racism. And there is important legislation to pass. Congress is bearing down on at least three key pieces – a reconciliation bill, which will include portions of President Biden’s American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan; a bipartisan infrastructure bill; and the President’s budget. 

We have a lot of work to do and a busy summer ahead of us. 

Please tell your Senators and Representative to act. 

 

16,000/250,000 

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases has started to rise again (up 39 percent over the past 2 weeks). But at just over 16,000 on July 8,it’s a far cry from the worst days of the pandemic last winter, when new cases sometimes exceeded 250,000 a day. Tweet this.

 

Less than 2 in 5 

Fewer than 40 percent of adults in Nevada, where COVID-19 cases are spiking, have received a vaccination. In southern Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, about 95 percent of those who have been hospitalized have not been vaccinated. Tweet this.

 

54%/72% 

Only 54 percent of adults living in rural areas have received at least one vaccine shot, according to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, compared with 72 percent of adults living in urban areas. Kaiser also found that vaccination rates were below average for Americans under 50; Blacks; Republicans; and those without a college degree. Tweet this.

 

Less than 3;

18 or more 

In many urban and suburban communities, COVID-19 cases continue to plummet. The rate of new cases has fallen below three per 100,000 in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. But in Arkansas and Missouri, the rate is 20 and 18 per 100,000, respectively. And those states are followed by Louisiana and Nevada (each at 14), as of July 8. Tweet this.

  

6 and 19;

34 and 1 

University of Albany researchers, in conjunction with the NY Department of Health, conducted antibody testing on more than 15,000 people at grocery stores in 26 counties last April. The test results were startling: Black and Latinx residents had COVID-19 antibody rates exceeding their share of the population by a respective 6 and 19 percentage points, while rates among whites and Asians fell short of their populations by a respective 34 and 1 percentage points. The study found structural racism is to blame for the toll COVID-19 has taken on New York’s communities of color. Tweet this.

 

2x 

Among Latinx respondents to the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, 21.4 chose to take the survey in Spanish. Those who did so said that they did not always have enough to eat in the previous week at two times the level reported by Latinx respondents who took the survey in English. This finding, and others, suggests more economic hardship borne by Spanish-speaking Latinx.

  

13% 

The percent of adults living in households with children who were not caught up on their rent or mortgage. Of those not caught up, 38 percent sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week.

 

10.1 million 

Overall, about 10.1 million adults in households with children sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week.

  

About 1/3 

About one-third of adults in households with children said they were currently unemployed. Among these, 18 percent said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week. Close to one in five Latinx and Blacks living in households with children reported some lack of food – more than double the proportion of whites (8.5%).

 

31 million 

The number of adults with children who reported difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the past week (35%).

 

 

 

 

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Millions of evictions are coming. And rental assistance can’t arrive soon enough.  https://www.chn.org/voices/millions-of-evictions-are-coming-and-rental-assistance-cant-arrive-soon-enough/ Fri, 09 Jul 2021 14:30:56 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7308 With a federal moratorium set to expire in a matter of weeks, the Biden Administration, state and local officials, and housing advocates are scrambling to avoid what could soon be the biggest eviction crisis in U.S. history. Although the order provided a certain amount of protection for a time, the moratorium did nothing to help renters whose accumulated debt has grown larger and larger during the pandemic. Estimates vary as to how many American households are behind on their rent, but most experts put the number somewhere between 8 million and 13 million. Many of the estimated 30 million people living in these households will be at risk of eviction in a few short weeks. 

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With a federal moratorium set to expire in a matter of weeks, the Biden Administration, state and local officials, and housing advocates are scrambling to avoid what could soon be the biggest eviction crisis in U.S. history. 

Three times during the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has imposed or extended a national moratorium on evictions. The moratorium prevents families who are facing pandemic-related financial hardships from being removed from their homes. But it does not prevent landlords from filing eviction notices with the courts – and once the moratorium expires on July 31, cases are expected to quickly proceed. There are no plans to extend it. 

When the CDC first declared the moratorium back in September 2020, its order stated that “evictions threaten to increase the spread of COVID-19 as they force people to move, often into close quarters in new shared housing settings with friends or family, or congregate settings such as homeless shelters.” 

Although the order provided a certain amount of protection for a time, the moratorium did nothing to help renters whose accumulated debt has grown larger and larger during the pandemic. Estimates vary as to how many American households are behind on their rent, but most experts put the number somewhere between 8 million and 13 million. Many of the estimated 30 million people living in these households will be at risk of eviction in a few short weeks. 

Renters in San Diego show their support for a California measure prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants because of unpaid rent during the pandemic. Photo credit: Mike Blake | Reuters

Congress has attempted to address the problem. Between an aid package passed in December and the American Rescue Plan passed in March, it has appropriated roughly $46 billion in aid for renters – but much of that money has not flowed to renters and landlords, in part because of local bureaucratic challenges, in part because of difficulties in applying for the aid, and in very large part because the U.S. has never had a national program of appropriate scale to address an eviction crisis. 

Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), points to three factors that could help those at greatest risk of eviction, according to the Washington Post: Applications should be simple. Aid should go directly to tenants if landlords don’t participate in an application, so tenants can pay the landlord. And when possible, people should be able to look to “self-attestation,” meaning documents could be verified by tenants and landlords themselves. 

“Programs that overburden themselves and applicants with bureaucracy slow the process for everyone and risk leaving out those tenants most vulnerable to eviction,” Yentel said. 

Late last month, the White House convened an emergency meeting of representatives from 50 cities to discuss what can be done to stave off the impending crisis. The Biden Administration is urging courts, states and localities, legal aid organizations and housing advocates to do what they can to keep families in homes – but the White House’s ability to do this on its own is limited. Despite this, the Biden Administration is actively encouraging localities to implement approaches that work to prevent evictions.

At the White House-sponsored meeting, evictions expert Matthew Desmond was invited to present findings about effective eviction diversion programs. The most effective programs combine early intervention to solve problems before landlords file for eviction, access to legal counsel for every person facing eviction, and referrals to needed social services. In order to spur the use of more of the emergency funds, the Administration has announced that if localities with emergency rental assistance funding are unable to get the funds out by September 30, the Administration will redistribute the unspent rental aid to other communities.  

“It’s fundamentally the responsibility of state and local governments to get relief in the hands of renters and landlords,” Susan Rice, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, said at the meeting, according to the Post. 

If you are wondering what an eviction crisis in the U.S. might look like, Shelby County, Tennessee is a good place to start. Shelby County, one of Tennessee’s poorest counties, includes Memphis, and courts there are facing a backlog of 20,000 eviction cases. 

And evictions are happening, with reports that judges are processing cases at a rate of one case per minute. 

For months, renters in Shelby County faced protection from eviction, as do renters in most areas of the U.S. But back in March, the U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee ruled that the CDC had overstepped its authority in issuing the moratorium. The judge’s ruling only affects those living within the judicial district, but that is of little solace to Shelby County renters, located squarely in the Western District. 

Judge Phyllis B. Gardner, Administrative Judge of the Shelby County General Sessions Civil Court, told the Post that courts there are merely doing now what the rest of the country will be doing in the coming months. “It’s a national crisis for everybody,” she said. “We’re trying to emerge from it, but it is not that easy.” 

Charlie Fineberg, a local process server who has been working to evict families, said the tide of evictions has only begun. “It’s gonna get worse, more so than you ever thought about,” he told the Post. 

And it is not going to hit everyone equally. 

Graffiti supporting the rent strike appear on La Brea Avenue during the coronavirus pandemic on May 1, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Photo credit: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

brand new analysis released by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) warns that women of color will face eviction disproportionately when compared to men or to white men or white women. The reason for this is tied directly to the pandemic and ensuing recession – simply put, women of color have suffered most, from job loss to being able to put food on the table to falling behind in rent payments. 

The NWLC report found that nearly 4 million (14.6 percent of women who rent) reported being behind on their rent payment in May 2021. Among renters, nearly one in four non-Hispanic Black women (23. 1 percent), one in five non-Hispanic Asian women (20 percent) and more than one in six Latinas (17.6 percent) reported being behind on their rent. By comparison, only 9.1 percent of non-Hispanic white men and 9.0 percent of non-Hispanic white women were behind. 

Nearly 3.3 million women (7.8 percent of women with mortgages) reported being behind on their mortgage payment in May 2021. Among homeowners with mortgages, more than one in seven non-Hispanic Black women (15.2 percent) and more than one in nine Latinas (11.8 percent) and non-Hispanic Asian women (11.2 percent) reported being behind on mortgage payments. By comparison, about one in 19 non-Hispanic white men (5.2 percent) and a little over one in 17 non-Hispanic white women (6.0 percent) reported being behind on their mortgages. 

Although housing advocates welcomed the CDC moratorium, they say it was never going to be enough to address or prevent the eviction crisis. 

“While an eviction moratorium is an essential step, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off of when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed,” said NLIHC’s Yentel. She said the moratorium “delays but does not prevent evictions.” 

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New report: Good news for America’s kids – but with one major caveat  https://www.chn.org/voices/new-report-good-news-for-americas-kids-but-with-one-major-caveat/ Wed, 30 Jun 2021 17:34:41 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7297 The new Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Book is out and there is good news and bad news – and a strong recommendation that Congress make the Child Tax Credit expansion permanent. This year’s report found that between 2010 and 2019, children improved nationally in 11 out of 16 areas, essentially stayed the same in four areas, and fell further behind in one area – low birth weights. But the report comes with a major, fundamental caveat: the Foundation warns that nearly a decade of progress after the Great Recession could be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic unless policymakers act boldly to sustain the beginnings of a recovery.  

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The new Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Book is out and there is good news and bad news – and a strong recommendation that Congress make the Child Tax Credit expansion permanent. 

The 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book measures the well-being of children in 16 “indicators,” which one might think of as issue areas. This year, the data runs through 2019, the last year for which complete data is available, meaning the report does not fully document downturns experienced by children during the pandemic. However, the report includes helpful tables making use of more current Census Bureau surveys to show the harsh impact of the pandemic in March of this year. 

This year’s report found that between 2010 and 2019, children improved nationally in 11 out of 16 areas, essentially stayed the same in four areas, and fell further behind in one area – low birth weights. 

But the report comes with a major, fundamental caveat: the Foundation warns that nearly a decade of progress after the Great Recession could be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic unless policymakers act boldly to sustain the beginnings of a recovery.  

“The COVID-19 crisis has brought many families to the breaking point, especially parents and caregivers who have lost jobs and incomes,” said Lisa Hamilton, President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation in a news release. “Making the expanded child tax credit permanent will continue providing critical financial support for families who are struggling to make ends meet and help reduce long-standing disparities that affect millions of families of color.” 

The Foundation notes that the annual KIDS COUNT report contains data and rankings that represent the most comprehensive survey data available, but do not represent the impact of the past year. 

The report found that in 2019, the latest year for which the national estimate is available, 12 million kids (17 percent) lived in poverty. The pandemic brought on dire economic circumstances for millions of people, some of whom were already living in poverty and others who found themselves struggling in new ways. 

It found that 4.4 million children (6 percent) lacked health insurance in 2019. This was the first  increase in uninsured children in a decade, and that was before the pandemic hit. 

And on a happier note, the report found that in 2019, an all-time low one in seven high school students (14 percent) failed to graduate from high school on time, and the rate of children living in high-poverty areas fell for the fourth straight year, to 9 percent. Still more than one million teens were neither in school nor working (6 percent), in this pre-pandemic period. We know from other data that unemployment among 16-24 year-olds spiked to nearly one in three at the beginning of the pandemic (in April, 2020), but a year later, more than 10 percent of this age group, and nearly 17 percent of Black 16-24 year-olds, were still unemployed. 

To capture the pandemic’s toll, the Foundation also included in its report some data from the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, which offers snapshots of how America’s families and children fared during the pandemic. The report found that in 2020, more than one in eight adults with children in the household (13 percent) lacked health insurance. However, by March 2021, this figure had fallen to 11 percent, suggesting the beginnings of a recovery. And it found that during the pandemic in 2020, more than one in five households with children (22 percent) said they only had slight confidence or no confidence that they would be able to make their next rent or mortgage payment on time. However, by March 2021, this figure had fallen to 18 percent, also reflecting positive momentum. 

Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Minnesota placed first, second, and third in the annual KIDS COUNT rankings that are based on pre-pandemic data. Louisiana (48th), Mississippi (49th) and New Mexico (50th) were the three lowest-ranked states. While KIDS COUNT does not include Puerto Rico in the state rankings, they do include data that should not be ignored.  Compellingly, Puerto Rico’s child poverty rate in 2019 was 57 percent.  The highest child poverty rate among states was Mississippi, at 28 percent.   

States in Appalachia, as well as the Southeast and Southwest – where families have the lowest levels of household income – populate the bottom of the overall rankings. In fact, except for Alaska, the 17 lowest-ranked states are in these regions. 

In addition to recommending that Congress make the Child Tax Credit extension permanent, this year’s KIDS COUNT report contains these recommendations: 

“State and local governments should prioritize the recovery of hard-hit communities of color. 

“States should expand income support that helps families care for their children. Permanently extending unemployment insurance eligibility to contract, gig, and other workers and expanding state tax credits would benefit parents and children. 

“States that have not done so should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The American Rescue Plan offers incentives to do so. 

“Leaders should strengthen public schools and pathways to postsecondary education and training.” 

You can read the entire 50-page report hereincluding state fact sheets and comparison tables. 

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CHN’s Podcast Episode 2: A Critical Moment to Reduce Child Poverty. https://www.chn.org/voices/episode-2-voices-for-human-needs-podcast-reduce-child-poverty/ Wed, 30 Jun 2021 16:00:22 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7280 In our second episode of the Voices for Human Needs Podcast, hear from national policy advocates about what is at stake for children and families, the importance of making the Child Tax Credit expansion permanent, and actions you can take to join the fight to reduce child poverty across the country.

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EPISODE OVERVIEW

 

Featured Speakers Emma Mehrabi from the Children's Defense Fund and Bruce Lesley from First Focus on Children Headshot Images.

In our second episode of the Voices for Human Needs Podcast, we focus on how critical this moment in time is for children’s activists and the enduring fight to reduce child poverty in the United States. Listen below or at your favorite podcast platform to hear more about what is at stake for children and families, making the Child Tax Credit expansion permanent, and actions you can take in the fight to reduce child poverty. Our featured speakers include long-time policy advocates, Emma Mehrabi from the Children’s Defense Fund, and Bruce Lesley from First Focus on Children discuss the Child Tax Credit, 

Listeners will hear more about the current state of child poverty in the U.S., the impacts of changing policy for children and families who rely on certain benefits as we find our way out of the pandemic, and how the recently passed American Rescue Plan and proposed American Families and Jobs Plans are revolutionizing the policy landscape regarding investments in children. Additionally, Emma and Bruce provide suggestions for advocates and organizers of any age on how to take action in combating child poverty in their communities through advocacy and centering the voices of young people.

LISTEN ON SPOTIFY, APPLE PODCASTS, ANCHOR, AND MORE

Find our show wherever you get your podcasts and learn what you can do to advocate in your communities on behalf of making the Child Tax Credit permanent to reduce child poverty. The full transcript of this podcast episode is available here.

BRIDGING GAPS BETWEEN POLICY AND IMPLEMENTATION 

The recently passed American Rescue Plan and additional proposed economic recovery legislation are steps in the right direction to push forward many of the goals of long-time child policy advocates and organizers and to reduce child poverty. Perhaps most notably, beginning on July 15, 2021, most families with children will begin receiving monthly installments of the newly expanded Child Tax Credit. Families will receive $250 per month for each child age 6 through 17 and $300 per month for children younger than 6. Expanded policies including the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit have great potential to significantly impact children and youth who are most in need. Yet, to realize any real change and drastically cut poverty rates among the most vulnerable, broad public awareness campaigns and targeted implementation strategies are crucial. 

Emma Mehrabi, the current Director of Poverty Policy at the Children’s Defense Fund and a social worker by training, discussed the need to bridge policy and implementation through improved accessibility for families: “How do we not only better communicate what the policy means, what this program and this benefit mean for children and families but also, how do we get that benefit into the right hands? Community leaders and direct service providers are so often tasked with making sure that families actually get these benefits that they are entitled to– their lawful benefits– that would make a significant impact in their lives.”

A CRITICAL MOMENT TO INVEST IN CHILDREN

Both speakers discussed the shift they have noticed in 2021 under the Biden administration to truly make an impact on changing the infrastructure of support for children and families of extremely low incomes. 

“For years and years, we just have been working really around the margins. Yet now there is just a fundamental recognition in this country that we should value families and make investments in them” said Bruce Lesley, who has more than 30 years of public policy experience at all levels of government, and 13 years serving as the president of First Focus on Children. “If we can afford to spend $2 billion a day at the department of defense, we can absolutely make investments in our nation’s children…We shouldn’t just make investments in kids because of their future. We should also do it for their here and now.” 

With so much at stake as economic recovery legislation is proposed in response to the pandemic, Mehrabi emphasized the importance for advocates and organizers everywhere to push their policymakers to continue taking the necessary steps to address poverty and structural inequalities in the long-term: “This is the time now, it is time to go bold, be progressive, lead with values. It is not a time to shrink federal spending. It’s not a time to retreat from investing in communities and making real structural systemic changes, particularly for the policies and policies that disproportionately impact black, Latinx, and indigenous communities.” 

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE NOW

Spotify:

Apple Podcasts:

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Through the air and on the ground, the campaign for Child Tax Credit awareness takes off  https://www.chn.org/voices/through-the-air-and-on-the-ground-the-campaign-for-child-tax-credit-awareness-takes-off/ Fri, 25 Jun 2021 20:44:40 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7290 Earlier this week, social media activists, advocates for children and families with low incomes, religious leaders, local and state governments, elected officials and even a few famous celebrities joined the White House in a major, more-or-less coordinated push to publicize the Child Tax Credit (CTC). 

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Earlier this week, social media activists, advocates for children and families with low incomes, religious leaders, local and state governments, elected officials and even a few famous celebrities joined the White House in a major, more-or-less coordinated push to publicize the Child Tax Credit (CTC). 

By now, most of the readers of Voices for Human Needs perhaps know that beginning July 15, most families with children will begin receiving CTC payments, either through direct deposit or by mail. Families will receive $250 per month for each child age 6 through 17 and $300 per month for children younger than 6. 

The IRS estimates that roughly 39 million households with 65 million children – covering almost 90 percent of children in the U.S. — will begin receiving monthly payments on July 15 without any further action required. Other eligible families – those who did not file taxes in 2019 or 2020 and who did not sign up for any of the three rounds of “stimulus” payments, including the $1,400 provided in the American Rescue Plan – can still sign up to receive monthly Child Tax Credit payments (and they’ll get those stimulus payments they missed, too). 

But only if they know about it. And that’s what Monday’s CTC Awareness Day was all about. 

By almost any measure, the day was a success. The CTC Awareness Day received saturation coverage throughout the U.S., from smaller media outlets all the way to the New York Times. On Twitter, the hashtag #ChildTaxCredit was trending, so much so that at one point it ranked third in activity and outpaced Paris Hilton and #NationalSelfieDay. 

The Children’s Defense Fund and the Center for the Study of Social Policy took the lead in organizing a Twitterstorm during the afternoon. CHN joined with a large number of groups participating.  Groups who contributed content for the event included Center on Budget and Policy PrioritiesThe Center for Law and Social Policy,UnidosUSCommunity Legal ServicesEconomic Security ProjectGroundwork CollaborativeNo Kid HungryCoalition on Human NeedsChildren’s HealthWatchAmericans for Tax FairnessMomsRising, and RESULTS.  Many other groups chimed in. 

Scan the QR code with your phone camera to learn more.

And President Biden got into the act, tweeting, “Folks, this Child Tax Credit is a huge step towards a tax system that works for the middle class. It will lift millions of children out of poverty. This is just the first step. My American Families Plan will extend this benefit for years to come.” 

But the effort to publicize the upcoming CTC payments was not limited to social media. MomsRising announced an aggressive, unprecedented effort to get the word out. 

“This expanded tax credit is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get help to some of the moms, children, and families in our country who struggle the most and to boost our economy at the same time,” said MomsRising Executive Director and CEO Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. “The Biden-Harris Administration is doing its part by creating a simple portal through which families can apply. We intend to do our part as well, leaving no stone unturned in working to ensure every eligible family is able to access this tax credit, which can be the difference between going hungry and putting food on the table, living in a car or a home, and accessing quality child care or leaving the workforce.” 

And MomsRising was one of a number of groups that began rolling out stories of how its members would benefit from the CTC payments. The group’s press release listed three examples: 

“Mary Beth in North Carolina, who cares for four school-aged grandchildren. When the pandemic hit, she was laid off from her retail job and has struggled to make ends meet. She says the expanded Child Tax Credit will help her family cover the basics like fresh, nutritious food, medications, housing, and clothing for her growing grandchildren. 

“Rachel in Pennsylvania, who was devastated when COVID-19 forced her daughter’s preschool program to close permanently. Rachel was forced to take a pay cut due to the pandemic, making it difficult for her family to afford a new child care program. She says the Child Tax Credit will enable them to look for summer care for their daughter, so Rachel can focus on her work and her daughter can get ready for kindergarten.  

“Single mom Tami in Kansas, who was forced to take unpaid leave from her job in the kitchen of an assisted living center, because her twins’ school closed and because Tami had open-heart surgery recently and is high-risk for COVID-19. That caused a financial crisis for her family. The Child Tax Credit will help Tami pay her utilities bills and other necessities.” 

Grassroots organizers like MomsRising members already are on the ground, in some cases planning door-to-door outreach efforts, although many of these campaigns will not begin until late this summer. 

In Detroit, volunteers are now being trained to go block-by-block, door-to-door in key neighborhoods that have clusters of low-income families with children to teach people who aren’t typically required to file tax returns how to apply for the benefit. 

“We’re hoping to reach 2,000 families,” Jessica Brown, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Special Projects for the Community Development Advocates of Detroit, told the Detroit Free Press 

That type of outreach will be necessary – not just in Detroit but all over the U.S. — if the expanded CTC benefits are to meet their full potential. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated that the CTC expansions alone can reduce child poverty by more than 40 percent. Other experts say the expansions – coupled with other efforts such as SNAP and rental assistance – can push child poverty reduction to more than 50 percent. 

But word has to get out. Campaigning on the CTC’s behalf in Pittsburgh, PA this Monday, Vice President Harris emphasized this point. 

“When more families know about how they can get the relief, that is how we will be able to lift our children out of poverty,” she said. “That is how we will be able to lift up our nation’s middle class as well.” 

Spoiler alert: Next week, the new Voices for Human Needs Podcast will examine the fight against child poverty through policy choices, including tax credits. It will focus on how policy has addressed children historically, the impact of changing policy for children and families who rely on certain benefits as we find our way out of the pandemic, and how the recently passed American Rescue Plan and proposed American Families and Jobs Plans are revolutionizing the policy landscape regarding investments in children. Head to our Anchor site to see all the podcast distribution platforms we are on: Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, or Spotify. Or simply search for “Voices for Human Needs” wherever you get your podcast. 

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CHN: Bipartisan plan on infrastructure should advance – but so should once-in-a-generation investments  https://www.chn.org/voices/chn-bipartisan-plan-on-infrastructure-should-advance-but-so-should-once-in-a-generation-investments/ Fri, 25 Jun 2021 19:36:05 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7289 “President Biden did the nation a vital service in proposing his American Jobs and Families Plans. Taken together these two plans represent a comprehensive approach to setting our nation on a course of sustainable, shared economic progress.  A narrow approach that repairs and modernizes our physical infrastructure without strengthening our people’s health and economic security is not sufficient.  It will not provide the resources to enable parents to raise their children out of poverty, for young and older adults to be able to secure good jobs, and for retirees and people with disabilities to be able to live in their communities with the care they need. Nor will it sufficiently address pernicious inequities by race, immigrant status, and income. 

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Editor’s note: The following statement by Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs, was issued on Friday, June 25, 2021:

“President Biden did the nation a vital service in proposing his American Jobs and Families Plans. Taken together these two plans represent a comprehensive approach to setting our nation on a course of sustainable, shared economic progress.  A narrow approach that repairs and modernizes our physical infrastructure without strengthening our people’s health and economic security is not sufficient.  It will not provide the resources to enable parents to raise their children out of poverty, for young and older adults to be able to secure good jobs, and for retirees and people with disabilities to be able to live in their communities with the care they need. Nor will it sufficiently address pernicious inequities by race, immigrant status, and income. 

“The bipartisan framework for physical infrastructure investments has much in it that will serve the country well.  Replacing lead water service lines is a long-overdue public health necessity and will disproportionately help low-income communities.  We have experienced too many painful reminders that our electric grid and internet capacity are inadequate and vulnerable – failing to expand and modernize them continues to be a dereliction of public responsibility.  Allowing our transportation grid to crumble is similarly reckless.  The bipartisan agreement will take important steps forward in these areas.  We note that it glaringly omits investments in affordable housing.  The pandemic exposed and worsened our failure to maintain and expand the supply of affordable housing as well as the inadequacy of rental assistance, but this is left out of the bipartisan framework. 

“We strongly agree with the President when he insists that the good provisions in the bipartisan framework must be accompanied by legislation to support our human infrastructure.  People cannot work if they are ill or locked down over the threat of illness.  Parents cannot work if there is no child care, and family members cannot work if they have no help in caring for aging parents or relatives with disabilities.  Children and youth cannot thrive without an adequate education.  And no one can be a full participant in our communities and our economy if their income is too meager to cover food and housing. 

“Members and allies of the Coalition on Human Needs have strongly supported building on the comprehensive approach of the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.  In recent weeks we have sent nearly 80,000 letters to Congress calling for a package that will permanently reduce child poverty. We would expand on health care provisions to eliminate the “Medicaid gap” (people now ineligible for Medicaid but unable to afford any other insurance in states refusing to expand their Medicaid programs). We would make permanent the extremely important expansion of the Child Tax Credit.  We support a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, including those in DACA and Temporary Protected Status programs and essential workers such as farmworkers.  We need federal unemployment insurance reforms and substantial rental assistance. The base provisions in the Biden plans plus recommended expansions are all inter-related.  They will improve on the decades-long inadequate approach that enriches business interests without creating the kind of prosperity that reaches all of us. 

“We can afford to make these essential investments.  Wealthy individuals and corporations are not paying their fair share.  Recent reports of multi-billionaires paying little or nothing in taxes attest to that. We welcome the bipartisan agreement that the IRS should have the funding it needs to enforce the tax code.  But undoing trillions of dollars in Trump and other tax breaks, as proposed by President Biden, is the minimum that justice and responsible investment requires.  We also support the savings that would occur from allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and from reducing excessive Pentagon spending.  The bipartisan framework would actually take us steps backwards by supporting “public-private partnership” schemes likely to enrich private investors while individuals pay higher tolls or parking fees. 

“The Coalition on Human Needs wants to see the bipartisan framework’s infrastructure provisions go forward, in tandem with companion comprehensive legislation to make the once-in-a-generation investments our nation badly needs.”  

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship June 25, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-june-25/ Fri, 25 Jun 2021 17:45:51 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7283 The Tale of Two Americas edition. Between 2018 and 2020, COVID-19 forced an unprecedented drop in life expectancy in the U.S. For non-Hispanic whites, the drop was 1.36 years. For Hispanics, it was 3.88 years; the decline was 3.25 years for non-Hispanic Blacks. Still, although the pace of vaccinations for Blacks and Hispanics is improving, in the 40 states keeping records by race, only 33 percent of Blacks and 38 percent of Hispanics have at least one dose, compared to 46 percent of whites.   

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COVID-19 HardshipJune 25, 2021 

The Tale of Two Americas edition. Between 2018 and 2020, COVID-19 forced an unprecedented drop in life expectancy in the U.S. For non-Hispanic whites, the drop was 1.36 years. For Hispanics, it was 3.88 years; the decline was 3.25 years for non-Hispanic Blacks. Still, although the pace of vaccinations for Blacks and Hispanics is improving, in the 40 states keeping records by race, only 33 percent of Blacks and 38 percent of Hispanics have at least one dose, compared to 46 percent of whites.   

In Vermont, 75 percent of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated. That’s roughly double the 38 percent of Mississippians who have received both shots. In Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Wyoming, fewer than half of residents are fully vaccinated. And the more infectious and dangerous delta variant of COVID-19 is on the rise – 20 percent of new cases in the U.S. are of the delta variety, double over the past two weeks. This is one tale of two Americas – mostly vaccinated states have at least some protection from community transmission because there are fewer places for the virus to spread. But in under-vaccinated states, mostly in the South but also in some Midwestern states, cases are climbing. In Missouri, hospitalizations are up 160 percent over the past month – and in some parts of the Show-Me State, only one in four of adults are fully vaccinated. 

“There are two Americas, as they say. If you’re in vaccinated America, things are really, really good for you right now,” said Neil J. Sehgal, an assistant professor of health policy at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health. “If you’re in unvaccinated America, well, there’s still a risk for you — and it’s not small.” 

Of course, there is another tale of two Americas. It is a tale that existed long before the pandemic, a tale whose narrative was even more clearly delineated during the pandemic’s height. This is a tale of hardship, racial inequality, and longstanding barriers that hinder opportunity and steal years of life from the most vulnerable Americans – people of color, women, and those with the lowest incomes. 

It is more clear than ever that if we want to write a new tale, we must start with and build upon the American Families and Jobs Plans. These comprehensive plans will redress inequities that have contributed to more deaths and fewer vaccinations by race and region. If we want to “build back better” we need more than just roads and bridges – we need a strong foundation of economic, health, and family security for all of us. 

One Nation. Not two Americas. 

If you agree, please tell your Senators and Representative to act. Now. 

 

3.88; 3.25; 1.36 yrs 

The decline in years of life expectancy from 2018-2020 among Hispanics, Blacks and whites in the U.S. because of COVID-19. Tweet this.

 

150 million 

The estimated number of Americans who are fully vaccinated as of this week. Although that is much greater than the number of people who get a flu shot in any given year, experts still say it is far short of what is needed to achieve herd immunity. Tweet this.

 

33; 38; 46% 

Percentages of Blacks, Hispanics, and whites with at least one COVID vaccine dose, as of June 21. Tweet this.

 

About 2/3 

About two-thirds of service-sector workers said they could not take leave or took less leave than they wanted to, when they experienced a major life event, according to a new study. Of this group, 71 percent said the reason was they couldn’t afford to. Latinx workers (53%) and Black workers (49%) were the most likely to say they felt pressure to avoid taking time off or feared job loss compared with white workers (39%). Tweet this.

 

22,600 

An Associated Press analysis of 34 states found that in the early months of the pandemic, COVID-19 shut down foster care transactions. Between March and December 2020, at least 22,600 fewer children left foster care compared with the same time period the year before. Family unifications were down 16 percent and adoptions declined 23 percent. Tweet this.

 

Almost 25% higher 

A new analysis of deaths in the U.S. found that Black people were killed in car crashes at a rate almost 25 percent higher than white people in recent years, a disparity that appears to have grown worse during the pandemic. Experts think there are two reasons behind the disparity: more dangerous roads are found in communities of color and people of color were more likely to be employed in “essential” jobs during the pandemic, with no option to stay home.

 

$5.2 billion 

California lawmakers are putting the final touches on a legislative package the nation has never seen before: $5.2 billion to cover 100 percent of the unpaid rent that lower-income Californians incurred during the pandemic. The state is also considering setting aside $2 billion to pay for outstanding water and electricity bills.

 

26% 

In Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8, which is majority-Black, just 26 percent of residents ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated. The rate is double that in wealthier, whiter Wards 2 and 3. Just 5 percent of ages 12 to 15 in Ward 8 have received at least one vaccination, compared to 67 percent in Ward 2.

 

About 20 million 

Some 20 million people – about 10 percent of all adults – said their household did not have enough to eat in the past seven days, according to the latest U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey data, collected May 26 to June 7. This was true for 15 percent of Black adults, 17 percent of Latinx, 7 percent of whites, and 6.5 percent of Asians.

 

7.1 million 

7.1 million adults – 14 percent of adult renters – reported not being caught up in rent. This was true for 23 percent of Black renters, 15 percent of Latinx renters, 15 percent of Asian renters, and 9.5 percent of white renters.

 

 

 

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Monday, June 21 is Child Tax Credit Awareness Day  https://www.chn.org/voices/monday-june-21-is-child-tax-credit-awareness-day/ Fri, 18 Jun 2021 15:03:25 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7273 Beginning July 15, most families with children will begin receiving monthly installments of the newly expanded Child Tax Credit. Families will receive $250 per month for each child age 6 through 17 and $300 per month for children younger than 6. In order to publicize the expansion – and ensure that hard-to-reach families who did not previously file tax forms receive it – the Biden Administration has designated this coming Monday, June 21 - as Child Tax Credit Awareness Day. 

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Beginning July 15, most families with children will begin receiving monthly installments of the newly expanded Child Tax Credit. Families will receive $250 per month for each child age 6 through 17 and $300 per month for children younger than 6. In order to publicize the expansion – and ensure that hard-to-reach families who did not previously file tax forms receive it – the Biden Administration has designated this coming Monday, June 21 – as Child Tax Credit Awareness Day.

 “Critically, as part of Child Tax Credit Awareness Day, the Administration will encourage elected officials, organizations that fight for children, and faith-based organizations, to help low-income families—who may have such low-incomes that they are not required to file taxes—to use a new, easy Child Tax Credit sign-up tool to help give their children a lifeline out of poverty,” a White House fact sheet states. 

The IRS estimates that roughly 39 million households with 65 million children – covering almost 90 percent of children in the U.S. — will begin receiving monthly payments on July 15 without any further action required. About 80 percent of these families will receive the payments via direct deposit; the rest will receive checks via regular mail. Other eligible families – those who did not  file taxes in 2019 or 2020 and who did not sign up for any of the three rounds of “stimulus” payments,  including the $1,400 provided in the American Rescue Plan – can still sign up to receive monthly Child Tax Credit payments. People with incomes below a certain amount do not have to file a tax form, so they are not in the IRS system. Experts say that if most of these harder-to-reach families sign up, as many as half of all children currently in poverty could be lifted out. But reaching these families is key. 

If you know of such a family, you should encourage them to sign up by accessing this easy-to-use IRS portal. One of the ways groups are spreading the word is through a #ChildTaxCredit Twitterstorm to be held on Monday at 2:00 p.m. ET. You can find a toolkit for participating here, compiled by the Children’s Defense Fund and the Center for the Study of Social Policy. The Coalition on Human Needs is one of many organizations contributing to the Twitterstorm.  

The American Rescue Plan, approved earlier this year by Congress and signed into law by President Biden, included a one-year expansion of the Child Tax Credit. In 2021, for most families, the Child Tax Credit is increased to $3,000 for each child age 6 through 17 and to $3,600 for each child under age 6. For example, a married couple making less than $150,000 with two children under age 6 will be eligible for a Child Tax Credit of $7,200 in 2021 – at least $3,200 more than they would have received prior to the American Rescue Plan. President Biden has proposed extending this expanded Child Tax Credit through 2025 as part of his American Families Plan. 

Tax relief is typically available only when people file their taxes, but July marks the first time ever that Child Tax Credit payments will be provided monthly. Unlike in previous years, the Child Tax Credit will be available to families with little or no earnings. “This will ensure for the first time that even the most hard-pressed families will get at least as much support as more affluent families,” the White House fact sheet states. Half of the total amount will be received through the monthly payments; families will receive the rest when they file tax forms starting in January 2022. 

If a family files too late to receive the first installment in July, they will still receive the full amount owed them, spread over the remaining months through the end of December. So ongoing outreach efforts will be very important.   

The poorest families, who need the Child Tax Credit the most, may not know they are eligible, or how to go online to receive this help. They’ll need to receive information from Head Start programs and schools, libraries, medical offices, diaper banks or food pantries, WIC programs, community action agencies or other locations they’re likely to frequent. 

If you want to learn more about the Child Tax Credit, including examples of how families in different circumstances can benefit, click here. And for even more information, including a social media toolkit and suggested activities, check out this resource kit prepared by the National Association of Counties. 

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In storm’s path: FEMA fielding criticism for racial inequality in disaster aid  https://www.chn.org/voices/in-storms-path-fema-fielding-criticism-for-racial-inequality-in-disaster-aid/ Thu, 17 Jun 2021 19:54:34 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7267 As climate change advances, the U.S. is experiencing more drought, more wildfires, more floods. And now it is hurricane season – one year after we witnessed a total of 30 named storms, a record. But the federal agency charged with providing emergency aid and rebuilding assistance to Americans with damaged homes is facing a storm of its own. In recent months, a number of studies have confirmed what housing advocates have known all along: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) distributes more aid – a lot more, in some cases – to white homeowners than it does to Black homeowners.

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As climate change advances, the U.S. is experiencing more drought, more wildfires, more floods. And now it is hurricane season – one year after we witnessed a total of 30 named storms, a record. 

But the federal agency charged with providing emergency aid and rebuilding assistance to Americans with damaged homes is facing a storm of its own. In recent months, a number of studies have confirmed what housing advocates have known all along: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) distributes more aid – a lot more, in some cases – to white homeowners than it does to Black homeowners. And much more aid goes to affluent neighborhoods than poor ones – even though an argument can plainly be made that poor neighborhoods need it more. 

Last week, the New York Times published an investigative piece that summed up many of the studies. 

The Times told the stories of Roy Vaussine and Charlotte Biagas, who live in modest, single-story homes about a dozen miles apart in southwest Louisiana. When Hurricane Laura made landfall last August, the damage to their homes was nearly identical. A tree crashed through the roof of each house. Neither homeowner had insurance that covered the damage, and each sought assistance from FEMA. 

FEMA initially gave Vaussine $17,000 in aid; Biagas received $7,000. Vaussine is white. Biagas is Black. 

Roy Vaussine of Sulphur, La. (right), and Charlotte Biagas and her husband, Norman, of Lake Charles, La. Photo Credit: Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

“A growing body of research shows that FEMA, the government agency responsible for helping Americans recover from disasters, often helps white disaster victims more than people of color, even when the amount of damage is the same,” the Times wrote. “Not only do individual white Americans often receive more aid from FEMA; so do the communities in which they live, according to several recent studies based on federal data.” When property values are higher, FEMA’s payments for damages are higher, making it far more difficult for residents of low-income communities to rebuild. The dividing line of income across communities is also very often a dividing line by race or ethnicity. 

This report brought to mind the experience of Puerto Rico after hurricanes, in which homeowners got little or no relief because of low property values and informal proof of ownership common there, and few long-term community rebuilding projects were approved compared to disaster-struck communities on the mainland. 

According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, after Hurricane Harvey, white residents of higher-income Houston neighborhoods received an average of $60,000 in FEMA assistance, while Black residents in low-income neighborhoods received just $84. 

Crishelle Palay, Executive Director of the Houston Organizing Movement for Equity (HOME) Coalition, recently penned an op-ed for the Houston Chronicle in which she discussed FEMA’s response to the ice storm that crippled Texas this past February. In her piece, she noted long-time policies that actually widened the income gap between whites and Blacks. 

Palay wrote that since 2015, Houston has experienced eight federally declared major disasters. When this year’s winter storms hit, many Houstonians, and especially those who live in low-income communities of color, were still awaiting repairs from 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. 

“For low-income Black and Latino communities, even a medium-sized storm can spell disaster on top of the ongoing burden of structural racial inequality,” Palay wrote. “A study by Rice University and University of Pittsburgh found that between 1999 and 2013, natural disasters increased Houston’s racial wealth gap by $87,000.” 

Palay adds that the nation’s disaster recovery system actually reinforces housing segregation. “The formulas the federal government relies on for allocating funding for infrastructure repairs preferences projects in high-income areas with high housing values,” she writes. “The lack of investment leaves residents in low-income neighborhoods more vulnerable in future storms, while also driving down home values.” 

Advocates such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition have been tracking this issue for years, particularly as it affects low-income renters. Low-income renters are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters as the price of housing tends to rise after a disaster occurs, in part because of a decrease in available housing stock and in part because landlords need or want to recoup repair costs through higher rents. 

Dan Threet, NLIHC Research Analyst, blogged on this subject several years ago, after consecutive hurricanes swept through Louisiana, decimating particularly low-income neighborhoods. He advocates adopting disaster housing recovery policies that devote greater resources to those with greater needs. 

“For example, in the wake of a disaster, FEMA can and should enter into an interagency agreement with HUD to activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) to provide direct, longer-term rental assistance to affected households,” Threet wrote. “Low-income renters are not well positioned to pay higher rents for scarce available rental homes, and they need assistance for longer periods of time than FEMA’s temporary housing programs provide. In addition to DHAP, the disaster housing recovery process generally needs to be rethought from the ground up, to prioritize the needs of the least well-off.” 

The Times reports that leaders at FEMA are trying to get a handle on the causes of racial disparities and what can be done about them. “The problem seems to stem from complex systemic factors, like a real estate market that often places higher values on properties in communities with many white residents, or the difficulty of navigating the federal bureaucracy, which tends to favor people and communities that have more resources from the beginning,” the newspaper writes. 

And the pressure is growing. 

During her Senate confirmation, the first question faced by Deanne Criswell, President Biden’s choice to run FEMA, was how she would ensure communities of color get equal access to disaster aid. 

“It is unacceptable that minority communities not only feel the impact of natural disasters far more severely than others, but they also often have more difficulty obtaining assistance from the federal government,” Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement. 

Palay, the Executive Director of Houston’s HOME Coalition, says she would start by requiring FEMA to prioritize low-income communities for access to its recovery programs. 

“Houstonians at all income levels know how complicated and frustrating it can be to navigate multiple federal programs from agencies like FEMA, but the barriers are even more daunting for lower-income survivors,” Palay writes. “Already, the communities we work with in the HOME Coalition are reporting that they are being summarily denied by FEMA. Without access to the internet, even applying to the program is difficult, especially for people who do not speak English. These barriers to entry on the front end will extend the pain of this recovery if they are not addressed.” 

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship June 11, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-june-11/ Fri, 11 Jun 2021 17:46:47 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7254 The Build Back Better edition. COVID-19 cases are down and more people are working. But all is not well in America. Staggering numbers remain out of work and now there is emerging evidence, that as Black and brown communities lag behind in vaccinations, COVID-19 could become a disease that overwhelmingly impacts communities of color. Vaccinations – which reached a peak of nearly two million per day in April – have slipped under 400,000 a day, endangering President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of the country vaccinated by the 4th of July. Fewer than one in four Black Americans have received their first shot. 

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COVID-19 HardshipJune 11, 2021

The Build Back Better edition. COVID-19 cases are down and more people are working. But all is not well in America. Staggering numbers remain out of work and now there is emerging evidence, that as Black and brown communities lag behind in vaccinations, COVID-19 could become a disease that overwhelmingly impacts communities of color. Vaccinations – which reached a peak of nearly two million per day in April – have slipped under 400,000 a day, endangering President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of the country vaccinated by the 4th of July. Fewer than one in four Black Americans have received their first shot. 

When we say we want to “build back better,” we do not mean that we want to “build back the way we were.” We don’t want to press a magical reset button that takes us back to the pre-pandemic days of late 2019. We aspire to be better and stronger and more united than we have ever been before in the history of the United States. 

President Biden recognizes that for years we have neglected to improve the basic building blocks of our economic security – and many of the building blocks that were in place crumbled during the pandemic due to their inadequacy. These can be thought of as physical infrastructure, yes – roads, bridges, transit, housing, water and sewer lines, and utilities, including broadband. But they can also be thought of as human infrastructure. That means access to health care for all Americans, and good education, from preschool through college. It means aggressive intervention to make child care affordable, and ensure adequate pay for our home care workers. It means using government as a powerful force to fight discrimination regardless of race, gender, religion, immigrant status, or disability. It means protecting our workers by vesting in them the power and ability to help determine their wage levels and working conditions. 

All of this is what it means to build back better. It will cost, yes, but if the rich and corporations finally pay their fair share, we can readily afford it. If you agree, please tell your Senators and Representative that we need to build back better and we need to do it now. Click here 

 

11,882/387 

The number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths reported on June 10. That’s down 42 percent and 22 percent from 14 days previously.

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8 of 10 

Eight of the ten states with the lowest vaccination rates are in the South. Experts attribute this to a combination of factors: hesitancy among conservative whites, concerns among some Blacks, and longtime challenges when it comes to health care access, transportation, and fear of having to take off from work.

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Less than 1/4th 

As of June 7, less than one-quarter of Black Americans had received a first COVID-19 shot, according to available federal data. This comes even as evidence is surfacing that in recent months, the proportion of people contracting COVID-19 or dying from it increasingly is Black.

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46%/80% 

Despite accounting for 46 percent of the local population, Black residents in Washington, D.C. now make up more than 80 percent of the District’s COVID-19 cases. And the disparity in deaths is huge – of the 68 District residents who died from COVID-19 in April and May, 88 percent were Black, 6 percent were Latinx, and 6 percent were white.

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25 

The number of states that are opting out of providing additional UI benefits, with four states beginning this Saturday (AK, IA, MS, and MO) and the rest ending aid through July. This will harm more than 3.9 million people.

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-42%/-43%/-20% 

After a total of $2,000 in stimulus checks per individual were distributed primarily in January and again in April, U. of Michigan researchers showed that household food shortages declined 42 percent from January through April. A broader gauge of financial instability fell 43 percent. And among all households, frequent anxiety and depression fell by more than 20 percent.

 

2.2 million 

The number of people who continue to be denied health insurance because 13 states have refused to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion. Nearly all of these states are in the South and Black and Latinx people are disproportionately represented among the 2.2 million.

 

$600b and growing

 

The estimated amount of unpaid taxes in the U.S. each year. That’s roughly equal to two-thirds of what the federal government spends on nondefense discretionary programs – meaning we could go a long way toward paying for President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan if we reined in tax cheats.

 

$11.65

 

The national median hourly wage for child care workers. About half of child care programs do not offer health insurance. Yet unlike restaurants and other business, child care centers are largely unable to simply raise wages to attract workers because under the current system, many parents would be unable to pay the added cost.

 

28%

 

The percent of Americans who say they have worried about not having a place to live, according to a recent CBS News poll. This is true of 50 percent of Americans with household incomes under $25,000 (and 22 percent with incomes this low have actually lost their homes). 43 percent of Blacks and 39 percent of Latinx have worried about losing their homes, compared to 24 percent of whites.

 

 

 

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2021 sets new mark for voter suppression laws; Texas threat still looming  https://www.chn.org/voices/2021-sets-new-mark-for-voter-suppression-laws-texas-threat-still-looming/ Thu, 10 Jun 2021 20:25:18 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7250 Calendar year 2021 is not even half over – yet we already know that it will set a modern-day record for the number of voter suppression laws passed by state legislatures and enacted into law in one year. Between January 1 and May 14 of this year, 14 states enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to the vote. That breaks a record set in 2011, when – by October of that year – 19 restrictive laws were passed in 14 states. 

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Calendar year 2021 is not even half over – yet we already know that it will set a modern-day record for the number of voter suppression laws passed by state legislatures and enacted into law in one year. 

Between January 1 and May 14 of this year, 14 states enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to the vote. That breaks a record set in 2011, when – by October of that year – 19 restrictive laws were passed in 14 states. 

“The restrictive laws from 2011 were enacted after the 2010 elections brought a significant shift in political control over statehouses — and as the country confronted backlash to the election of its first Black president,” writes the Brennan Center for Justice in a May 28 update. “Today’s attacks on the vote come from similar sources: the racist voter fraud allegations behind the Big Lie and a desire to prevent future elections from achieving the historic turnout seen in 2020.” 

Between January 1 and May 14 of this year, 14 states enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to the vote

In April and May, Voices for Human Needs focused on voter suppression bills in Georgia and Florida – you can read those posts here and here. Today, we will examine perhaps the most onerous bill of all – Senate Bill 7, which failed to pass the Texas Legislature after a coalition of mostly Latinx and Black lawmakers walked off the House floor, denying the body a quorum and effectively shutting down legislative activity until the Legislature’s clock expired. Although lawmakers are now in recess, Governor Greg Abbott has pledged to call them back in special session later this year – perhaps as early as August. Democrats then will have little power to stop the GOP-dominated Legislature from passing voter suppression legislation. 

Why is Senate Bill 7 so onerous? Because it plainly seeks to make it more difficult for minority voters to cast ballots – particularly in Harris County, which includes Houston, where many of the state’s Democrats reside. 

Senate Bill 7 would ban two types of voting used by election administrators in Harris County in the 2020 election – drive-up voting and 24-hour voting. According to a Washington Post analysis, 130,000 voters in Harris County took advantage of drive-through voting and an additional 10,000 voters cast ballots during a 24-hour voting marathon the county offered in the final week before Election Day. 

The Post reported that voters of color made up more than 50 percent of those who took advantage of drive-through voting and the 24-hour voting window. That was a higher percentage than minority participation in early voting overall in Harris County, when Black and Latinx voters accounted for just 38 percent of all voters. Senate Bill 7 also would ban early voting before 1 p.m. on Sundays – a move clearly aimed at stopping efforts by Black churches to encourage congregants to cast ballots right after services – a get-out-the-vote tactic often referred to as “souls to the polls.” 

“Why in the world would you pick Sunday morning to outlaw voting in Texas, but for the fact that they know that a lot of Black parishioners historically have chosen that time to organize and go to the polls?” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) told the Post. 

The Texas measure, like the new laws in Georgia and Florida, would make it more difficult to vote by mail, and would give new access to partisan poll watchers. Further, it would impose stiff new civil and criminal penalties on election administrators, voters, and those who seek to assist them. 

And the Texas legislation sought to restrict community voter mobilization programs. It would require that anyone who drives more than two non-relatives to the polls who require assistance to submit a signed form stating the reason for the assistance. That means volunteer van drivers who provide transportation for churchgoing voters would have had to jump through the added hoop of submitting a signed document. 

Voter rights advocates have singled out the new laws in Georgia and Florida, as well as the Texas proposal, as versions of “Jim Crow 2.0” — aimed squarely at racial minorities. 

Cliff Albright, a co-founder of the group Black Voters Matter, told the Post that the comparison to Jim Crow is even more apt in the case of Senate Bill 7 because the language Republican lawmakers have used to justify it is eerily similar to how Southern racists blocked Black citizens from voting for decades: 

“Then, as now, those in power denied racist intent, he noted. Then, as now, they claimed they wanted to protect the “integrity” of elections. Then, as now, they imposed restrictions that they claimed would apply to all voters but that in practice applied overwhelmingly to people of color.” 

The Brennan Center reports that with close to one-third of legislatures still in session, additional restrictive measures are likely to pass, increasing the degree to which 2021 will set new, modern-day records when it comes to voter suppression. 

But the news is not all bad. First off, legal challenges already have been filed in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa and Montana – and if anything resembling Senate Bill 7 eventually passes in Texas, it certainly will be subject to litigation as well.  How successful legal challenges will be is not yet clear. 

And second, the Brennan Center notes, many states are passing more expansive laws that make it easier to vote. The Center has tracked 28 such bills that have been signed into law in 14 states. 

Just this week, Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, signed into law a measure that will require the mailing of ballots to every registered voter in the state, whether they request a ballot or not. In signing the law, which easily passed the General Assembly on a bipartisan 119-30 vote, Scott said he did so “because I believe making sure voting is easy and accessible, and increasing voter participation, is important.” 

The action by Scott and Vermont Republicans – as well as bipartisan efforts to ease access to voting in states such as Kentucky – prove that improving our democracy need not be a partisan issue. People acting in good faith just need to stand up and be counted, Republican or Democrat or any other party. In fact, that would be a very good standard to hold the U.S. Congress to, since they have the power to adopt legislation to prevent some states from adopting harsh voter suppression laws while others take Vermont’s path. That would require a bipartisan 60 votes in the U.S. Senate, and there is no hint of that much bipartisanship in the Senate right now. 

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The Biden Budget: Responsible investments in our future  https://www.chn.org/voices/the-biden-budget-responsible-investments-in-our-future/ Mon, 07 Jun 2021 21:29:26 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7243 President Biden’s budget is responsive to our needs and responsible to our future.  Instead of ignoring government’s failure for years to maintain and improve the basic building blocks of our economic security, the budget makes investments our nation badly needs.

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Editor’s note: The following statement  was issued Monday, June 7 by Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs, in response to President Biden’s budget proposal. For a detailed description of the Biden Administration’s FY 2022 budget’s investments, see this special edition of the Coalition on Human Needs’ Human Needs Report.                   

“President Biden’s budget is responsive to our needs and responsible to our future.  Instead of ignoring government’s failure for years to maintain and improve the basic building blocks of our economic security, the budget makes investments our nation badly needs. 

“Those building blocks include physical infrastructure:  roads, bridges, transit, housing, water and sewer lines, and utilities, including broadband.  And at least as important, the Biden budget recognizes that we must also invest in our human infrastructure.  We cannot sustain economic growth if all Americans do not have access to a good education, from preschool through college.  As we have painfully learned through the pandemic, we place ourselves at life-threatening and economic risk if we do not invest in public health protections and vastly improved access to health care.  We need care workers for our children and for those aging or with disabilities if we are to help workers to stay in the labor force.  We need all of our workers to have the opportunity to make their best contributions, so must ensure they are protected from discrimination, whether by race, gender, religion, immigrant status, or disability.  We must also protect our people, and especially our children, from poverty and hunger. 

“The Biden budget invests in all these ways.  It incorporates the Administration’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, which will create millions of good jobs, rebuilding and modernizing our infrastructure, providing essential care, and protecting our environment.  These plans rebuild our economic security, making important strides forward by extending the expansion of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, building more affordable housing, expanding access to health coverage, maintaining child nutrition improvements, and making preschool and community college free and child care more affordable.  The American Jobs Plan invests $81 billion over 10 years in job training, apprenticeships, and subsidized jobs, specially targeting people with the lowest incomes, young adults, justice-involved people, and dislocated workers.  It invests $400 billion over a decade in home care for the aging and for people with disabilities, increasing pay as well as adding desperately needed new positions.  The American Families Plan will ensure that families with low and moderate incomes do not pay more than 7 percent of their income on child care.  The expanded Child Tax Credit, judged instrumental in cutting child poverty in half starting in July, will be extended to 2025.  We hope Congress will make this vital assistance permanent, as the Biden budget proposes for the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without dependent children. 

“The Biden budget combines long-term investments with substantial new initiatives in next year’s appropriations.  For example, increased funding will allow 200,000 additional rental housing vouchers in FY22.  Funding for K-12 education in low-income communities more than doubles, with $20 billion in new Equity Grants, to come close to wiping out the funding gap between majority white and majority non-white schools.  Substance use disorder and mental health treatment are significantly increased.  Domestic and non-military international appropriations would grow by 16.5 percent in FY22 in the President’s budget.  This is the first year that appropriations caps have expired, and the Biden Administration is intent on making up some of the erosion that has occurred over the past decade. 

“Congress can build on the ground-breaking Biden budget by writing into law the expansion of Medicaid that would cover 2.2 million people left uninsured because their states refuse to adopt Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  It could also enact unemployment insurance reforms, to prevent states from paying rock-bottom benefits, and could add housing vouchers to the American Jobs or Families Plans, so they are not solely dependent on annual appropriations. 

“Just as a responsible homeowner repairs a roof before leaks lead to serious damage, the Biden budget takes responsible steps to prevent children from falling irretrievably behind in their education, and to provide child care so parents can return to work before they lose too much ground in the labor force.  The budget would prevent more widespread crumbling of our infrastructure, and will reduce the threat of evictions, hunger, and illness.  Keeping families from experiencing these harms can prevent long-term damage that family members may not be able to overcome.   

“The budget takes many steps to ‘build back better,’ and one of the ways it does this responsibly is by requiring profitable corporations and wealthy individuals to pay their fair share of taxes.  Now they do not.  55 Fortune 500 corporations paid no taxes last year despite making over $40 billion in profits. Recent estimates show the average tax rate for corporations as only 7.8 percent within two years of enactment of tax cuts in 2017; lower than the rate paid by people with low incomes. By taking reasonable steps towards more equitable tax policy, the Biden Administration estimates that over the next decade, revenues will rise to 19.9 percent of GDP, from its current 16.3 percent.  Revenues from fair sources should rise, so we can make the investments we need for shared and sustained prosperity. Outlays as a share of the economy decline, from just under 33 percent in FY21 to nearly 25 percent in FY31, as estimated in the budget.  Our economy can and must make the investments in all the building blocks of our future.  We can readily afford it.  In fact, failure to make the needed investments would be a reckless disregard for what our people and our economy need.” 

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CHN’s latest Human Needs Report: Special edition examines Biden Administration’s proposed budget https://www.chn.org/voices/chns-latest-human-needs-report-special-edition-examines-biden-administrations-proposed-budget/ Mon, 07 Jun 2021 17:46:36 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7242 CHN just released a special edition of the Human Needs Report focusing on President Biden's FY22 budget request. Read on for an overview of the request and details from select government departments that most directly impact people with low incomes.

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CHN just released a special edition of the Human Needs Report focusing on President Biden’s FY22 budget request. Read on for an overview of the request and details from select government departments that most directly impact people with low incomes. You can view a PDF of the report here.

In This Special Edition

The Biden Administration released its detailed Fiscal Year 2022 budget request on May 28. The budget is the first in a decade that is not limited by the low spending caps for annual appropriations required by the Budget Control Act. Advocates praised the proposed higher funding levels for human needs programs, but getting spending bills through Congress may be tricky. READ MORE »

CHN has compiled many of the funding increases and policy changes in the Biden Administration’s FY22 budget request that most directly impact people with low incomes, including those from the the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor, as well as other areas of note. READ MORE »

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Emerging from the pandemic: How we place America’s children and families on a path to prosperity  https://www.chn.org/voices/emerging-from-the-pandemic-how-we-place-americas-children-and-families-on-a-path-to-prosperity/ Fri, 04 Jun 2021 13:00:11 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7193 Emerging from the pandemic will neither be easy for America nor for America’s children. Many have experienced hunger and live in households anxious over possible eviction. Many have not been able to learn effectively without adequate access to the internet. Children of color and children in families with low incomes have been disproportionately harmed, sometimes by the deaths of loved ones from COVID-19. But the groundbreaking proposals put forth by the Biden Administration give us hope that America’s children and families will have the resources and programs they need to place them on a path toward recovery and prosperity.  

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Editor’s note: This is the final in a series of blog posts examining how the pandemic has affected children, youth, and young adults in the U.S.  

Emerging from the pandemic will neither be easy for America nor for America’s children. Many have experienced hunger and live in households anxious over possible eviction. Many have not been able to learn effectively without adequate access to the internet. Children of color and children in families with low incomes have been disproportionately harmed, sometimes by the deaths of loved ones from COVID-19. But the groundbreaking proposals put forth by the Biden Administration give us hope that America’s children and families will have the resources and programs they need to place them on a path toward recovery and prosperity.  

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan provide comprehensive help for children, youth, and young adults. They first of all recognize that children live in families, and cannot thrive without improving the economic security of those families, in large part through expanded job opportunities, supplements to income, affordable food, health care and housing, and access to supports that make work possible, such as child care and paid leave. 

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan provide comprehensive help for children, youth, and young adults.

The Biden Administration’s approach to creating such opportunity is somewhat of a novel approach for federal-level policy, with a distinct focus on racial justice. If the pandemic has made more people economically vulnerable, then perhaps the exposure of a gap-filled safety net gives Biden the platform he needs to enact sweeping change.  

One constituent commented on the ongoing hunger struggle in a New York Times article. “I wish that the lawmakers would have realized prior to us being in a pandemic that poor people needed more,” she said. “It took more of the middle class, and some of the upper class, to find that they needed help for people to act. For me to go in and tell the Indiana Legislature, ‘Hey, guys, $75 isn’t enough to eat for a week,’ that’s going to be a real hard sell. But when the whole world is suffering, that’s a different situation.” 

The expansion of SNAP and child nutrition benefits are examples of how policy decisions being made right now will promote long-term solutions. The Administration is pursuing innovative solutions, such as an EBT program to replace meals lost due to school closures and in the summer as well as increases in SNAP benefits and expanded access to free school meals.  

Such expansive approaches are crucial to program success, and they must be implemented to ensure that they reach disproportionately poor communities of color. A Children’s Health Watch study drew connections between mothers’ experiences of discrimination and household food insecurity, poor physical health, and depressive symptoms. President Biden’s push for investment in infrastructure, including schools, broadband, housing, environmental clean-ups, and care work as well as transportation projects lays the groundwork for more jobs for parents and safe environments for children. This and long-term investments in education, training, health care and other supports  provides a comprehensive and structural approach.  

Adult and children hands holding paper family cutout, family home, adoption, foster care, homeless support, family mental health, autism support, domestic violence concept

President Biden’s push for investment in infrastructure lays the groundwork for more jobs for parents and safe environments for children.

This dedication is clearly seen in his American Families Plan. Strategically unveiled after the American Rescue Plan and American Jobs Plan, we see more evidence of the long-term commitment to equity. While the American Rescue Plan provided emergency assistance for nutrition, housing, child care, and student loans, much like his first infrastructure plan, this legislation will, if passed, provide the groundwork for maintaining boosts to economic security in more sustainable ways.  

The child tax credit gained a well-deserved spotlight as a key instrument in fighting poverty for families: poverty researchers at Columbia University and elsewhere estimate the temporary expansion in the American Rescue Plan would cut child poverty in half – but only for a yearNow, the American Families Plan proposes to extend that impressive gain through 2025. It would also make permanent an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children, allowing 19-24 year olds to qualify, and increasing the benefit. This will be of major assistance to young people with low incomes. 

But President Biden doesn’t stop there. He would provide support for free community college, increased child care subsidies, universal preschool, and paid family and medical leave. Perhaps one of the most transformative aspects of this plan is its funding — these programs would be funded by  increasing taxes on people with high incomes, including beefed-up enforcement so the rich are less able to avoid paying what they owe. 

Throughout this series, Voices for Human Needs has documented serious, pandemic-related problems that adversely affect children and families, among the pandemic’s most vulnerable people. Amidst a storm of structural inequity, hunger, increased poverty rates, disrupted education, and decreased job prospects, the future in the waning days of the Trump Administration looked bleak for an adequate federal response. However, Biden’s comprehensive and race-conscious approaches to social policy provide a glimpse into what we can hope will be transformative, building economic justice and the conditions in which children can thrive.    

Biden’s proposals are not law. Congress has to act if we are to realize this historic opportunity. If members of Congress understand that their actions are urgently needed to ensure that our children, youth, and young adults recover and prosper, they will build on and enact the Biden plans. 

To see what the Coalition on Human Needs has said about the American Families Plan, go here. For a summary of ten ways the American Families Plan helps families with low incomes and children, go here. 

 

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COVID-19 brought unique challenges, both for college students and those outside the college track https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-19-brought-unique-challenges-both-for-college-students-and-those-outside-the-college-track/ Thu, 03 Jun 2021 13:00:22 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7228 With online learning transitions, many students lost the resources and financial assistance their schools provided them. Combined with decreased availability of short-term employment and increased risk of front-facing jobs, many education plans have been uprooted.

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Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of blog posts examining how the pandemic has affected children in the U.S.

From the 17-year-old unable to thrive in remote learning who dropped out of school to the young adult in her twenties struggling to stay in college, the pandemic has thrown up daunting barriers to young people’s paths forward. When we discuss youth and COVID-19, it is important to explore the experiences of adolescents and young adults in all walks of life.

For young adults in college, the pandemic has brought on a new chapter in our nation’s rising mental health crisis. A survey by Boston University researchers found high levels of moderate or severe depression (39 percent) and anxiety (34 percent) among the nearly 33,000 college students. Over 80 percent of student respondents indicated that mental health is negatively affecting their education.

The researchers drew specific attention to how these figures are related to the experiences of disadvantaged student populations. “Students of color and low-income students are more likely to be grieving the loss of a loved one due to COVID,” co-author Sarah Ketchen Lipson said. They are also “more likely to be facing financial stress.” All of these factors can negatively impact mental health and academic performance in “profound ways,” she added.

The study supports CNBC’s interviews with college students, revealing struggles among this cohort. With online learning transitions, many students lost the resources and financial assistance their schools provided them. Combined with decreased availability of short-term employment and increased risk of front-facing jobs, many education plans have been uprooted.

The inconsistent access to technology is one major barrier to seamless schooling transitions, and consistent broadband is a privilege not everyone enjoys. “When Covid happened I was homeless, and I didn’t have access to anything. No access to a computer, a bathroom, because everything was closed,” Diosky De La Cruz, a master’s student at Florida International University, told CNBC.

The pandemic has thrown up daunting barriers to young people’s paths forward, uprooting education plans and opportunities.

Of students surveyed, nearly half of students say they can’t afford tuition anymore, and their graduation may be pushed back because of it. This trend is disproportionately common for students of color and low-income students, who reported they were taking fewer classes due to the pandemic and increased financial strain on their families.

“College was always a struggle for first-gen low-income students even before the pandemic,” said Gorick Ng, a Harvard career adviser and author of The Unspoken Rules. “If you’re the first in your family to pursue a higher education, if you’re coming from a lower socioeconomic status, you’re probably not just focusing on school. You’re working to support your family, you’re paying the bills, you’re paying your own tuition.”

Many of these students are now at risk of joining the group known as disconnected or opportunity youth, those between the ages of 16-24 who are neither employed nor pursuing education. Black and Native American young people are overrepresented in this group. Opportunity youth are more likely to have low incomes and have negative health outcomes and disabilities. Lack of support to guide them through more education and into employment diminishes their prospects to be taxpaying workers and leaves them more likely to rely on government services, at a cost to taxpayers of $1.6 trillion over their lifetimes in lost revenue and increased reliance upon social services.

Opportunity youth are often an invisible segment of young adults but make up about 10-12 percent of the youth-aged population. However, the percentage of those who can be categorized as opportunity youth is set to increase — some experts think it will climb as high as 25 percent this year, the same rate as during the Great Depression.

Programs aimed at assisting these individuals have faced serious problems during the pandemic. Many of these programs provide students with crucial financial support that allows them to earn high school or postsecondary degrees, but during the COVID lockdowns, work was limited and many students were not able to get the pay they had depended on.

“A lot of programs are just closing and they don’t have any opportunities to engage their young people,” said Adam Strong, a national advocate for disconnected youth and an alumnus of YouthBuild and AmeriCorps in Eastern Kentucky. “The online opportunities aren’t there. The infrastructure isn’t there. They don’t have the funds for that.”

However, despite widespread challenges, many opportunity youth have continued to participate in programs like YouthBuild during the pandemic and have provided essential work such as helping with the distribution of PPE to frontline workers. Other programs have engaged youth in apprenticeship programs developed through longstanding partnerships in their communities.

The Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan includes new funding for subsidized jobs, apprenticeship programs, and training through community colleges. It tries to prevent young people from leaving high school before graduation through programs for middle and high school students. The Biden American Families Plan would fund free community college and other postsecondary education, increases the maximum Pell Grant, and provides for a number of initiatives to improve college completion. Biden’s proposed appropriations for the Department of Education include a dramatic increase in funding for K-12 schools in low-income communities. All of these proposals would combine to give opportunity youth more help and to assist those who’ve made it to college to be able to complete their education.

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COVID-19 magnified America’s housing crisis for families with children  https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-19-magnified-americas-housing-crisis-for-families-with-children/ Tue, 01 Jun 2021 13:00:57 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7192 Homelessness and insecure housing have received attention from policy researchers as growing evidence of their harm has surfaced. Links between experiencing homelessness and poor health outcomes are long-lasting and harmful for marginalized communities and families, especially those with young children.  

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Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of blog posts examining how the pandemic has affected children, youth, and young adults in the U.S. 

Homelessness and insecure housing have received attention from policy researchers as growing evidence of their harm has surfaced. Links between experiencing homelessness and poor health outcomes are long-lasting and harmful for marginalized communities and families, especially those with young children.  

A Children’s Health Watch study of caregivers of children aged 0-48 months in 2018, well before the pandemic, found that 34 percent were behind in rent, experienced multiple moves, and/or had a history of homelessness. For the 27 percent behind in rent, there were increased odds of fair or poor child health and caregiver health, maternal depression, and a lifetime history of hospitalization for children. 

Children who are homeless are more likely to experience developmental delays, asthma exacerbations, obesity, dental and vision problems, and mental health disorders.  

The economic toll of COVID 19 on families makes this link more pertinent than ever before, as more families face the economic fallout of the pandemic and shelters struggle to meet an increasing need with decreased capacity. The effect of housing needs was magnified and also led to more doctors becoming more involved in housing policy.  

Adult and children hands holding paper family cutout, family home, adoption, foster care, homeless support, family mental health, autism support, domestic violence concept

Children who are homeless are more likely to experience developmental delays, asthma exacerbations, obesity, dental and vision problems, and mental health disorders.  

The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse survey data showed a consistent trend throughout the pandemic months that many renters are struggling to afford their housing. This fact was especially true for households with low incomes, people of color, and households with children. In the most recent findings, covering April 28 through May 10, close to one in five households with children (18.5 percent) were not caught up on their rent, compared to 12 percent of households without children. Among Black households (with or without children), an especially alarming 28 percent were behind in rent. This was also true of 17.5 percent of Latino households and 20 percent of Asian American households, while white households were below the national average, at 8 percent. Although the eviction moratorium now in place is protecting many families from being turned out of their housing, the rent is still owed, and families remain in a precarious position. Some have moved out in anticipation of eviction, sometimes living in unstable situations with relatives, which can often be one step away from homelessness. 

People who are experiencing homelessness face unique barriers in the face of illness and public health measures. 

Even before the pandemic, 50 percent of families in shelters had at least one Black parent, despite making up 14 percent of the population.  

COVID-19 has amplified both the individual and societal harms of housing instability and homelessness. Despite the benefits provided by COVID-19 relief legislation, for many this was not enough to cover the drastic shift in income and lifestyle that the pandemic brought. Those who do not have permanent homes are more likely to face evictions due to over-occupancy, have to live in crowded congregate living, and may not be able to be reached in contact tracing efforts. Homelessness or frequent moves also strongly disrupt children’s schooling in a remote environment, further disrupting academic and social achievement at a crucial developmental checkpoint. Public school systems reported over 1.5 million children were experiencing homelessness well before the pandemic (in 2017-2018). Not graduating from high school is the single most important risk factor for homelessness, potentially keeping these children trapped in a cycle of housing insecurity.  

Homeless people’s limitations in protecting themselves from COVID and the associated health effects of disrupting housing has sparked an interest in using public health data to demonstrate the need to house people. This has become a ticking clock for policymakers, as the longer that homelessness continues, the more severe health outcomes become. 

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship May 28, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-may-28/ Fri, 28 May 2021 16:06:17 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7212 They Don’t Care Why You’re Out of Work edition. So far, 24 states have announced they will terminate federal pandemic unemployment benefits sometime in June, months before they will expire. They don’t seem to have tighter labor markets than the other states; rather, the early ends to UI look tied to politics, not economics. And it sure may force some people back to work in low-paying and even unsafe jobs.

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COVID-19 HardshipMay 28, 2021 

They Don’t Care Why You’re Out of Work edition. So far, 24 states have announced they will terminate federal pandemic unemployment benefits sometime in June, months before they will expire. They don’t seem to have tighter labor markets than the other states; J.P. Morgan analysts opine that “early ends to UI look tied to politics, not economics;” it turns out all of these states are headed by Republicans. The numbers below make these points: (1) there’s still a lot of joblessness: fewer jobs than people seeking them; (2) people have reasons for not working, even when there are open jobs: COVID is still taking a toll, disproportionately among Black, Latino and Indigenous people, and there are roadblocks to getting vaccinated; they don’t have child care (especially tough on women); and (3) people are still hurting: more than one-quarter (nearly 62 million) are in households having serious trouble paying their regular bills, and it’s a lot worse for Black and Latino households. Nevertheless, these governors will stop at least 3.6 million of their residents from receiving $300/week in federal benefits (and end all assistance if they’re gig or self-employed workers, since state benefits do not cover them). According to data from the Century Foundation, their actions will cost their states nearly $22 billion. That wouldn’t seem like good politics, but it sure may force some people back to work in low-paying and even unsafe jobs.

The nation needs more federal protections and investments, to create good jobs, provide child care, lift children and families out of poverty – you know, Build Back Better. Please tell your Senators and Representative to hurry up and vote for these investments in our future: click here.

 

 

15.8 million   

That’s how many people were receiving unemployment benefits as of May 8, of whom 6.5 million were receiving federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the only help for jobless gig or self-employed workers. Tweet this.

 

-3.6 million /24  

As of May 27, 24 states have plans to end federal unemployment benefits starting in June, cutting $300/week in benefits for more than 3.6m workers; most of these states will end PUA (see above) and leave those jobless with no aid at all. Tweet this.

 

-8.2 million

 

The U.S. still has 8.2 million fewer jobs than it had before the pandemic. That means workers cut off in the 24 states may not find work very easily. Tweet this.

 

12 for 10  

The economy is getting better, but there were still 12 jobless workers for every 10 job openings in March. Tweet this.

 

8.1 million 

Women’s unemployment rate, in April 2021, if you add to the official rate the 2 million women who’ve left the labor force since February 2020. Tweet this.

 

2.4 million 

How many people left a job, lost a job, or did not look for work because child care was not available – that’s more than 40% of all the adults who couldn’t get care for their children in the previous 4 weeks because of the pandemic (surveyed from 4/28 – 5/10). Tweet this.

 

30 million; half 

People in the U.S., who want to get vaccinated but are unable – often because they can’t take time off work or get to vaccination sites. Nearly half (48%) of those who haven’t gotten the COVID vaccine are concerned they’ll miss work because of side effects. 

 

55%/41%/32% /31%/27%  

Percentage of U.S. residents with at least one vaccine dose, by race/ethnicity: Asian (55%); White (41%); Indigenous (32%); Latino (31%); Black (27%). Latinx and Black workers are more likely to be in front-line jobs; less likely to have vaccine protection.

 

3.5x; 2.5x /
3x; 2x
 

Indigenous Americans are 3.5 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.5 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than White Americans. Black and Latino/Hispanic Americans are 3 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2 times more likely to die. 

 

1 in 4, or more 

More than 1 in 4 Americans (27%) found it somewhat or very difficult to pay for their usual household expenses in the past 7 days; that was true of ; 42% of Black; 36.5% of Latino; 23% Asian; 21% White Americans (surveyed April 28 – May 10). 

 

 

 

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CHN’s Podcast Episode 1: Raising the Federal Minimum Wage https://www.chn.org/voices/episode-1-voices-for-human-needs-podcast/ Thu, 27 May 2021 13:12:56 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7185 In our first episode of the Voices for Human Needs Podcast, hear from three policy advocates, activists, and organizers discuss the top-line impacts of raising the federal minimum wage through the Raise the Wage Act, the disproportionate impacts of a low federal minimum wage on women workers and BIPOC workers, and what listeners can do to organize in your communities in support of One Fair Wage.

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Episode overview

In this first episode of the new Voices for Human Needs Podcast, we talk all about the work of activists fighting to raise the federal minimum wage. Featured speakers come from across the country, including policy advocate, Judy Conti, the Director of Government Affairs at the National Employment Law Project, Adam Orman, a leader with Good Work Austin and the co-owner of a neighborhood restaurant in Austin, Texas, L’Oca D’Oro, and Trupti Patel, a lead organizer at One Fair Wage in Washington D.C. Listeners will hear more about the history of the federal minimum, and subminimum wages, the top line impacts of the Raise the Wage Act, the disproportionate impacts of a low federal minimum wage on women workers and BIPOC workers, and what listeners can do to organize their communities on behalf of a raised federal minimum wage. Scroll down to listen. 

why raise the federal minimum wage?

Millions of our nation’s workers, including many of our celebrated essential workers, work in full-time jobs, and yet, they are still struggling to make ends meet. 

A 2021 report from the Brookings Institute found that essential workers comprise about half of all workers in low-paid occupations. Additionally, the National Low Income Housing Coalition reported in 2020 that full-time minimum wage workers cannot afford to rent even a one-bedroom apartment in 95% of U.S. Counties. These sobering realities only further support the analysis and recent reporting from the Economic Policy Institute that raising the federal minimum wage  to $15 an hour by 2025 is long overdue, and would “deliver broad benefits to workers and the economy.”

“The 32 million workers impacted by [the Raise the Wage Act] would have an average [wage] raise of about $3,300 a year by 2025, and when you’re in the bottom 21% of the wages in this country, $3,300 is a lot of money,” said Judy Conti who advocates on behalf of workers rights and federal policy to support low-wage workers and the unemployed. “Of the workers who would receive raises, 19 million of them are essential and frontline workers. We talk about how much these workers are heroes and how much praise they deserve. They don’t just deserve praise, they deserve a raise. They deserve praise and a raise.”

eliminating the subminimum wage for one fair wage

Momentum for the fight for a $15 minimum wage has been building in recent years, especially since the pandemic-induced spike in poverty. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009 and even worse, the subminimum wage for tipped workers has been stuck at $2.13 an hour since 1991, losing almost half of its value due to inflation over the past 30 years. A March 2021 Report from Justin Schweitzer at the Center for American Progress found that poverty rates are lower for everyone working in key tipped industries that have instituted a ‘one fair wage’ while also boosting job growth in key tipped industries like leisure and hospitality. 

“Everybody says you live paycheck to paycheck, but if you’re a tipped worker, you are living tip to mouth,” said Trupti Patel, who shared her reflections from working in the hospitality industry for 14 years before becoming an organizer with One Fair Wage: “Every tip is either gonna make or break what you make that day or take home. Now that I’m out of it, you get to see how much of a traumatic experience that is. In a way, you become numb and conditioned to accept it because, when you’re working, everybody’s working to survive, and then when you’re out of [a tipped wage job] you start realizing how much injustice you faced in that moment.”

“The tipped minimum wage comes from the era of reconstruction when it was an excuse for employers to put slaves back to work at a $0 wage where they were just going to be compensated by tips. In the last 150 years, that $0 has gone all the way up to $2.13. It became even more clear that was not something that our business could be associated with,” shared restaurant owner, Adam Orman. Adam also discussed what he learned about the tipped minimum wage that inspired him to become an advocate and to educate other small business owners on how their businesses can actually thrive with a raised, one fair wage: “There is also so much discrimination embedded in the tipped wage. Tipping, based on studies by the Economic Policy Institute, has a lot more to do with the gender and the race of the server than it does with the quality of the service. Texas is a $2.13 an hour state, but we never wanted to pay anybody $2.13 an hour and we knew that we could figure out a way to get everybody a base that was at least over the federal minimum wage, and include a service charge that we would be able to distribute to all staff and figure out how to guarantee them a living wage and then start to also add on more benefits.

With a Democratic majority in Congress, including a raised minimum wage as part of the legislative agenda has been a priority among activists and policymakers. However, efforts to raise the federal minimum wage faced a disappointing setback in Congress earlier this year during debates to pass the $1.9 trillion economic relief package, in the American Rescue Plan. Yet, in D.C., and across the country in both state-wide and local communities, the fight continues among policy advocates, organizers, business owners, and workers themselves for a raised, federal minimum wage. 

Actions you can take now as mentioned by our speakers

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Anchor, and more:

Listen along wherever you get your podcasts to learn what you can do to organize and advocate in your communities on behalf of one fair wage. The full transcript of this podcast episode is available here. 

Anchor:


Spotify:

Apple Podcasts:

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COVID-19 and children: An ongoing nutrition crisis  https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-19-and-children-an-ongoing-nutrition-crisis/ Wed, 26 May 2021 13:00:34 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7191 When COVID-19 struck, hunger among children increased sharply. By March of this year, up to 8.8 million children lived in households reporting that their children did not have enough to eat in the past 7 days. Before the pandemic, in December of 2019, 1.1 million children were in households in which children did not have enough to eat at some point in the previous 30 days. 

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Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of five blog posts examining how the coronavirus pandemic has affected children, youth, and young adults. 

When COVID-19 struck, hunger among children increased sharply. By March of this year, up to 8.8 million children lived in households reporting that their children did not have enough to eat in the past 7 days. Before the pandemic, in December of 2019, 1.1 million children were in households in which children did not have enough to eat at some point in the previous 30 days. 

Lack of enough nutritious food has been measured in different ways. Before the pandemic, the most common measure was food insecurity, defined as inability to afford consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. The U.S. Department of Agriculture annually surveys whether households have experienced this within the previous year. During the pandemic, the Census Bureau surveyed people frequently, and asked the much more immediate question of whether they had enough to eat in the past week. In April of this year, 11 percent of adults living with children reported their households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week; it was 7 percent in households without children. 

Portrait of a boy in mask at home

In April of this year, 11% of adults living with children reported their households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week

In 2019, the rate of food insecurity was the lowest in over 20 years according to Feeding America. A major public health issue for decades, there are a slew of negative outcomes for children associated with living in a household without consistent access to nutritious foods.  

Nutritional status affects many aspects of a child’s well-being. Food insecurity is one of the biggest risk factors for negative health outcomes and developmental delays. Even though this measure shows less immediate and acute lack of food than the food scarcity measured in the Census Bureau surveys during the pandemic, food insecurity in households is associated with poorer child health and development. Children in households that lack enough nutritious food in the first three years of their lives are more likely to be hospitalized and develop anemia and asthma. As they grow older, they are likely to repeat school grades, experience impairments in language and motor skills, and have social and behavioral problems.  

Before the pandemic’s onset, about one in seven children lived in a food insecure household. In 2020, that number climbed all the way to one in five; in 2021 it is about one in six. These statistics obscure deep disparities across social determinants, especially since those who have been impacted most were often already food insecure and were plunged further into poverty and unemployment – two major risk factors for being food insecure. Racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and families with young children are among the most vulnerableA sample of families with children under age 4 surveyed at Boston Medical Center during the pandemic found that 38.5 percent of families were food insecure, up from 35.3 percent prior to the pandemicCenter on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis found that Black and Latino adults were more than twice as likely as white adults to report in late March 2021 that their household didn’t get enough to eat in the last seven days:16 percent each, compared to 6 percent of white adults. 

Many families who had never needed assistance found themselves struggling. Military families were one of the groups that began to flock to food banks in numbers never seen before. A similar scenario occurred for families whose children relied on in-person lunch benefits that stopped when children were not getting in-person education and found aid delayed by disjointed delivery systems that have placed a lot of pressure on local food banks to meet the need.  

However, as assistance ramped up, through cash payments to many families and nutrition benefits delivered through SNAP and debit cards to replace in-school meals, hunger has been declining. Last summer’s distribution of food aid through Pandemic EBT cards has been estimated at lifting about 3 million children out of hunger.   

The nutritional crisis is a central part of Biden’s transformative approach to social aid and welfare policy, the implications of which are discussed in the conclusion of this series. 

 

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The long-term impact of COVID-19: Assessing the pandemic’s youngest victims  https://www.chn.org/voices/the-long-term-impact-of-covid-19-assessing-the-pandemics-youngest-victims/ Mon, 24 May 2021 13:00:53 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7172 Possibly the broadest impact of COVID-19 lies in its economic ramifications. From the effect of lockdowns on labor practices and employment to the loss of community supports and services that require in-person attention, the pandemic pushed apart cracks in a faltering social safety net in America.  As more households fall into poverty, children have become one of the pandemic’s biggest victims. Beginning today, a new Voices for Human Needs series of blog posts will highlight how the pandemic has harmed children and families in poverty, focusing on children of all ages and how key risk factors have evolved in the age of COVID-19.  

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Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blog posts examining how the pandemic has affected children, youth, and young adults in the U.S.  

Possibly the broadest impact of COVID-19 lies in its economic ramifications. From the effect of lockdowns on labor practices and employment to the loss of community supports and services that require in-person attention, the pandemic pushed apart cracks in a faltering social safety net in America.  As more households fall into poverty, children have become one of the pandemic’s biggest victims. Beginning today, a new Voices for Human Needs series of blog posts will highlight how the pandemic has harmed children and families in poverty, focusing on children of all ages and how key risk factors have evolved in the age of COVID-19. 

A young boy looking out the window wearing a protective facemark while seeking protection from COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, by sheltering in place in his home.

Child welfare advocates and public officials should pay special attention to children in their policy responses to the pandemic

 

Leading up to 2020, poverty rates among children were the lowest since 1973. This progress quickly stalled; school closures exacerbated food insecurity, job losses affected low-income households and racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately, and technology inequality caused educational inequities in remote learning, to name a few challenges that policymakers and service providers faced. Prior to the pandemicaccording to Columbia University researchers, the poverty rate was 15 percent. Tax credits and shortterm aid reduced the poverty rate to 12 percent in March; without that aid it would have increased to 19.4 percent. Child poverty reached a peak in August 2020 at a rate of 21.4 percent. Furthermore, the rates of poverty fall unequally across racial and minority lines, with 11 percent of white children in poverty compared to 24 percent among Black and Hispanic children. Census Household Pulse data show the impact of financial strain on hunger, estimating 7 to 11 million children living in food insecure households. 

Rising poverty and hardship have important implications for children, and child welfare advocates and public officials should pay special attention to children in their policy responses to the pandemic. Experts in child development sum up child poverty as “deprivation” for children, affecting them both in short-term and long-term ways, as disruptions caused by the pandemic reach many children at a time of critical childhood development.  

This is due to a developmental psychology phenomenon called toxic stress. When a child’s stress response is activated within an environment of supportive relationships and resources, then stress hormones are able to return to normal levels and the child develops a resilient stress response. However, when multiple causes of stress force long-lasting and extreme responses, this damages the brain architecture of the child and has lifelong consequences, according to Harvard researchersThese include a host of negative health outcomes such as depression, anxiety disorders, alcoholism, drug abuse, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke. 

In the case of the pandemic, the financial and emotional stress being placed on families can place serious strain on otherwise functional families. The longer this stress lasts, the harder it is to create effective interventions. Furthermore, the full effects may not even be seen until later in life.  

In this series, we will explore the scope of such social and financial stressors, what is being done to fix them, and how the Biden Administration is transforming family supports to strengthen our long-term ability to fight toxic stress and ensure a better, successful future for our country’s children and youth. 

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For some, no ID has meant no COVID-19 vaccination  https://www.chn.org/voices/for-some-no-id-has-meant-no-covid-19-vaccination/ Fri, 21 May 2021 15:05:16 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7194 Miguel has tried twice to get the COVID-19 vaccination. So far, he’s 0 for 2. As an undocumented construction worker living in crowded conditions outside of Miami, Miguel is a prime example of someone who needs the COVID-19 vaccination – as well as representative of a population public health officials acutely want to see vaccinated. But like millions of people living in the U.S., Miguel lacks state-issued identification.

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Miguel has tried twice to get the COVID-19 vaccination. So far, he’s 0 for 2. 

As an undocumented construction worker living in crowded conditions outside of Miami, Miguel is a prime example of someone who needs the COVID-19 vaccination – as well as representative of a population public health officials acutely want to see vaccinated. 

But like millions of people living in the U.S., Miguel lacks state-issued identification. And Florida officials, caught in the political crosshairs earlier this year when “vaccine tourists” were flying into the state from countries such as Argentina, Canada, and Mexico to get vaccinated even before Florida residents, moved quickly to adopt residency requirements. 

Miguel, who shared his story with Buzzfeed, represents just one demographic that has had problems obtaining a vaccination. Others who have been turned away include elderly people who no longer drive and people who are homeless. 

Notes Buzzfeed: 

In some cases, BuzzFeed News has found, eligible people are rejected even when they show up with documents that fit the site’s stated rules, highlighting a patchwork of inconsistent and sometimes arbitrary policies across vaccination centers. While officials have imposed ID requirements with the stated intent of making vaccine distribution more equitable, they have also created barriers for many in high-risk populations, including undocumented immigrants, older adults who don’t drive, and people experiencing homelessness. 

To be sure, ID requirements that have caused some to be turned away from vaccine clinics are not the result of nefarious efforts by local or state officials – unlike, for example, voter ID laws advanced by some state legislatures that many say suppress turnout. Rather, they appear to be a result of a mishmash of regulations practiced by pharmacies, health clinics, hospitals, and other entities. 

Immigrants have been turned away from pharmacies and other places after being asked for driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers or health insurance cards — specific documentation not mandated by states or the federal government but often requested at vaccination sites across the country,” reports the Washington Post. “Often the request comes in English, a language many of the vaccine-seekers don’t fully understand. 

As the number of available vaccines begins to climb above the number of vaccination seekers, there is some evidence, if only anecdotal, that the problem is abating. For one thing, pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreen, and Albertsons (which owns Safeway) have clarified policies to state that they will not ask for ID for anyone seeking a COVID-19 vaccination. 

And a KFF poll released in April that sought to ask people who had not been vaccinated to list why, a plurality of respondents gave three reasons: “Wanted to wait and see/wait until more people have gotten it” (15 percent); “Concerned about safety and/or side effects” (11 percent); “Don’t want/need it” (10 percent). Only 3 percent agreed with the statement, “Don’t have proper documentation/not sure if eligible.” 

At the same time, however, a newer KFF poll, released in mid-May, asked Latinx respondents what concerns they had about getting vaccinated. Some 39 percent expressed concern they “may be required to provide a social security number or government-issued ID in order to get the COVID-19 vaccine.” 

What is really at work here, advocates say, is not just that ID requirements create a barrier to vaccinations – a situation that is bad enough for individuals and their health and also bad for the nation’s attempt to build herd immunity. Rather, they say it points to a monumental ID crisis in America. 

An estimated 21 million Americans – or about 11 percent of the nation’s adult population – lack state-issued IDs, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Those without ID are not spread equally across all demographic groups; they tend to be elderly, people of color, and they reside in low-income communities (on average, a state-issued ID costs $40). 

Kat Calvin, Co-Founder and CEO of Project ID Action Fund, told CBS News that the last thing our country should be doing right now is telling those without documentation – among the most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and dying from it – that they cannot get vaccinated. 

“Coronavirus doesn’t care if you are unhoused or if you live in a gated community,” she said. “It’s coming for all of us and the only way we can resolve this crisis is by making sure that everybody gets the health care they need, that everybody gets vaccines.” 

Calvin said her organization knows of cases where people seeking COVID-19 vaccinations have been asked about their immigration status – something the Department of Homeland Security, to say nothing of many states’ web sites, insist should never happen. 

Says Calvin: 

“They’re hearing horror stories about people who have been rejected, and they’re saying, you know what? This isn’t something I even want to try. I don’t know what the consequences are going to be.” 

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Small business owners praise Biden proposals, bemoan pro-corporate tilt of America’s tax code  https://www.chn.org/voices/small-business-owners-praise-biden-proposals-bemoan-pro-corporate-tilt-of-americas-tax-code/ Thu, 20 May 2021 18:20:35 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7186 Rosalind McCallard lives in Portland, Oregon. Along with her husband, she owns Snackrilege Vegan Foods, which she cheerfully describes as the “only wholesale heavy metal-themed sandwich company in the world – at least in the U.S., but probably the world!” McCallard and her husband favor President Biden’s plan to more progressively tax corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay for the proposed American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.

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Rosalind McCallard lives in Portland, Oregon. Along with her husband, she owns Snackrilege Vegan Foods, which she cheerfully describes as the “only wholesale heavy metal-themed sandwich company in the world – at least in the U.S., but probably the world!” 

McCallard and her husband have been in business about seven years and employ six workers. They favor President Biden’s plan to more progressively tax corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay for the proposed American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. 

“We believe that Main Street businesses understand how important it is for all of us to make a shared contribution – toward schools, hospitals, buses, roads and all of the things that make our communities thrive and support prosperous local economies,” McCallard said. “We believe that everyone paying their fair share of taxes will make our society better for everyone.” 

McCallard and three other small business owners came together this week to praise President Biden’s plan to progressively raise revenues. You can read more about Monday’s “Tax Fairness Day” event here; you can view the approximately 90-minute program here. 

Natasha McKeller Crosby is a small business owner and realtor in Richmond, Virginia. She also serves as President of Richmond’s LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce. 

“COVID-19 has driven home how essential it is to fund our communities and provide relief for the Black-owned businesses, for the Latino-owned businesses, for the mom and pops hit hardest by this pandemic,” McKeller Crosby said. “Now, with all of us pitching in, with our small business owners, their employees, people of all races, people of all walks of life, it’s now time for corporations to pitch in as well. 

Sarah McDowell, a small business owner in West Virginia, gained valuable expertise before she ever went into business for herself when she worked in the legislative and executive branches of state government. While there, she learned a lot about policies relating to education, health care, economic development, and taxation. 

“You see, I don’t mind paying taxes,” she says. “I don’t mind paying my fair share of taxes because I know where it goes. Local schools, local hospitals, first responders, and more – all critical components to building healthy and strong communities. But if we want to build healthy, strong, and economically thriving communities? Well, we’ve got to address the current taxation system.” 

Of Biden’s proposal, McDowell says, “It helps level the playing field for small businesses like mine by making corporate America pay their fair share, which is still lower than it was three years ago. This in turn will stimulate local economies, strengthen our communities, and create jobs. That’s something we can all support.” 

Small Business Owner Of Coffee Shop In Mask Standing Behind Counter

President Biden plans to tax corporations and the wealthiest Americans more progressively to pay for the proposed American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.

Already, some who oppose Biden’s tax proposals are spreading misinformation about their potential impact – including claims that small businesses will be harmed, and that subsequently will kill jobs. 

Anne Zimmerman, a CPA and small business owner in Cincinnati, Ohio, said that is not true. “Most small businesses are not paying at the corporate rate,” said Zimmerman, who serves as co-chair of Small Business for America’s Future. “They’re paying at the individual rate because they’re pass-throughs. Almost none of the smallest businesses are Ccorporations, which would pay at the corporate rate anyway. It’s really affecting the large companies, the Fortune 500s, the Amazons of the world, many of which are not even paying any tax.” 

Soon after Biden’s plans were released, Small Business for America’s Future surveyed its network of 1,052 small businesses and found widespread support both for Biden’s America Jobs Plan and for his tax proposals. 

Specifically, two-thirds said they support increasing taxes on corporations to pay for the American Jobs Plan. And three-fourths said the current tax code favors large corporations over small businesses, corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes, and small businesses are harmed when large businesses or corporations use loopholes to avoid paying taxes. 

Zimmerman says her favorite part of Biden’s plan is that “all public corporations are going to have to pay at least 15 percent of their book income, what they report to their shareholders, not what they report to the tax man. That makes so much sense to me. Why wouldn’t we have them pay at least 15 percent, when individuals are paying every bit that much and even more?” 

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The Big Tax Day choice: Invest in America, or let corporations and the rich off the hook  https://www.chn.org/voices/the-big-tax-day-choice-invest-in-america-or-let-corporations-and-the-rich-off-the-hook/ Wed, 19 May 2021 18:26:17 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7180 Human needs advocates, grassroots organizers, key public officials, and tax policy and other experts came together this week to promote President Biden’s plans to bring fairness and equity to the nation’s tax code. Officially, the “Tax Fairness Day” event, which was live-streamed on Facebook, marked the May 17 deadline for Americans to file their taxes (moved back, courtesy of COVID-19). Unofficially, speakers came together to praise Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, and the means to pay for them. 

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Human needs advocates, grassroots organizers, key public officials, and tax policy and other experts came together this week to promote President Biden’s plans to bring fairness and equity to the nation’s tax code. 

Officially, the “Tax Fairness Day” event, which was live-streamed on Facebook, marked the May 17 deadline for Americans to file their taxes (moved back, courtesy of COVID-19). Unofficially, speakers came together to praise Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, and the means to pay for them. 

President Biden has proposed raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations by $3.6 trillion over a decade. No one earning less than $400,000 would be affected. Biden would increase the top income tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent and would eliminate a loophole that allows wealthy Americans to avoid paying taxes on their wealth by passing it on to their heirs. The top corporate tax rate would rise to 28 percent and businesses would be deterred from sheltering profits offshore. And Biden would step up IRS enforcement by hiring more agents and investing in new tools and technology. 

“We are at a critical juncture,” said Frank Clemente, Executive Director of the Americans for Tax Fairness Coalition, which organized and hosted the event. “We have the opportunity to finally draw down the curtain on 40 years of failed tax-cutting, trickle-down economics. It’s time to usher in a new era of tax fairness and public investment.” 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi joined to celebrate the short-term help in place now, and urged, “Together we must now help President Biden build an economy that works for all.” 

Jared Bernstein, a member of President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, explained that the U.S. through the years has evolved toward a less fair tax code and a diminished tax base. He said not only has the federal tax system been collecting less revenue than fiscal sustainability requires, but it has come to favor wealth over work, with wealth, not earnings, dominating the high end of the economic scale. 

Bernstein pointed to three disturbing trends that demonstrate the need for Biden’s proposals. 

First, he said wealth has become increasingly concentrated in the U.S. in recent decades. The share of wealth held by the top 1 percent is roughly the same as the share of wealth held by the bottom 90 percent. And white families have about eight times the wealth of black families and five times the wealth of Latinx families. 

Second, Bernstein said increasingly concentrated wealth is rewarded by the current tax code. And third, he said there are two ways the tax code favors wealth over earnings. One way is through favorable tax rates – the top rate for capital gains and dividends is 20 percent while the top rate for earnings is 37 percent. A second way is that for the majority of American households, income comes from earnings and whatever wealth exists comes from savings families have been able to put aside. Families live from their paychecks and not from stock portfolios, while the wealthiest Americans derive their income from non-labor sources. 

John Anzalone, a longtime pollster who worked for Biden during the 2020 campaign and still polls for him, said public opinion on tax issues has reversed itself from where it was 40 years ago and even more recently. He said Democrats are no longer on the defense when it comes to taxes. 

In fact, Anzalone said, every focus group on the topic he has conducted in the past five years has featured middle class families saying their work is not valued in today’s economy and they take on a share of the tax burden that should be borne by corporations and the wealthiest Americans. 

“The American people are pissed off and they’re with us on the diagnosis that they take too much of a burden and those at the top don’t take enough,” Anzalone said. “And the fact is, we see this in the public polling and the polling we do internally. We see that a super majority of people support increasing corporate taxes. And we see two-thirds of Americans supporting increasing taxes on those people making over $400,000. And we also see two-thirds of people in America supporting increasing the corporate minimum tax and closing loopholes that allow the wealthy and big corporations to avoid or skirt their obligations.” 

Chuck Collins, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, said U.S. billionaires in particular have consolidated their wealth during the past 14 months of pandemic. “Since March 2020, the total combined wealth of U.S. billionaires has increased $1.6 trillion, an increase of 55 percent” he said. “The pandemic concentration of wealth is staggering. Since 1990, a full third of the billionaire wealth gains have occurred during the past 14 months of the pandemic.” 

A number of speakers linked reforming the tax code to a social justice movement aimed at addressing racial and other forms in inequity. 

“It is so affirming to be talking to people who want tax justice because we are never going to get racial justice, we are never going to get economic justice, we are never going to get climate justice without first getting tax justice,” said Amy HanauerExecutive Director for the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. “And the way that we’re going to do it is by having corporations and wealthy people pay their fair share. That’s how we’ll fund the kinds of communities we want, provide the support for families, and take on the challenges of inequality and climate chaos that are haunting us in 2021.” 

Janet Marguia, President of UnidosUS, said Latinx people earned more than $1 trillion and paid more than $250 billion in taxes in 2017 alone. “But this has not resulted in equitable opportunities to build well, even in 2019 (before the pandemic),” she said. “When Latino household income was at an all-time high, Latino households only earned 74 cents to every one dollar earned by white households. A fair tax code that works for Latino families is critical for ensuring families can build their American dreams, now and into the future.” 

Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, noted that women of color – and women in general – have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the recession it left behind. But she also noted that women were struggling before COVID-19 ever landed. 

“It’s not enough to go back to where we were in January of 2020,” she said. “We need large-scale public investments to put us on a path to shared and sustainable prosperity. The Biden Administration makes historic investments in the care infrastructure that makes all other work possible, including child care, paid leave, and home- and community-based supports. These investments will ensure that families can care for their loved ones and that the women who do this work are paid living wages.” 

Many speakers praised the proposals to continue expansions of the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the need to permanently support funding for child care and health care, particularly for low-income Americans. 

Amy Adams, representing the Iowa Citizen Action Network and Iowa Tax March, said that as a parent of three children, she is particularly excited about the expanded Child Tax Credit, which will result in monthly payments to many parents beginning July 15. 

“Currently, tax credits are tied to refunds that occur once per year,” she said. “Under Biden’s plan, this credit would be delivered regularly. As parents, we all know about those unwanted expenses. Whether it’s a trip to the doctor’s office, a trip to the dentist’s office, money for a class field trip, or buying groceries or simply putting a meal on the table. We know that when this money is delivered regularly, it will have a greater impact on families. Not just a once-per-year tax refund.” 

Julie Groce, a parent, elementary school teacher, and MomsRising member, lived with her husband in Arizona when the pandemic hit. Her son’s child care center shut down, and she struggled to meet his needs while also teaching her students remotely. “I wasn’t able to do my job as well as I wanted and I wasn’t able to be the mom I wanted to, and that was awful,” she recalls. 

Julie and her husband moved to Grand Blanc, Michigan, to be closer to family. She was thrilled to be hired once again as an elementary school teacher. “But trying to find a child care program, that was a nightmare,” she said. “So many child care centers didn’t get the support they needed to weather the pandemic, forcing them to shut down. In some cases, it was a permanent shutdown.” 

Eventually, Julie and her husband, who works in IT, did find child care for their son. “We eventually did find a fantastic program, but we’re paying through the nose and it’s a huge financial burden on us,” Julie said. “And I don’t know how families like mine are going to make it unless we make child care more affordable in this country.” 

Laura Packard, health care activist and founder of Health Care Voices, notes that Biden’s proposals include making care more affordable for more Americans under the Affordable Care Act. 

“Four years ago, I walked into my doctor’s office with a nagging cough and walked out with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis,” Laura said. “I’m in remission today thanks to the care I received that I was able to pay for through the Affordable Care Act. The ACA makes benefits for affordable for millions of Americans. We need to pass the American Families Plan now to make sure those benefits are permanent and that every American who needs health care is able to get it. We need to tax the rich and corporations to help pay for the health care that every American needs and deserves.” 

Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, framed the debate facing Congress as a “big Tax Day choice.” 

Invest in our children, our workers, our future – or forget that, and let corporations and the rich keep on paying far less than their fair share. How hard a choice is that?” she asked. 

 

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship May 14, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-may-14/ Fri, 14 May 2021 18:17:17 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7166 The where-are-the-good-jobs edition. The economy is growing in fits and starts. More than one million combined jobs were added during the months of March and April -- although the April jobs report was nothing to write home about. But evidence is emerging that many of the jobs that are returning are not good jobs; they pay low wages, have few benefits, or fall short in other measures of job quality. That contradicts the narrative of governors in 12 states terminating federal unemployment benefits. These governors claim that the extra unemployment benefits, that may exceed wages in low-paying jobs, are discouraging workers from returning to work.

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COVID-19 HardshipMay 14, 2021

The where-are-the-good-jobs edition. The economy is growing in fits and starts. More than one million combined jobs were added during the months of March and April — although the April jobs report was nothing to write home about. But evidence is emerging that many of the jobs that are returning are not good jobs; they pay low wages, have few benefits, or fall short in other measures of job quality. That contradicts the narrative of governors in 12 states terminating federal unemployment benefits. These governors claim that the extra unemployment benefits, that may exceed wages in low-paying jobs, are discouraging workers from returning to work. In fact, when there are jobs to return to, even at low wages, workers are taking them. But right now, there are still only 8 million job openings and 16 million jobless workers. And nearly 7 million adults reported they couldn’t get child care; that, not unemployment aid, is keeping many parents from going back to work. . 

“We can create an economy where everyone has a good job,” writes Tracy Williams, a Director at Omidyar Network, where she focuses on reimagining capitalism and creating good jobs with better benefits and protections. “But if we don’t start to pay attention to the quality, and not just the quantity of jobs, we risk creating an economy where major disruptions driven by pandemics or natural disasters, automation, and climate change could lead to continued deterioration in quality of jobs for those who already find themselves in a precarious position. And if we continue to rely on the unemployment rate to tell us what is going on, we risk becoming dangerously out of touch with what is really happening.” 

President Biden’s plan would create and improve jobs on so many levels – raising wages and benefits for essential home care workers; paying prevailing wages in safe and healthy workplaces while ensuring workers have the right to organize and bargain; delivering clean drinking water, a renewed electric grid, and high speed broadband to all Americans; and bringing needed repairs to our highways, bridges, ports, airports, and transit systems. 

That’s only the beginning. Biden also has proposed two years of pre-school for children and two years of community college for adults. He would resuscitate the child care industry, an essential step toward putting millions of women back in the workforce. He would extend the improved Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without dependent children (permanently) and the Child Tax Credit (through 2025), and he would expand access to health care – another step that would create good-paying jobs. 

Another thing we could do is raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. But (spoiler alert!) you’ll be hearing more about that from CHN a little ways down the road. 

 

More than half 

52 percent of workers laid off during the pandemic – even if they were subsequently rehired – reported a decline in their overall job quality as measured across 11 dimensions, including pay, benefits, stability, and safety. Tweet this. 

 

36%/23% 

Those who started 2020 in a low-quality or “bad” job – based on their own assessment – were far more likely to have been laid off (36 percent) than those working a high-quality or “good” job pre-pandemic (23 percent). And low-wage workers with high-quality jobs in 2019 reported experiencing much lower COVID-19 risk and better employer-provided protective measures during the pandemic. Tweet this. 

 

895,000; $4.66b 

The number of workers who will lose federal pandemic unemployment benefits early because 12 states, as of May 13, have announced they will opt out of delivering the federal benefits. Total benefits lost: $4.66 billion. The National Employment Law Project is calling on the U.S. Dept. of Labor to deliver the benefits, which are mandatory under federal law. Tweet this. 

 

1/3 

According to government estimates, one-third of small landlords are at risk of bankruptcy or foreclosure as tenants struggle to pay rent. More than 8 million rental properties across the country are behind in payments by an average of $5,600, according to U.S. Census data. Nearly half of these rental properties are not owned by banks or big corporations, but rather by small landlords. Tweet this. 

 

-41% 

The proportion of Americans sometimes or often without enough to eat in the previous week has dropped more than 40 percent since its peak in December, according to Census data through April 26; nearly 13 million fewer adults reporting on their households This is proof that hundreds of billions of dollars in direct stimulus is working. Tweet this. 

 

45%/36%/13% 

A new survey by Bankrate.com found Americans planned to use their stimulus checks to cover essential expenses such as monthly bills (45 percent) or day-to-day necessities such as food or supplies (36 percent). Only 13 percent said they would use the funds for non-essential spending. 

 

11% 

Of adults living in households with children, 11 percent (close to 7 million) were in households where children were unable to attend day care/another child care arrangement because of the coronavirus pandemic in the past four weeks, according to Household Pulse Survey data collected April 14-26.

 

266,000 

The U.S. economy added just 266,000 jobs during the month of April, well under the one million new jobs that were forecast by some economists. It was a sharp drop-off from the 770.000 jobs added in March. The U.S. remains 8 millions jobs in the hole after losing 22.3 million jobs in March and April 2000.

  

2.2 million 

The number of Americans with low incomes still not covered by Medicaid expansion in the 12 states that have refused to expand coverage, despite generous incentives from the federal government. Most of the 2.2 million people live in the South and are people of color.

 

64 million/ 

$800 billion 

Around the world, women have lost 64 million jobs and $800 billion in income during the pandemic – that’s equivalent to the combined GDP of 98 countries. These figures come from Oxfam, but experts warn they could be much worse because women working in tourism, retail, and hospitality often are not counted.

  

 

 

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Ten key provisions in the American Families Plan for people with low incomes https://www.chn.org/voices/ten-key-provisions-in-the-american-families-plan-for-people-with-low-incomes/ Fri, 14 May 2021 17:52:34 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7168 On April 28, President Biden announced his latest legislative proposal, The American Families Plan (AFP). It’s a bold and transformative effort to help the country recover from the coronavirus and recession. The AFP would target resources to many of those who need them most: people with low incomes, communities of color, and children who have been disproportionately harmed by the coronavirus, recession, and years of underinvestment. The plan would directly impact people with low incomes in many ways, here’s a summary of our top-10 provisions.

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Editor’s note: Shiva Sethi is a Legislative Assistant on the Legislative Affairs Team for the Center on Law and Social Policy (CLASP). This blog entry is cross-posted with permission.

By Shiva Sethi
On April 28, President Biden announced his latest legislative proposal, The American Families Plan (AFP). It’s a bold and transformative effort to help the country recover from the coronavirus and recession. The AFP would target resources to many of those who need them most: people with low incomes, communities of color, and children who have been disproportionately harmed by the coronavirus, recession, and years of underinvestment.

The plan would directly impact people with low incomes in many ways; here’s a summary of our top-10 provisions:

1) The AFP would create a national, comprehensive paid family and medical leave program that guarantees 12 weeks of paid leave per worker, so no one has to choose between their pay and caring for their health or that of their loved ones. Currently 93 percent of workers earning low wages don’t have access to paid leave. If enacted, this provision will particularly benefit workers who are women, parents, and from Black, Latinx, and Native communities.

2) The plan would invest $225 billion in child care by, among other things, guaranteeing that families with moderate or low incomes don’t pay more than 7 percent of their income on care for children under 3.

3) It would also invest $200 billion in universal preschool so all 3- and 4-year-olds have access to high-quality pre-kindergarten. This investment would bolster an essential but underpaid workforce, which is almost exclusively women—and disproportionately women of color at that, while supporting families’ economic security and our children’s futures.

4) The groundbreaking improvements to make the Child Tax Credit (CTC) available to the lowest income families, enacted in previous COVID-19 legislation – and projected to cut child poverty in half – would be extended by five years until 2025. Families with the lowest incomes will no longer be excluded from the credit, and they’ll receive up to $3,600 per year, per child delivered in regular installments.

5) The improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in the American Rescue Plan, which increased the maximum credit for approximately 17 million workers without dependent children and young adults with low incomes from $540 to $1,500 annually, would be made permanent. This would particularly benefit young people who have disproportionately suffered from this recession.

6) All young people will have access to two years of free postsecondary education at community colleges. In addition, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions, would receive increased funding. These institutions are engines for economic mobility for entire communities.

7) The ARP addresses nutrition assistance in several ways. The Summer-EBT nutrition assistance program, which helps families with low incomes purchase food during the summer, would be made permanent – supporting an estimated 29 million children. The plan would also eliminate the current lifetime ban on receiving SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as food stamps, for people who have been convicted of a drug-related felony. These changes will have positive, multigenerational effects on food security.

8) DREAMers would gain access to two free years of community college and Pell Grants to help them pay for postsecondary education. This would help thousands of immigrant youth access higher education, removing barriers to their full workforce participation.

9) Since the onset of the pandemic, state unemployment insurance (UI) systems have struggled to respond to staggeringly high levels of unemployment. This plan calls on Congress to modernize UI systems to ensure they are effective and responsive to economic conditions.

10) Finally, the AFP will invest $200 billion to improve access to affordable health insurance and health care. The proposal would increase funding for maternal health and permanently reduce insurance premiums – allowing 4 million uninsured people to gain coverage.

CLASP has worked on these issue areas for years, and we’re excited that the White House is prioritizing the needs of people with low incomes. Our country’s most important infrastructure has always been our people. This plan invests in people and the caregivers and care systems that support them. We outlined our full list of priorities for recovery legislation in Securing an Equitable Recovery.

The visionary American Families Plan, if enacted, would transform our nation by making it fairer and more equitable. However, the AFP does not sufficiently address several key CLASP priorities for recovery including mental health, subsidized jobs, and policies that directly support the needs of youth and young adults. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration, members of Congress, and other allies to build back a better and fairer country.

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CHN’s Podcast Trailer: Welcome to Voices for Human Needs https://www.chn.org/voices/introducing-the-voices-for-human-needs-podcast/ Thu, 13 May 2021 15:45:35 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7144 We at the Coalition on Human Needs advocate for ending poverty and alleviating social and economic hardship for people with low-incomes and other vulnerable populations through federal policies, but we know we can’t do it alone. That is why we are introducing our new project: the Voices for Human Needs Podcast. This podcast will serve as a go-to resource for both new and experienced activists in their journey fighting alongside organizers, communities, and policy advocates. 

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At the Coalition on Human Needs, we advocate for ending poverty and alleviating social and economic hardship for people with low-incomes and other vulnerable populations through federal policies, but we know we can’t do it alone. 

That is why we are introducing our new project: the Voices for Human Needs Podcast. This podcast will serve as a go-to resource for both new and experienced activists in their journey fighting alongside organizers, communities, and policy advocates. 

This season, we will speak with partners of our coalition — including policy experts, activists, and organizers — about the impact of the American Rescue Plan and proposed investments in our economic recovery on poverty and opportunity in America. Topics in each episode will cover how new federal proposals can help children and families recover from the hardships they’ve experienced as a result of COVID19, as well as the unique opportunity we have to redress entrenched racial disparities that are holding our nation back. What do changing policies mean for people with low incomes and communities across the country? How far do they get us toward realizing a human needs agenda, where meeting people’s basic needs come first? 

Each episode will focus on a current issue of anti-poverty policy being debated in Washington D.C., including raising the federal minimum wage, making the expanded child tax credit permanent, and investing in affordable housing, will feature local and national experts discussing the particular policy issue, and will inform listeners about how they can get involved with ongoing advocacy campaigns. 

Stay tuned for our first episode discussing the fight to raise the federal minimum wage and learn more about how you can become a better advocate to promote greater equity and justice in your community! You can access our podcast homepage at Anchor, and subscribe to our show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Anchor:

Spotify:

 

Apple Podcasts:

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As activists gather, state legislators continue to advance attacks on voting  https://www.chn.org/voices/as-activists-gather-state-legislators-continue-to-advance-attacks-on-voting/ Fri, 07 May 2021 16:50:27 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7138 On Saturday, voting  rights advocates will gather, in-person or online, in more than 100 communities throughout the country to mark the “National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day.” The actions could not be more timely. Across the country, state legislatures continue to advance barriers to voting, spurred in part by what many are calling the “Big Lie” -- the oft-refuted notion that the November 2020 elections were replete with error and fraud. 

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On Saturday, voting rights advocates will gather, in-person or online, in more than 100 communities throughout the country to mark the “National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day.” The advocates will demand congressional passage of the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, two proposals that would expand access to the ballot box. 

The actions could not be more timely. Across the country, state legislatures continue to advance barriers to voting, spurred in part by what many are calling the “Big Lie” — the oft-refuted notion that the November 2020 elections were replete with error and fraud. 

According to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, as of March 24, state legislators had introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states. That’s 108 more than the 253 restrictive bills the Center counted as of February 19 – a 43 percent increase in little more than a month. 

And a number of these measures have a chance of being enacted. Five already have been signed into law – most notably, in Georgia in late March, and just Thursday of this week in Florida. The states with the greatest number of restrictive bills are Texas (49 bills), Georgia (25 bills), and Arizona (23 bills). The Georgia Legislature already has adjourned; the Texas Legislature is scheduled to adjourn in late May. 

The Brennan Center reports that most restrictive bills are aimed at limiting absentee voting, while nearly a quarter seek stricter voter ID requirements. State legislators also are working to make voter registration harder, expand voter roll purges or adopt flawed practices that would risk improper purges, and cut back on early voting. 

In Florida on Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that adds hurdles to voting by mail, restricts the use of drop boxes, and prohibits any actions that could influence those standing in line to vote, which advocates say is a ruse to discourage groups from handing out food or water to voters standing in line in the hot Florida sun. The law was opposed by the Florida Association of Elections Supervisors, the public officials who oversee elections in the state, with all or nearly all 67 of such officials opposing the law.  

Thursday’s enactment of the Florida bill immediately drew the ire of the White House, which called it “built on a lie” and said that the state is moving “in the wrong direction.” 

“The 2020 election was one of the most secure elections in American history,” said Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “There’s no legitimate reason to change the rules right now to make it harder to vote. That’s built on a lie. The only reason to change the rules right now is if you don’t like who voted, and that should be out of bounds.” 

Indeed, a certain sense of irony surrounds the new Florida law in two ways. First, both Democrats and Republicans in Florida have touted the state’s clean elections – there were few claims coming out of the Sunshine State in the November 2020 aftermath that there was something amiss about the way the election was conducted (and the claims that were levied involved the suppression of Black voters). 

Second, Republicans in Florida have spent decades and tens of millions of dollars to build up early voting and voting by mail. (In Florida, absentee voting and mail voting are one and the same.) Now, both Republican political consultants and Republican legislators warn that the new law could spike such efforts. 

Steve Schale, a long-time Democratic consultant in Florida, watched with interest last May when President Trump began a series of tweets viciously attacking mail voting in Florida and elsewhere. 

“MAIL-IN VOTING WILL LEAD TO MASSIVE FRAUD AND ABUSE,” Trump tweeted on May 28, one of dozens of such attacks that he unleashed throughout the year, according to the Washington Post. “IT WILL ALSO LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY. WE CAN NEVER LET THIS TRAGEDY BEFALL OUR NATION.” 

“It was comical to watch Trump light on fire 20 years of Republican work and tens of millions of Republican investment — literally lighting a match to it,” Schale told the Post. “Every time he sent a tweet out, I’d get a text from a Republican operative here in Florida with an eye-roll emoji.” 

In fact, at one point during deliberations over the Florida measure, some GOP lawmakers suggested exempting U.S. military servicemembers and older voters – two voting blocs that, in Florida at least, tend to lean Republican. Other legislators, however, put a stop to the effort, warning that it would run afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. 

Still, the fact that Republican legislators in Tallahassee may have acted to suppress Republican voters comes as little solace to Black leaders, who saw in the legislation vestiges of 20th century Jim Crow laws. Notes the Post: 

“The restrictions proposed by Florida Republicans drew sharp criticism from Black lawmakers there, who rose one after another during a House debate Wednesday to condemn the legislation. 

“They said the bill would make voting particularly difficult for minorities, who more often struggle with transportation and work nonstandard hours in the service sector in Florida’s tourism-dependent economy, relying more heavily on after-hours drop boxes.” 

Also criticizing the legislation was Eliza Sweren-Becker, Counsel in the Democracy Program for the Brennan Center. Within hours of DeSantis’ signature, Sweren-Becker published her own critique on the Center’s web site under the headline, “Florida Enacts Sweeping Voter Suppression Law.” 

It’s worth taking a step back to note that after last year’s general elections, Florida’s officials touted their election process as a great success,” Sweren-Becker wrote. 

Nevertheless, she added, the new, 48-page law “makes a slew of changes to Florida elections, including making voter registration more difficult, modifying rules for observers in ways that could disrupt election administration, and restricting the ability to provide snacks and water to voters waiting in line. 

Two lawsuits against the law were filed in federal court within hours of the law’s signing:  one filed by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matter Fund and others, and another by the Florida NAACP, Disability Rights Florida and Common Cause.

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Help Wanted: Four Million-plus Workers to Care for an Aging America  https://www.chn.org/voices/help-wanted-four-million-plus-workers-to-care-for-an-aging-america/ Wed, 05 May 2021 17:17:45 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7129 Fact: the U.S. birth rate is declining. If the birth rate in 2008 had held steady through today, we would have an additional 5.8 million children in our country. Fact: by 2034, for the first time in U.S. history, Americans over 65 years old will outnumber Americans under 18. This will accelerate the need for people to take care of this aging population. Fact: an acute shortage of home care workers already exists, and without aggressive intervention by federal and state governments as well as the corporate sector, it will get much worse. Fact:  the average hourly wage for a home care worker is about $12 per hour, and one in six lives in poverty. 

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Fact: the U.S. birth rate is declining. If the birth rate in 2008 had held steady through today, we would have an additional 5.8 million children in our country. 

Fact: by 2034, for the first time in U.S. history, Americans over 65 years old will outnumber Americans under 18. This will accelerate the need for people to take care of this aging population. 

Fact: an acute shortage of home care workers already exists, and without aggressive intervention by federal and state governments as well as the corporate sector, it will get much worse. As many as 4 million additional home care workers will be needed in the next decade alone, and 12 to 20 million additional Americans who are aging will need care. 

Fact:  the average hourly wage for a home care worker is about $12 per hour, and one in six lives in poverty. 

Against this backdrop, last month a group of policy experts came together to discuss one of the most important – and all too often neglected – issues facing the U.S. today. They participated in a webinar, sponsored by the Aspen Institute, entitled, Valuing Care: Principles for a Post-Pandemic Care Economy. 

Helping set the state for the discussion was Heather Boushey, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Biden Administration, a CoFounder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and a former economist with the Center for American Progress, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the Economic Policy Institute. 

“We knew that the care economy was in trouble long before the pandemic hit,” Boushey said. “Too few workers have access to paid leave, too few have the right to paid sick days, and too many struggle to afford the kind of quality care their loved ones need. We know that without time to care, families cannot address the day-in, day-out conflicts between work and family. And now these challenges have been unmasked for all to see. This past year has taught us all across the nation how the care economy is the foundation of our economy.” 

President Biden, as part of his American Jobs Plan, has proposed $400 billion in home care. These expanded Medicaid dollars would increase home and community-based care jobs and help improve the salaries of home care workers, provide them with more workplace protections, and help them gain access to unions, among other things. Boushey said providing better working conditions – including higher salaries – would result in a “positive feedback loop” that would improve the lives of workers, clients, and the economy in general. 

By 2034, for the first time in U.S. history, Americans over 65 years old will outnumber Americans under 18.

“We had long known the answer to the twin crises of the lack of good care and the lack of good jobs,” she said. “Investing in the care economy creates a positive feedback loop. Those who need to work outside the home can find care, while those who need to provide that care can find work and good jobs. We also know from the research evidence that quality care goes hand in hand with fair wages.” 

Adria Powell is the President and CEO of Cooperative Home Care Associates, the nation’s largest employee-owned provider of home care workers. She says workers have faced a number of problems during the pandemic, including fears of personal risk, managing increased caseloads in some instances while struggling to care for their own families, and low wages. 

Unlike many workers, home care workers, of course, were unable to work remotely – you can’t feed a client or change their bedsheets over the Internet. “While the majority of this country was going fully remote, we didn’t do that, and we couldn’t do that,” Powell said. “We had to be there. We provide direct services that need to be delivered by human beings, and we had to have workers in clients’ homes, talk to clients about their fears of having workers coming into their homes who have been traveling, potentially on public transportation and they may have been exposed. We had to talk to workers through their fears around going into clients’ homes, where there may be family members who are there, and they don’t know what exposure they’re going to put themselves through.” 

One issue that emerged, Powell said, is that some home care workers opted to collect unemployment benefits because they could earn more by staying home than by going to work and putting themselves and their families at risk. The issue of low pay is one that the panelists participating in the webinar returned to time and again. 

“My issue is that these jobs are not low-wage work, and they need to be compensated in a way that recognizes the essential services that home care workers are delivering,” Powell said. “I had a home care worker who’s a member of our board stand in my office and share that her coworkers chose not to go to work and collect unemployment because they could earn more, they could be safer, they could stay with their children who were attending school remotely….And she looked me in the eyes and she said, ‘I would earn more staying at home too, but I have to work because who else will be able to take care of my clients if I don’t go? They need me and they have no one else’.” 

Tina Tchen is President and CEO of Time’s Up. She formerly served as a lawyer advising companies on gender inequity, sexual harassment, and diversity. She pushed back against critics who say Biden’s proposed $400 billion for home care does not qualify as “infrastructure.” 

If you’re going to talk about investing in roads and bridges to get people to work, nobody can get across those roads or bridges if they don’t have caregiving,” Tchen said. “Folks who are trying to build the roads and bridges can’t get to work to do them unless there is caregiving. Caregiving is as essential to our economic infrastructure as roads and bridges or the electric grid is, because it is the mechanism by which we put people to work. We will invest in caregiving jobs, in jobs that actually can’t be shipped overseas, and will allow somebody else to go to work. So, it is doubly stimulative to the economy.” 

But who should be responsible for paying for caregiving? Tchen said she has seen a sea change in public opinion in response to this question. As recently as 2008, she said, people generally thought individuals were responsible. Today, there is an overwhelming sense that government has a key role to play. \

“I have seen employers come to the table in the last year in ways I have never seen before,” she said. “Because, all of a sudden, these CEOs, they’re stuck with their kids at home. They can’t just go up to the office and ignore what is happening at home. They’re living it themselves. They’re watching their senior women leave the workforce because they can’t manage it. And you’ve got manufacturers telling the Wall Street Journal, as they did this last summer, half of the manufacturers in Philadelphia said they could not field a full day of work on their manufacturing floor because their workers were at home with caregiving responsibilities....So, this is a real turnaround and a shift.” 

It is far from known how much of President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan will become law this year, whether Congress will sign off on $400 billion for caregiving, or even precisely what that plan would look like. But participants in the Aspen Institute webinar seemed confident that the clarion call for more investments in home care and home care workers is a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle. 

“We are on the precipice of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to really make a transformative change in the care infrastructure and economy to benefit all of us,” said Dorian Warren, President, Community Change and Co-Chair, Economic Security Project. “So there’s lots of cases to be made. The thing that everybody here who’s listening or watching can do is, raise your voices and create a strong, bold echo chamber that cannot be ignored when it comes to the care economy.” 

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship, April 30, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-april-30/ Fri, 30 Apr 2021 17:49:00 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7122 The lifting up families and children edition. Fourteen weeks into his term in office, President Biden told the American public Wednesday evening that the twin battles to beat the pandemic and improve the economy are succeeding. “Now -- after just 100 days – I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” Biden said. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setbacks into strength.” But Biden and his team know this is not the time to settle for a return to the pre-pandemic status quo.

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COVID-19 HardshipApril 302021 

The lifting up families and children edition. Fourteen weeks into his term in office, President Biden told the American public Wednesday evening that the twin battles to beat the pandemic and improve the economy are succeeding. “Now — after just 100 days – I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” Biden said. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setbacks into strength.” 

Seen through the lens of the pandemic, a vigorous vaccination campaign, and an improving economy, Biden would appear to be correct in his assertions. The 7-day average for COVID-19 cases was more than 195,000 on January 20, the day Biden was sworn in. On Wednesday, April 28, it had dropped to 52,605, a decline of 26 percent over the previous 14-day period. Some 30 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated; about 43 percent have received at least one dose. On Thursday, it was revealed that economic growth in the U.S. for the first quarter was 1.6 percent, higher than experts had forecast. 

But Biden and his team know this is not the time to settle for a return to the pre-pandemic status quo. The pandemic uncloaked weaknesses in our nation’s workforce – barriers that hold back people of color, women, and workers with low incomes. It is time to tear down these barriers. It is time, in Biden’s words, to turn crisis into opportunity. 

President Biden’s American Families Plan, unveiled Wednesday, is transformative for families, for children, and for lower- and middle-income workers. It would pay for two years of preschool for all children and two years of community college, extending the 12 years of public education Americans now get. It would make it so no struggling family pays more than 7 percent of their income on child care for kids up to the age of 5. It would eventually support up to 12 weeks of family leave. It includes expanded Pell grants, investments in historically black colleges and universities, an extension of the improved Child Tax Credit through 2025 and a permanent expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children, and more nutrition assistance for children. It would lower health care premiums for many. 

To pay for his plan, President Biden would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans by $1.5 trillion over a decade. No one earning less than $400,000 would be affected. The American Families Plan would increase the top income tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent and would eliminate a loophole that allows wealthy Americans to avoid taxes on their wealth by passing it on to their heirs. And Biden would step up IRS enforcement by hiring more agents and investing in new tools and technology. 

Within the next few months, Biden’s plan to lift up families and children and make our workers more competitive in the global economy will begin to move through Congress. We at the Coalition on Human Needs look forward to engaging in a full-court press to build on it and enact it. We hope you will join us. 

  

 

23%/47.4% 

Researchers at Columbia University, releasing updated statistics, project that the American Families Plan would cut overall poverty in the U.S. by 23 percent in 2022 and child poverty by 47.4 percent. Tweet this.

 

1 in 5 

Among households with incomes less than $25,000 with children in public or private school, one in five reported no live contact with teachers (online or in person) . In contrast, fewer than 6 percent of children in households with incomes of $200,000 or more had no live contact with teachers. Tweet this.

 

19% 

The percent of workers in the U.S. with access to paid leave – to care for themselves, a new child, or a family member. Under the American Families Plan, all workers would have access to paid leave. Tweet this.

 

17%/31% 

Expanding access to affordable, high-quality child care to everyone who needs it would increase the number of women with young children working full-time/full-year by about 17 percent, and by about 31 percent for women with no college degree. Tweet this.

 

7.7 million 

As the pandemic intensified in 2020, an estimated 7.7 million Americans lost their employer-sponsored health insurance by June 2020. That also affected 6.9 million dependents. The American Families Plan would make health coverage more affordable. Tweet this.

 

400K/3m 

In the first few months of the pandemic, at least 400,000 children went untested for lead and doctors and nurses ordered 3 million fewer regular childhood vaccinations. 10,000 children with elevated lead levels in 34 states went undiagnosed between January and May 2020, according to a CDC study.

 

700,000 

One large commercial lab reported 700,000 fewer HIV screenings — a 45 percent drop – between March and September 2020 and 5,000 fewer diagnoses, compared to the year before. The fight against HIV has been derailed, experts say, by the focus on COVID-19. Black people make up 13 percent of the nation’s population, but 40 percent of HIV cases.

 

25%/27% 

One-quarter of women say their family’s financial situation is worse today than when the pandemic began, compared to 18 percent of men. And 27 percent of non-whites say they are worse off versus 18 percent of whites.

 

3 in 10 

The number of health care workers who have considered leaving their profession, according to a new poll. About six in ten say stress from the pandemic has harmed their mental health.

 

1.6% 

The amount the U.S. economy grew during the first three months of 2021, reflecting an ambitious COVID-19 vaccination campaign and massive stimulus spending by the federal government.

 

 

 

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CHN: President Biden’s Historic Investments to Secure Our Future  https://www.chn.org/voices/chn-president-bidens-historic-investments-to-secure-our-future/ Thu, 29 Apr 2021 16:07:35 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7119 Over the years, anti-poverty advocates have often been disappointed when political candidates or officials failed to mention the problem of poverty in America in speeches or debates.  Last night was different. President Biden, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, said ‘And, maybe most importantly, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we are on track to cut child poverty in America in half this year.' 

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Editor’s note: The following is a statement by Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs in response to President Biden’s proposed American Families Plan.

“Over the years, anti-poverty advocates have often been disappointed when political candidates or officials failed to mention the problem of poverty in America in speeches or debates. Last night was different. 

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 28: President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress on April 28, 2021. On the eve of his 100th day in office, Biden spoke about his plan to revive America’s economy and health as it continues to recover from a devastating pandemic. (Photo by Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images)

“President Biden, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, said ‘And, maybe most importantly, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we are on track to cut child poverty in America in half this year.’ 

“The President’s American Families Plan would extend that historic achievement into 2022 and likely beyond.  According to poverty researchers at Columbia University, significant expansions of the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, child care assistance, summer nutrition benefits for children, and increased Pell Grants would reduce child poverty by nearly half of projected levels if these provisions were not in place.  These investments are part of a comprehensive approach that will secure our future. 

“The human service providers, faith groups, policy experts and advocates who make up the Coalition on Human Needs agree with the President that our nation is at a critical inflection point.  Millions of Americans have suffered serious losses in the pandemic.  Illness or death of loved ones, loss of work and income, the threat of eviction or utility shut-offs, and widening gaps in education could leave tens of millions behind now and for decades to come.  Instead, President Biden’s American Jobs and Families Plans together would invest to reverse the pandemic’s toll and to meet our obligations to build a better future.   

“President Biden’s investment plans take aim at our most serious problems.  He would create important jobs with decent pay, in home care, child care, infrastructure building (including housing, broadband and transit), education, health care, renewable energy and environmental protection.  These jobs will provide opportunities for people with low incomes, communities of color, and rural and urban areas.  The Plans will do more to make life better for families than anything proposed by a president in the last 50 years.  The substantial increases in child care, preschool, paid family and medical leave, and increased income through the Child Tax Credit will make it possible for parents to work while meeting their families’ needs.  Increased subsidies for health insurance will ease burdens for families.  Similarly, people with disabilities and the aging will benefit greatly from increased availability of home care.  Young people, who often fall permanently behind if they start work during an economic downturn, will be helped by free community college, subsidized jobs, other employment opportunities, and the increased Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children. 

“The President pays for these urgently needed initiatives by requiring profitable corporations and rich individuals to pay their fair share.  His revenue proposals are well-targeted.  There are many other options Congress could also adopt, such as an increase in the estate tax and a financial transactions tax.  We can also save billions by limiting the cost of prescription drugs. It is clear that we can afford the investments President Biden proposes. In fact, we can build on his plans, by making the increased Child Tax Credit permanent, further increasing rental housing vouchers, expanding health coverage further, increased eligibility of immigrants for services and benefits, and improving unemployment insurance. 

“Now that the President has laid out his investment plans, we look to Congress to act.  Federal actions and inactions have for far too long contributed to a growing concentration of wealth in few hands while our families are increasingly insecure and our racial divides shamefully persist.  For the sake of our shared future, Congress must act now to support and build upon the historic investments of the Biden American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.” 

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CHN members praise verdict in George Floyd murder trial but warn that our work is not done  https://www.chn.org/voices/chn-members-praise-verdict-in-george-floyd-murder-trial-but-warn-that-our-work-is-not-done/ Fri, 23 Apr 2021 18:02:38 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7100 CHN member organizations had a lot to say in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder trial. Here is a sampling of their comments. 

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CHN member organizations had a lot to say in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder trial. Here is a sampling of their comments. 

“Let’s be clear: what happened to Daunte Wright, George Floyd, Adam Toledo and countless other Black and Brown men, women and children killed by police officers day-after-day, week-after-week and year-after-year is no accident. It is the criminal legal system is working exactly as intended,” said Leng Leng Chancey, Executive Director 9to5, National Association of Working Women“Working women — especially women of color — and our allies will never stop fighting to disrupt and dismantle white supremacy, state violence, inequality and injustice in all forms.” 

Mara Rudman, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, joined a number of other CHN member groups in repeating their call for Senate passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. 

It is past time for lawmakers at all levels of government to seriously tackle the systemic and ongoing problem of police violence,” she said. “They must strengthen laws to stop police violence, shrink the scope of policing, and empower the voices and leadership of community members to ensure public safety, and—above all—reaffirm that Black lives matter.” 

The Center on Law and Social Policy (CLASP) said the conviction on all counts of the charges against Minneapolis ex-police officer Derek Chauvin “affirms that—despite countless examples of unfair treatment and violence toward the Black community from law enforcement—this time at least a murderer is being held accountable. But there is far more to do to address the systemic racism in policing that has left countless Black families and communities mourning the loss of a loved one who died at the hands of police officers.” 

Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, CEO and President of the Children’s Defense Fundsaid, “Today we mourn. Tonight we dream. Tomorrow, we continue the fight.” 

“We will continue to gather in the coming days. Not to celebrate a verdict, but to mourn the loss of George Floyd,” he said. We grieve the need to pass this way. With the killing of Daunte Wright nearby and thirteen-year-old Adam Toledo cut down in Chicago, we know we will be here again. But, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We gather in power. We love and support one another. We will reimagine public safety in our communities, so our children can play and thrive. 

Keshia Morris Desir, Common Cause Census and Mass Incarceration Project Managersaid Floyd’s murder “is one from a seemingly endless string.” 

“The murder of Daunte Write gunned down just days ago during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb, and the murders of Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and countless other Black and Brown Americans must spur our nation to enact serious and lasting reforms.” 

Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO of Faith in Public Life, welcomed the verdict, but said it does not constitute “real justice.” 

“Justice would be George Floyd still alive and hugging his children,” she said. “Justice would be a policing and criminal justice system that Black families can believe will serve them as well as it serves others. Justice would be communities that Black people can simply exist in without fear.” 

Luis Guardia, President of the Food Research & Action Center, called the verdict “an incredibly important and symbolic moment for the country as we continue the important work of addressing systemic racism, which has been over 400 years in the making.” 

“George Floyd’s death was a horrific display of brutality, and a tragic reminder that shines a spotlight on our nation’s history of killing Black people,” he said. “This is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. No one should wake up every day wondering how they will be impacted by the systemic racism that has plagued our society for far too long.” 

The National Association of Social Workers extended its sympathies to Floyd’s family and friends. 

“We also again request Congress pass policing reform legislation and urge the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act reintroduced by social worker Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA),” the group said. “That legislation has already passed the U.S. House. Despite this legal victory, much work remains to be done on the excessive use of force by law enforcement. There is also an urgent need for reform in how police interact with people from communities of color.” 

Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), said, “George Floyd should be alive. We mourn as his family mourns, and support their efforts to find solace and accountability with this historic verdict.” 

“Jewish values have demanded, and continue to demand, that we fight for a world that honors the irrefutable preciousness of every human being, with just systems and structures to support that,” she said. 

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reformed Judaism, like others expressed pain over the seemingly endless pattern of police killings of people of color. 

“As Reform Jews and people of faith, believing all are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, we demand an end to the systemic targeting of Black and Brown people by law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” he said. 

Wade Henderson, Interim President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said, “Although justice was served today with the conviction of Derek Chauvin, Mr. Floyd cannot be made whole and his family deserves better. We all do.” 

“This is an incredibly important outcome, but this is only one case,” he said. “The need to completely reimagine public safety and develop a system that centers community needs is more urgent now than ever. We must end this culture of impunity.” 

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Join SAVE for All and fight for our human needs agenda  https://www.chn.org/voices/join-save-for-all-and-fight-for-our-human-needs-agenda/ Wed, 21 Apr 2021 17:42:01 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7095 The Coalition on Human Needs is asking local, state, and national groups as well as individuals to become a part of the SAVE for All Campaign. SAVE stands for Strengthening America’s Values and Economy for All. SAVE for All is a campaign of thousands of national, state, and local organizations working to protect important services from harmful federal budget cuts and to save the federal capacity to spur economic recovery and progress for the benefit of all.

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The Coalition on Human Needs is asking local, state, and national groups as well as individuals to become a part of the SAVE for All Campaign. To sign on to the SAVE for All principles, click here. 

What is SAVE for All? 

SAVE stands for Strengthening America’s Values and Economy for All. SAVE for All is a campaign of thousands of national, state, and local organizations working to protect important services from harmful federal budget cuts and to save the federal capacity to spur economic recovery and progress for the benefit of all. The signers of the SAVE for All statement of principles are a broad coalition of advocacy groups, service providers, faith-based organizations, policy experts, labor, and civil rights groups. 

The SAVE for All Campaign develops materials that make the case for the involvement of federal resources, engages grassroots advocates, employs media strategies and contacts members of Congress with messages consistent with the campaign’s four principles. 

To view a two-page document that expounds on these principles, go here. 

How large is the SAVE for All campaign? 

We are seeking groups and individuals to sign on from all 50 states as well as U.S. territories. In 2019, some 1,300 local, state, and national groups signed on to the SAVE for All principles. You can see a copy of our 2019 sign-on statement and a list of the national, state, and local endorsing organizations here. 

Why is SAVE for All right for this time? 

For generations, major problems have been ignored in communities across the country―from hunger to childhood poverty to housing to racial injustice and more. Now, we have an opportunity to deliver real results to millions of people with low and middle-incomes: to make sure we all share in the economic recovery we badly need. 

The COVID pandemic laid bare the ways our country has failed to support opportunities and provide protections for allRacial disparities in deaths and economic devastation stand as an undeniable testament to persistent and historic racial discrimination, structural inequities in access to health care, narrow work opportunities, and housing disparities experienced by people of color and women. 

Our nation’s progress depends on equal rights and opportunities for all. 

We have a once-in-a-generation chance for Congress to pass a transformational economic recovery package that invests in our future and advances our shared priorities. And we can make these critical changes by finally making the rich and corporations pay their fair share in taxes. 

How will joining the SAVE for All Campaign advance a human needs agenda in Congress? 

Week in and week out, members of SAVE for All engage in meetings on Capitol Hill with members of Congress and their staff. Sometimes, SAVE signees from members’ districts join these meetings, either in person or by phone, with their own personal stories of how they have struggled in today’s economy.. Members of Congress increasingly are aware of SAVE’s depth and breadthThey notice.

How do I join SAVE for All? 

Click here. 

 

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CHN’s latest Human Needs Report: Biden’s American Jobs Plan, hate crimes legislation and more https://www.chn.org/voices/chns-latest-human-needs-report-bidens-american-jobs-plan-hate-crime-legislation-and-more/ Mon, 19 Apr 2021 17:47:18 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7085 CHN just released another edition of the Human Needs Report. Read on for a breakdown of what's in President Biden's American Jobs Plan and FY22 budget request, a hate crimes bill moving in Congress, and more.

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CHN just released another edition of the Human Needs Report. Read on for a breakdown of what’s in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and FY22 budget request, a hate crimes bill moving in Congress, and more. Click here to download a PDF of the report.

In This Edition

President Biden’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan includes funding for both the physical infrastructure and the human infrastructure necessary for economic growth. See highlights of the “once-in-a-generation investment,” including those involving workforce development, redressing racial inequities, and more, as well as where the proposal goes from here. READ MORE »

On April 9, the Biden Administration released a summary of its $1.5 trillion Fiscal Year 2022 budget request for annually-appropriated programs. Read on for some of the key components of the request, including highlights from the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and more. READ MORE »

The House passed and President Biden signed into law last week a bill to avert billions of dollars in Medicare cuts during the pandemic. However, much larger cuts may follow after the Senate stripped a provision to waive “pay-as-you-go” requirements. READ MORE »

As crimes and incidents of harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders soar, the Senate last week advanced legislation to strengthen federal efforts to address the hate. At the same time, President Biden announced a key new nomination aimed in part at improving his outreach to the Asian American Pacific Islander community. READ MORE »

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship April 16, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-april-16/ Fri, 16 Apr 2021 17:05:59 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7066 The infrastructure is more than roads and bridges edition. Infrastructure can be physical – roads, bridges, housing, broadband, and safe water, for example. But we also must invest in human infrastructure – care work and job training are prime examples. As the U.S. begins what experts fear could be a long and arduous trek to economic recovery, we have important choices to make. Will we go small, essentially applying a band-aid or two to an economy ravaged by pandemic and recession? Or will we make the sound and robust investments we need to rebuild in a way that would promote opportunity and racial and gender equality and make the post-World War II generations proud? The choice is ours. The path we choose will say much about who we are and our aspirations as a potentially great nation. 

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COVID-19 HardshipApril 16, 2021

The infrastructure is more than roads and bridges edition. Infrastructure can be physical – roads, bridges, housing, broadband, and safe water, for example. But we also must invest in human infrastructure – care work and job training are prime examples. As the U.S. begins what experts fear could be a long and arduous trek to economic recovery, we have important choices to make. Will we go small, essentially applying a band-aid or two to an economy ravaged by pandemic and recession? Or will we make the sound and robust investments we need to rebuild in a way that would promote opportunity and racial and gender equality and make the post-World War II generations proud? The choice is ours. The path we choose will say much about who we are and our aspirations as a potentially great nation. 

Meanwhile, there is good news to share but troubling news as well. The good news? The CDC reports that 24 percent of all Americans are now fully vaccinated, and 38 percent have received at least one shot. The concerning news? Earlier this week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell warned that re-opening the economy too quickly could fuel another rise in COVID-19 cases, arguing that the country has not completely turned the corner and the pandemic still poses great risks to economic recovery. And Anthony Fauci, pressed in a hearing on when restrictions should be lifted, said that should be when new cases are down below 10,000 per day. On April 15, there were over 74,000 new cases, and the 7-day average for new cases was up 8 percent over two weeks before. 

 

 

27% 

The shocking increase in drug overdose deaths during a one-year period that included the first six months of the pandemic, according to new White House data released this month. Between August 2019 and August 2020, 88,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Tweet this.

 

More than 3X

 

Black women are more than three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as white men, a new study finds. Through the pandemic, experts have assumed that men are more likely to die from COVID-19 than women. While this might be true overall, such an outcome does not transcend all racial boundaries. Tweet this.

 

1,400/7

 

The nation’s prisons, jails, and detention centers have been among the most dangerous places when it comes to contracting COVID-19 and dying from it, the New York Times reports. Over the past year, 1,400 new infections and seven deaths were reported, on average, per day in these facilities. Tweet this.

 

+20%/+35%

 

The Tax Policy Center estimates that households making less than $25,000 annually will see an after-tax income gain of 20 percent due to the American Rescue Plan – and about 35 percent if they have children. Tweet this.

 

9 million

 

The number of adults living with children who said their households sometimes/often didn’t have enough to eat during the previous week, or 11.2 percent. That number was higher for Latinx and Black households with children – about 19 percent, or nearly one in five. It was about 7 percent for white households with children and 5 percent for Asian households with children. Tweet this.

 

4 million

 

The number of renters with children who said they were behind in their rent – about 20 percent of renters with children. (For renters in households without children, it was 10 percent.)

 

39%

 

The percent of Americans who say they have postponed at least one major life event because of the pandemic. That includes buying or leasing a car, buying a home, getting married, having a child, or taking another significant step. The rate was 59 percent among Americans aged 18-34, 40 percent among those aged 34-55, and 23 percent among those 55 and older.

 

62% 

The percent of bankruptcies caused by medical bills. Nationally, about a third of Black adults have past-due medical debt, compared to just under a quarter of white adults. In California, 31 percent of people of color have some type of past-due debt in collections, compared to only 19 percent of whites.

 

87% 

The percent of world-wide vaccinations administered in high-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.

 

300 million 

The number of excess vaccine doses the U.S. is expected to have at the end of July, according to a new report released this week.

 

 

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Has the Child Tax Credit finally come of age?  https://www.chn.org/voices/has-the-child-tax-credit-finally-come-of-age/ Thu, 15 Apr 2021 19:14:31 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7065 In 1992, the year Bill Clinton was elected President, the U.S. was struggling to emerge from the worst recession in a decade. But even before Clinton was a blip on any political pundit’s radar screen, something significant happened, the ramifications of which are about to be experienced – and in a very good way. In 1991, the bipartisan National Commission on Children recommended a $1,000 annual tax credit for every child through age 18 in response to slow wage growth, higher costs of living, and a growing tax burden for average households. Even families that earned too little to owe federal income taxes would get the refundable credit.

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In 1992, the year Bill Clinton was elected President, the U.S. was struggling to emerge from the worst recession in a decade. Clinton, whose unofficial campaign mantra was “It’s the economy, stupid!” was a somewhat unlikely victor over incumbent President George H.W. Bush – in the past 80 years of presidential elections, only three incumbents have lost (in addition to 1992, it happened in 1980 and, as readers know, in 2020). 

But even before Clinton was a blip on any political pundit’s radar screen, something significant happened, the ramifications of which are about to be experienced – and in a very good way. 

In 1991, according to Renu Zaretsky, a tax expert and newsletter editor at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, the bipartisan National Commission on Children recommended a $1,000 annual tax credit for every child through age 18 in response to slow wage growth, higher costs of living, and a growing tax burden for average households. Even families that earned too little to owe federal income taxes would get the refundable credit. 

Back in the early 1990s, the proposal never went anywhere – Zaretsky says it was “too ambitious for its time.” 

But the idea was born –and sometimes, being born is all an idea needs. That, and time. 

The first-ever Child Tax Credit in the U.S. was passed in 1997. It was much more conservative than what the National Commission on Children had envisioned. It consisted of a $400-per-child nonrefundable credit for working families for children under age 17. According to Zaretsky, the credit phased out starting with couples filing jointly making $110,000 and for single parents making $75,000. The problem was that because the credit was nonrefundable (it could only be used to offset taxes), it excluded very low-income families – in other words, the folks that could have used it the most. 

Over the next two decades, Zaretsky writes, Congress altered the Child Tax Credit through 11 bills, gradually making it more generous, but not fully refundable. But that was small potatoes compared with what Congress passed this year and President Biden signed as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP). 

Under the ARP, families with children under age 6 can claim a credit of up to $3,600 for each child that age and $3,000 for older children until they turn 18. And the credit is now fully refundable and available to parents who do not work and therefore do not owe federal income taxes. Zaretsky writes that the Child Tax Credit expansion included in the ARP is more progressive and goes farther than what the bipartisan National Commission on Children had originally envisioned back in 1991. 

Elaine Maag, Principal Research Associate for the Tax Policy Center, and Nikhita Airi, Research Assistant, recently wrote an article in which they laid out the changes and benefits of the new Child Tax Credit. 

They say that more than 90 percent of all families with children will receive an average benefit of $4,380. And the lowest income families will receive average benefits on par with middle- and high-income families, a departure from how the credit used to work. 

They explain that the ARP changes the way the CTC is calculated in three important ways: 

  • “The maximum credit increases from $2,000 for each child under age 17 to $3,000 for those ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 for younger children.” 
  • “The CTC will be fully refundable. Low-income parents will qualify for the full benefit even if they do not work. This piece is key for the lowest income children.” 
  • “Children age 17 will be eligible for the refundable benefit. Previously they were allowed no more than $500—the same amount that is still available for families with older children. And it was nonrefundable– it could only be used to offset taxes.” 

Citing research produced by the Urban Institute, the two authors say that when coupled with other major pieces of the American Rescue Plan, child poverty in the U.S. will fall to 6.5 percent – less than half of today’s child poverty rate of 13.7 percent. 

David Wessel, director of The Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, told CBS Evening News that the new Child Tax Credit “is a big deal. It’s one of the most significant steps we’ve taken to lift children out of poverty. In many other countries, the government subsidizes families with children because they are the ultimate investment in the future.” 

Experts expect that the Child Tax Credit will be partially paid out on a monthly basis, rather than claimed once per year when people file their tax returns. A family with two children under 6 would qualify for $7,200 in CTC payments, or $600 per month. 

But there’s a hitch, CBS Evening News reports. The monthly payments will run only from July through December, with the other half of the CTC paid when people file their tax returns. In other words, households would receive six months of monthly income, and then would receive the rest of the CTC through their tax refund. 

And after that, the CTC expansion, which is temporary, will end altogether unless Congress acts, and the CTC will regress to the younger, less mature version of itself – the way it was before the American Rescue Plan was passed. 

Which leads to the question: 

Has the Child Tax Credit finally come of age? Perhaps. But only if Congress agrees to make the new expansions permanent – and keeps millions of children from falling back into poverty. 

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In housing and hunger, a return to decency at last  https://www.chn.org/voices/in-housing-and-hunger-a-return-to-decency-at-last/ Fri, 09 Apr 2021 23:42:30 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7054 In recent weeks, the Biden Administration has taken two major steps that will allow 25,000 mixed-status families to remain in public housing and will help millions of Americans struggling with food insecurity put food on the table. Both steps reverse cruel decisions by the Trump Administration that disproportionately threatened people with low incomes, people of color, immigrants, and children. 

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In recent weeks, the Biden Administration has taken two major steps that will allow 25,000 mixed-status families to remain in public housing and will help millions of Americans struggling with food insecurity put food on the table. Both steps reverse cruel decisions by the Trump Administration that disproportionately threatened people with low incomes, people of color, immigrants, and children. 

Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it is withdrawing proposed regulations issued by the Trump Administration about households with one or more immigrant member either undocumented or otherwise ineligible for subsidized housing (known as mixed-status families). If implemented, the regulations would have forced 25,000 mixed-status families in public housing and Section 8 programs to either separate or face eviction — including 55,000 children. 

According to a statement issued by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the Trump Administration claimed the new policy would have addressed the public housing waiting list backlog, but HUD’s own analysis found that the proposed rule would result in fewer families receiving housing assistance.  Because not everyone in a mixed-status household is eligible for the HUD subsidy, they pay higher rent; losing this rent income would mean HUD would have less money overall in their budget for subsidizing rental units.  

“The withdrawal of this extremely harmful proposal is a win for fair housing – and human decency” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of NLIHC.  

Meanwhile, the Biden Administration said last week that it is reversing a Trump Administration policy that kept millions of Americans from receiving enhanced SNAP benefits that Congress had intended them to have. 

‘Because of the Biden Administration’s action, an estimated 25 million people will receive   more than $1 billion monthly, beginning this month. 

In March of 2020, as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Congress raised households SNAP allotment to the maximum amount for their family size. Some $29 billion in additional benefits have been distributed so far under this provision. 

But the Trump Administration, reflecting its ideological objection to aggressively addressing hunger in the U.S., implemented the legislation in a way that meant 40 percent of the neediest SNAP households saw no increase in their payments. About 40 percent of these households have children, 20 percent have an elderly member, and 15 percent include someone with a disability. 

Nutrition assistance advocates were ecstatic at the reversal. 

“We applaud the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for taking action to improve food relief by providing $1 billion per month in additional food assistance to SNAP participants, making the program more equitable for low-income households in need during the pandemic,” said Luis Guardia, President of the Food Research & Action Center in a statement. “Hunger in this country has spiked dramatically as a result of the public health and economic fallout of COVID-19 and things would be far worse if not for SNAP. Expansion and investment of this critical program will improve the nutrition, health, and well-being of households while getting our economy moving.” 

Experts in the nutrition assistance field say the Biden Administration’s fight against hunger goes farther than just the latest increase in SNAP payments — as significant as that is. 

Jason DeParle, a New York Times reporter and two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize who covers poverty, class and immigration, recently wrote that “the effort to rush more food assistance to more people is notable both for the scale of its ambition and the variety of its legislative and administrative actions.” 

“The campaign has increased food stamps by more than $1 billion a month, provided needy children a dollar a day for snacks, expanded a produce allowance for pregnant women and children, and authorized the largest children’s summer feeding program in history,” DeParle wrote. 

“We haven’t seen an expansion of food assistance of this magnitude since the founding of the modern food stamp program in 1977,” James P. Ziliak, an economist at the University of Kentucky who studies nutrition programs, told DeParle. “It’s a profound change.” 

Another profound change? The Biden Administration is framing its efforts to fight hunger as part of a campaign to address racial inequity. 

Stacy Dean is a senior official at USDA who has long worked as an anti-hunger advocate. “This crisis has revealed how fragile many Americans’ economic lives are and also the inequities of who is struggling the most,” Dean told DeParle. “It’s an incredibly painful picture, and it is even more so for communities of color.” 

Dean is correct. It is an incredibly painful picture. But perhaps we can take solace from an Administration in power that is willing to look at the picture instead of trying to cover it up. 

 

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What we can learn from a Universal Basic Income for the expanded Child Tax Credit https://www.chn.org/voices/what-we-can-learn-from-a-universal-basic-income-for-the-expanded-child-tax-credit/ Thu, 08 Apr 2021 19:24:53 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7052 A basic income pilot in Stockton, California provided $500 monthly payments to 125 residents with no strings attached. From improved family wellbeing and financial stability to an increase in full-time employment, these positive impacts hold hope for the refundable Child Tax Credit (CTC). 

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Editor’s note: Diana Orozco is the Policy Analyst, Income and Work Supports, with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). This piece is cross-posted with permission.

A basic income pilot in Stockton, California provided $500 monthly payments to 125 residents with no strings attached. From improved family wellbeing and financial stability to an increase in full-time employment, these positive impacts hold hope for the refundable Child Tax Credit (CTC).

The CTC in the recently signed American Rescue Plan will provide periodic payments to nearly all families with children so they can use as they see fit. While currently this credit is only available for tax year 2021, the congressional sponsors hope that this will become a permanent provision. It provides families with $250 per child each month ($300 for children under 6).

While public policy has long focused on in-kind benefits such as health insurance or nutritional supports, mayors and advocates have grown increasingly interested in expanding direct cash support through a universal basic income (UBI). That is, a monthly basic income given to everyone regardless of work or income. It has been discussed as an anti-poverty measure to combat the rise of job loss due to automation as well as an anti-racist tool to address persistent racial wealth gaps that have kept families from meeting basic needs. Due to long-standing systemic inequities in employment and housing, Black and Latino workers disproportionately hold jobs in industries paying low wages that have been hit the hardest during the pandemic, affecting a household’s ability to pay for everyday needs.

The first-year results from Stockton’s Economic Empowerment Development (SEED) basic income pilot have shown that families have reduced financial scarcity and opened the door to new opportunities to prepare for the future.

Highlighting that participants experienced less month-to-month income volatility, lower anxiety and improved mental and physical health, this allowed participants to improve their financial stability. For parents, it mitigated constant financial worry allowing them to engage more with their children. Research shows that households with children, particularly households of color, experience greater hardships, compared to those without children. These challenges stemming from the ability to afford enough food and spillover effects of parents’ stress about meeting financial needs. When support and resources to meet those financial needs are tied to complex requirements and administrative burdens, families carry the burden of lost time. The SEED report demonstrated that the $500 monthly support allowed participants to dedicate time to their relationships and activities that weren’t possible before.

Contrary to concerns that cash payments deter employment or job searching, the SEED project showed that there was an increase in full time employment for those that did receive the monthly payment, compared to those who did not. The results also confirmed that participants spent payments on food, home products, utilities and transportation – all everyday needs. Having basic needs met and newly found time, as the monthly income mitigated worries about making ends meet every month, helped reduce the barriers to searching for full time or improved employment opportunities.

As more interest from mayors and advocates in UBI programs increases, the processes and design of the program, as much as the benefits, need to be recognized. The SEED report included recommendations to that end, such as the importance of building strong relationships and centering community voices throughout the whole process, emphasizing consistent communication through phone calls, text messages, and mail to reach everyone. Also reviewing consent and processes of the full program for all participants involved, allowing them to choose their level of involvement throughout the program duration. Trust was key. The pandemic has pushed all of us to reimagine our everyday routines; it’s time we apply that same approach to re-designing how we provide support for communities with low incomes.

We have a lot to build on from the SEED project and other UBI pilots such as the Magnolia Mother’s Trust in Jackson, Mississippi, supporting low-income African American families and Santa Clara’s first UBI pilot supporting youth aging out of foster care. Federal and state agencies should be creating less complex application and requirements and more simplified programs built on trust that families know how to best support their needs. As we move to implement the CTC expansion, we need to document the positive impacts consistent payments have on families, child poverty and make enrollment in the program as simple as possible. Policymakers and advocates should take advantage of the growing momentum of UBI programs to provide quick support to families, without reducing other resources and assets.

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2021 State of America’s Children: ‘Our Children Are Not Immune’  https://www.chn.org/voices/2021-state-of-americas-children-our-children-are-not-immune/ Wed, 07 Apr 2021 15:09:02 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7048 A Black U.S. public school student was suspended every four seconds in 2019, based on a 180-day school year. Every 28 seconds, a Latinx student dropped out of high school. And every 33 minutes, An American Indian/Alaskan Native student was arrested. Those are just some nuggets of information included in the latest State of America’s Children report, an annual report published by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF).

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A Black U.S. public school student was suspended every four seconds in 2019, based on a 180-day school year. Every 28 seconds, a Latinx student dropped out of high school. And every 33 minutes, An American Indian/Alaskan Native student was arrested. 

Those are just some nuggets of information included in the latest State of America’s Children report, an annual report published by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). Most of the data sets included in the report precede the pandemic; however, to their credit, the report’s authors have found both anecdotal and statistical information to make the argument that things have gotten worse for children since the pandemic began – a lot worse. 

This year’s report provides detailed information on 12 issues impacting children’s lives: child population, child poverty, income and wealth inequality, housing and homelessness, child hunger and nutrition, child health, early childhood, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, gun violence, and immigration. 

Here is a look at some of the report’s highlights, taken from the 12 issue categories: 

Child population. In 2020, for the first time ever, children of color made up a majority of children in the U.S. 

Child poverty. More than 10 million children – nearly one in seven (14.4 percent) — lived in poverty in 2019, according to the official federal poverty measure. Almost half of all children living in poverty lived in extreme poverty, which is defined as half the poverty threshold or an annual income of $13,086 for a family of four. “Historic, systemic racism and institutional barriers mean that children of color have been particularly vulnerable to child poverty,” the report states. “Black and Hispanic children experienced some of the highest poverty rates in the country, and 71 percent of children in poverty in 2019 were children of color.” 

Although it may be years before we know the extent to which the coronavirus pandemic has worsened poverty for children, the report’s authors cite statistics reported by researchers at Columbia University in October showing that 8 million Americans – including 2.5 million children – fell into poverty after May 2020, as early rounds of COVID-19 relief – such as stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits – expired. 

Income and wealth inequality. In 2019, the median white family had almost eight times more wealth than the median Black family and five times more than the median Latinx family. Incomes have exploded for the rich, while creeping up slowly for the vast majority of wage earners. “Slow-growing family income means that economic mobility is on the decline and children born into low-income families may grow up to make less money than their parents,” the report states. 

The report notes that during the pandemic, more than half of families with children experienced a job loss or a loss of income, with those losses concentrated at the lower end of income distribution. 

Housing and homelessness. More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, the report found. “Black families are more likely to experience eviction, homelessness, and segregated housing and neighborhoods due to racist policies built into our housing system,” the report states. 

The report found that the pandemic has accelerated the nationwide affordable housing crisis and the racial inequities in housing. “By February 2021, the hardship facing renter families with children was staggering,” the report concludes. “More than a quarter of renter families with children were behind in their rent. In February, nearly four in ten of those families reported little or no confidence in their ability to pay the next month’s rent.” 

Child hunger and nutrition. More than one in seven children lived in food-insecure households before the COVID-19 pandemic. Black and Latinx children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as white children. Nearly one in four Black children (24.1 percent) and one in five Latinx children (19.2 percent) lived in households that did not get enough to eat in 2019, compared with one in nine white children (11 percent). 

Child health. 726,000 children lost health insurance between 2016 and 2019. “In 2019, an estimated 5.7 percent of children under age 19 (nearly 4.4 million) were uninsured – an increase of 320,000 children since 2018,” the report states. “This is the third year in a row the number of uninsured children hagrown and it is the largest increase in more than a decade.” 

The report found that as of February 25, 2021, 3.2 million total child cases of COVID-19 were reported, representing 13.1 percent of all cases. Between February and July 2020, 78 percent of all children who died from COVID-19 were Latinx, Black, and American Indian children, even though they make up only 41 percent of the population. 

Early childhood. In 2019, center-based child care for an infant cost more than public college tuition in 28 states plus D.C. 

Education. 14 million children in 2019 attended schools with police, but no counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker. This is despite evidence that schools with these types of supports “see improved attendance rates, better academic achievement, and higher graduation rates, as well as lower rates of suspension, expulsion, and other disciplinary incidents.” 

The report found that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an educational crisis that will affect this generation for the rest of their lives. “While many school districts provided some distance learning opportunities during the 2019-2020 school year, children with disabilities, children from low-income and unemployed families, children living in rural communities, and children of color faced many barriers to accessing this modified education – including insufficient Internet access, lack of support for online learning due to parent work schedules, and inability to effectively learn via modified formats, among others,” the report states. 

Child welfare. In 2019, 651,505 children were victims of abuse or neglect in the U.S., a decrease of 21,643 compared to the previous year. That means, on average, a child is abused or neglected every 48 seconds, 1,785 children each day. More than half of all child maltreatment cases in 2019 involved children who were six years old or younger, with 14.9 percent of cases involving infants under one. Of these children, 251,359 entered foster care. 

Youth justice. In 2019, 530,581 children were arrested in the U.S. A child or teen was arrested every 59 seconds despite a 67 percent reduction in child arrests between 2009 and 2019. During the 2015-2016 school year alone, there were over 61,000 school arrests and 230,000 referrals to law enforcement, largely overrepresented by students with disabilities, Black students, and Indigenous students. 

As of late February 2021, more than 3,750 young people in juvenile facilities and even more staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19 across 41 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. “The roughly 44,000 incarcerated children across the country are living in fear of COVID-19 and are facing solitary confinement as a form of social distancing, limited access to PPE, limited or no visitations or contact with loved ones, and limited educational and recreational activities,” the report warns. “To date, their needs have been largely ignored by federal lawmakers as they have crafted legislation to respond to the crisis.” 

Gun violence. In 2019, a child or teen was killed with a gun every two hours and 36 minutes. “Gun violence was the leading cause of death for all children and teens ages 1-19, surpassing motor vehicle accidents for the first time in history,” the report states. “Since 1963, nearly 193,000 children and teens have been killed with guns on American soil – more than four times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in action in the Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars combined.” 

Although Black children and teens made up only 14 percent of all children in the U.S. in 2019, the report found that they accounted for 43 percent of all children and gun deaths. 

Immigrant children. One in four children in the U.S. — approximately 18 million – are children of immigrants, and the report finds that many suffered under the Trump Administration in myriad ways. “In direct opposition to children’s well-being, the Trump Administration’s four-year legacy of dangerous, reckless policy choices has created a climate of confusion, fear, and impossible choices,” the report states. “The Administration continuously attacked family unity, a foundational principle of child welfare protected by the U.S. Constitution.” 

In a moving introduction to the report, CDC’s new President and CEO, the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, acknowledges the sweeping changes COVID-19 has inflicted upon all aspects of work life, society, and children – changes that are not yet wholly reflected in the report’s statistics. 

“Every aspect of American life in the social sector has been impacted by these shifts more quickly than data can track; even the most recent available data sets do not fully encompass how this past year has shaped our lives,” he writes. “This, of course, includes our 2021 State of America’s Children report. Because, as one element of the report makes clear ‘Our Children are Not Immune’.” 

And he issues a challenge for readers. 

“Allow this data, compiled by our extraordinary public policy team, to inform your disciplined reflection,” he writes. “But don’t stop there. Pause and imagine a country where flourishing children smile, sing, and dance. Talk to young people about what they desire for their lives. Then gather your neighbors, friends, and colleagues to work together and improve the state of America’s children. We will be with you every step of the way.”

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The Biden Economic Recovery Plan:  A “Once-in-a-Generation” Investment   https://www.chn.org/voices/the-biden-economic-recovery-plan-a-once-in-a-generation-investment/ Fri, 02 Apr 2021 22:54:02 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7044 President Biden is right to call for a “once-in-a-generation investment” to assure that we can build a lasting economic recovery.  Our nation has been buffeted by multiple emergencies in the past year, including the pandemic, natural disasters, and electrical grid failure.  They have all shown how unprepared we are to protect our people, our businesses, and our environment.  We cannot prevent every emergency, but we can and must protect against loss of life and economic catastrophe for millions of people.  We can and must make ourselves more resilient.   

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Editor’s note: The following statement was released Friday, April 2 by Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs: 

“President Biden is right to call for a “once-in-a-generation investment” to assure that we can build a lasting economic recovery.  Our nation has been buffeted by multiple emergencies in the past year, including the pandemic, natural disasters, and electrical grid failure.  They have all shown how unprepared we are to protect our people, our businesses, and our environment.  We cannot prevent every emergency, but we can and must protect against loss of life and economic catastrophe for millions of people.  We can and must make ourselves more resilient.   

“Members of the Coalition on Human Needs understand that there are three intertwined components of sustained recovery:  (1) ensuring that all our people are secure in their housing, health, and other basic needs in order to thrive and contribute in the modern economy; (2) meeting our current and future needs for the foundations of our economy, from physical infrastructure to education to care work; and (3) raising revenues from corporations and the rich who have taken much but given little towards shared prosperity. 

“President Biden’s American Jobs Plan makes essential contributions to these linked components.  It increases our capacity to do vital work in making our water safe, housing more available and affordable, schools, hospitals and child care centers modernized, home care expanded for people with disabilities or aging, and our energy sources safe and renewable.  It focuses help on low-income communities, territories, tribes and communities of color, and invests in training so members of these communities can take the jobs created.  It will enforce worker rights to unionize.  It will invest in 100 percent access to high speed internet, opening up rural areas and low-income urban areas to economic development, education, and improved health and safety.  Taken as a whole, the provisions in the American Jobs Act will generate economic growth by investing in people and communities all too often left out:  communities of color, territories, tribes, and rural areas. 

“Of critical importance, the Jobs Plan raises the corporate income tax and ensures that corporations trying to avoid U.S. taxes by shifting profits overseas will pay at least some minimum amount here.  Some of the damage of lost revenues following the 2017 tax cut legislation will be reversed, and that is most welcome.  This plan does not increase revenues from wealthy individuals; we look forward to fighting hard for those increases.  Billionaires, who have gained well over $1 trillion during the pandemic, must give back so children and youth can escape poverty and people can gain jobs and economic security. 

“We cannot truly sustain the economic rebuilding we need without doing more to build the economic security of individuals and families.  The expanded Child Tax Credit enacted in the American Rescue Plan, estimated to cut child poverty nearly in half for a year, simply cannot be allowed to expire, plunging children back into poverty.  The expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for poor workers without dependent children must also be made permanent.  While the American Jobs Plan will increase the supply of affordable housing and improve child care and hospital facilities, more people will need housing and child care subsidies and nutrition assistance; more Americans will need affordable health coverage and paid leave.  We must do more to ensure that immigrants, who bring so much talent and energy to our country, can receive essential services. We do not hesitate to support these measures because they are morally right.  But they are also essential to economic growth, because people are the true engines of our economic growth. 

“President Biden was also unassailably correct in saying “we have to move now.”  Millions of Americans have suffered terribly in the pandemic. By making the full range of needed investments now, we can prevent their economic losses from becoming permanent and give them the tools to contribute to a prosperous future.”  

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship April 2, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-april-2/ Fri, 02 Apr 2021 17:38:14 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7037 The fourth surge fears edition. “Impending doom.” Those off-script words were issued this week by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky who warned of spring spikes in COVID-19 cases across the country. Already we are seeing rising caseloads in many states, particularly in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Overall, daily infection rates in the U.S. are much higher than they were two weeks ago – although, thankfully, not nearly as high as they were in January, which witnessed the largest death toll so far in the pandemic. 

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COVID-19 HardshipMarch 19, 2021

The fourth surge fears edition. “Impending doom.” Those off-script words were issued this week by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky who warned of spring spikes in COVID-19 cases across the country. Already we are seeing rising caseloads in many states, particularly in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Overall, daily infection rates in the U.S. are much higher than they were two weeks ago – although, thankfully, not nearly as high as they were in January, which witnessed the largest death toll so far in the pandemic. 

The reasons why public health experts such as Dr. Walensky think a fourth surge either has arrived or is imminent are varied. A more contagious variant of COVID-19 (the one first identified in Britain, called B.1.1.7) is spreading. Local officials and governors are lifting restrictions and mask rules. Many Americans are behaving less cautiously. On Thursday, the Opening Day of Major League Baseball, the Texas Rangers planned to allow full attendance at their ballpark. Although every American 16 years and older will soon be eligible to receive a vaccination, the roll-out right now has not occurred in sufficient numbers to arrest the pandemic’s spread – so far, just over one in three Americans has received at least the first dose, far short of what is needed to achieve herd immunity. 

Meanwhile, a new CDC report issued Wednesday, March 31 reveals that COVID-19 was the third underlying cause of death in 2020, after heart disease and cancer. Approximately 375,000 COVID-19-related deaths were reported in 2020 in the U.S., and death rates were generally twice as high among American Indian and Alaskan Native persons, Latinx, Blacks, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander persons than among whites. 

On a happier note, President Biden this week began unveiling his economic recovery plan. We’ll be writing more about that in future editions of COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship. But for now, suffice it to say, Biden’s plan will build upon the American Rescue Plan to put our nation back to work. Rebuilding both our human and physical infrastructure is the best way to create jobs and get the economy moving. Done right, it can also address racial and income inequality, and create a more fair economy, with opportunity for more Americans. 

 

65,574 

The average number of nationwide COVID-19 cases per day for the 7-day period ending Thursday, April1. That’s a 20 percent increase from the average two weeks earlier. Tweet this. 

 

More than 2,300 

The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Michigan as of Thursday, April 1. That’s more than double since the beginning of March. Tweet this.

 

68% 

The number of Americans satisfied with the vaccine roll-out in March, according to a new Gallup poll. That’s up 24 percentage points since February and 34 percentage points since January. And 74 percent of Americans now say they are willing to be vaccinated, an all-time high since the pandemic began. Tweet this.

 

22% 

The unemployment rate in February among workers who had been in the bottom 25 percent of wage earners, compared to an overall rate of 6.2 percent, according to a speech last week delivered by Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard. Tweet this.

  

3.1 million 

The number of leisure and hospitality jobs lost from March 2020 to March 2021 , nearly 15%. (But over the past month, 280,000 jobs were added in this sector, so progress is starting.) Tweet this.

 

 

73%/32%/13% 

New U.S. Census data released this week demonstrate a direct correlation between income levels and the ability to telework. 73.1 percent of households earning $200,000 or more reported that at least one member of the household was able to work from home. For households earning $50,000-$75,000, it was 32.1 percent; for households under $25,000, it was only 12.7 percent.

 

10 million 

The number of U.S. mothers living with their school-aged children who were not working in January. That’s 1.4 million more than in January 2020.

 

Nearly 200 

The number of businesses that signed a letter in late March calling on Congress to pass paid and more expansive family leave as part of the upcoming economic recovery package.

 

-23.6 million

The number of people unemployed, underemployed, or out of the labor force because of the pandemic downturn, as calculated by the Economic Policy Institute. 

 

31.5% 

The percent of American adults who report the likelihood of eviction or foreclosure in the next two months is somewhat or very high, according to the same data. The Biden Administration has extended a CDC moratorium on evictions, but landlords may still initiate eviction proceedings in court in many places.

 

 

 

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As anti-voter measures flood state legislatures, activists search for ways to reverse the tide  https://www.chn.org/voices/as-anti-voter-measures-flood-state-legislatures-activists-search-for-ways-to-reverse-the-tide/ Fri, 02 Apr 2021 13:19:57 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7036 As a number of swing and Republican-leaning states rush to consider legislation that would make it harder to cast ballots, pro-voter advocates increasingly are calling for corporations to weigh in against the measures – and are urging boycotts if they don’t. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, as of Feb. 19, 2021, legislators in 43 states have carried over, prefiled, or introduced more than 250 bills that would make it harder to vote – more than seven times the number of restrictive bills compared to roughly this time last year. 

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Groups in Georgia are launching a new campaign urging Cola-Cola and other corporations to oppose legislation that would curb access to voting.

As a number of swing and Republican-leaning states rush to consider legislation that would make it harder to cast ballots, pro-voter advocates increasingly are calling for corporations to weigh in against the measures – and are urging boycotts if they don’t. 

Last week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that introduced more stringent voter ID requirements for absentee balloting, limited drop boxes, expanded the state legislature’s power over elections, and made it a crime to provide food and water to voters forced to wait in lines outside of polling stations. Though the bill was not entirely as awful as it could have been (an earlier version, for example, eliminated no-excuse absentee voting, which Georgia has had for 16 years), that is of little consolation to advocates who view the voter restrictions as a direct attack on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous voters. 

According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York Universityas of Feb. 19, 2021, legislators in 43 states have carried over, prefiled, or introduced more than 250 bills that would make it harder to vote – more than seven times the number of restrictive bills compared to roughly this time last year. 

The news is not all bad: the Brennan Center also found that in a different set of 43 states, pro-voter legislators have introduced more than 700 bills that would make it easier to vote – often by expanding access to mail voting and early voting, making voter registration easier, and restoring voting rights to people with past convictions. 

But it is swing-state Georgia – and, increasingly, Arizona and Texas – that is drawing the ire of activists. They note that corporations were quick to condemn systemic racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, but largely have been silent when it comes to opposing legislation that threatens the ability of many to cast ballots. 

“We are all frustrated with these companies that claim that they are standing with the Black community around racial justice and racial equality,” LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told The New York Times. “This shows that they lack a real commitment to racial equity. They are complicit in their silence.” 

Just hours after Kemp signed the Georgia legislation into law, activists gathered at Atlanta’s busy Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to call for a boycott of Delta, the state’s largest employer. Other activists have targeted Coca-Cola and Home Depot, and billboards have popped up around Atlanta’s major highways pressuring the corporate monoliths. 

The calls for boycotts have extended to popular sporting events – some say Major League Baseball should pull its All-Star Game out of Atlanta this summer; the National Black Justice Coalition has called for moving the venerable Masters Tournament out of Augusta. 

Update: late this week, a number of corporate leaders, including CEOs of Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, sharply condemned the new Georgia law. While some activists welcomed this condemnation, others described it as too little, too late — and questioned why the corporations had not intervened before the bill was passed and signed into law.

Update II: Friday afternoon, Major League Baseball announced it is pulling this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta, a major victory for voters’ rights advocates. The game had been scheduled for July 13 at the Atlanta Braves’ Trust Park.

Meanwhile, in an interview published on the Brennan Center’s website, the Center’s Myrna Perez, Director, Voting Rights & Elections, explains what the Georgia legislation is all about. 

“We are seeing politicians continue to propagate the Big Lie that there was widespread voter fraud during the November 2020 election,” she said. “It’s clear that some politicians in Georgia would prefer to manipulate the rules of the game — so that some voters can participate and some voters can’t — rather than to compete for votes. And that is backwards. Voters should be choosing their politicians, not the other way around.” 

Perez continued: “What we actually saw in Georgia during the 2020 election was massive turnout under really trying conditions. Georgia voters said in a very clear voice that they cared about their right to vote, and that they were going to exercise it. And the reaction to that reflected much of the rhetoric that inspired the violent insurrection that we saw earlier in the year.” 

One way to defeat the newly enacted Georgia bill – and onerous bills pending in other states – is through the courts. Already, two lawsuits have been filed in federal court challenging the Georgia legislation. 

The latest lawsuit, dated March 28 and announced earlier this week, was filed by a coalition of civil rights groups led by the NAACP. That lawsuit alleges “intentional discrimination” against the state’s Black voters. It says the Georgia law “is the culmination of a concerted effort to suppress the participation of Black voters and other voters of color by the Republican State Senate, State House, and governor.” 

The lawsuit states that “detailed records” on “the racial demographics of voting” maintained by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office were used in drafting the legislation. 

“Unable to stem the tide of these demographic changes or change the voting patterns of voters of color, these officials have resorted to attempting to suppress the vote of Black voters and other voters of color in order to maintain the tenuous hold that the Republican Party has in Georgia,” the lawsuit states. “In other words, these officials are using racial discrimination as a means of achieving a partisan end.” 

Ultimately, the litigation could take years to resolve – and, given the current composition of the U.S. Supreme Court, a positive outcome is anything but certain. 

But the Brennan Center’s Myrna Perez said there is a quicker way to address anti-voter legislation in Georgia and elsewhere: pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would help protect voters from racial discrimination and vote suppression by restoring and strengthening the protections of the Voting Rights Act. And pass the For The People Act, which sets a minimum floor for access to federal elections for Americans, irrespective of what state they live in. 

New polling released Wednesday, March 31 and commissioned by a coalition of pro-voter groups indicates that reforms to protect voter rights are immensely popular among the public – even among conservatives. “Fair elections” and “freedom to vote” were among the top three priorities mentioned by respondents, along with jobs and the economy (and outpacing health care, an issue which usually shows up in the top three). 

Both measures cited by the Brennan Center are pending in Congress and are expected to move this summer into fall. “If enacted,” Perez said, they “would make voting more accessible.” 

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How the American Rescue Plan will help domestic abuse survivors  https://www.chn.org/voices/how-the-american-rescue-plan-will-help-domestic-abuse-survivors/ Thu, 01 Apr 2021 19:02:44 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7034 The first time, Davida’s boyfriend hit her, she did exactly what experts say a person in her situation should do: she called the police. The 38-year-old North Carolina woman left the apartment they shared, filed a complaint in court, and obtained a protective order. Today, with the help of a career-readiness program at Sanctuary for Families, a shelter and service provider, Davida has succeeded in turning an internship into a part-time job. But a year after her boyfriend upended Davida and her son’s lives with a single wanton act of violence, she and her son are still homeless. “Every day I wake up, I’m starting over,” she said. 

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The first time, Davida’s boyfriend hit her, she did exactly what experts say a person in her situation should do: she called the police. The 38-year-old North Carolina woman left the apartment they shared, filed a complaint in court, and obtained a protective order. 

After her boyfriend threatened to kill her, Davida – who shared her story with The New York Times – fled with her son. She ended up in a shelter in another state. The move was costly — she lost her North Carolina job at a call center just before the pandemic hit. Today, with the help of a career-readiness program at Sanctuary for Families, a shelter and service provider, Davida has succeeded in turning an internship into a part-time job. But a year after her boyfriend upended Davida and her son’s lives with a single wanton act of violence, she and her son are still homeless. “Every day I wake up, I’m starting over,” she said. 

For women – and others – like Davida, help is on its way. The recently passed American Rescue Plan includes almost $50 million in aid for service providers who assist survivors of domestic abuse. It also includes hundreds of millions of dollars in housing assistance for survivors who have been trapped during the pandemic with their abusers. That pool of money will be drawn from $5 billion in housing vouchers for several at-risk demographic groups, including those fleeing abuse, assault, dating violence and human trafficking. The vouchers will help address the fact that the vast financial burden of leaving an abusive relationship often begins with housing. And the aid is long-term — resources in the rescue plan for emergency housing assistance are to remain available until 2030. 

Advocates hailed passage of the American Rescue Plan. 

“A year into the pandemic, many survivors are navigating more severe abuse with fewer resources,” said Deborah J. Vagins, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), a CHN member group. “During the pandemic, domestic violence programs have stayed open, pivoting and working tirelessly to respond to survivors’ needs. They are doing so, however, with shrinking funds in high-stress environments. The American Rescue Plan will provide a much-needed cash infusion to programs that are sheltering and supporting survivors and their children.” 

According to NNEDV, the American Rescue Plan provides: 

  • $180 million in Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) funds for desperately-needed emergency shelter, housing, and other emergency supports in every state and territory. 
  • $18 million for tribes to support domestic violence survivors as they face  disparate impacts from   COVID-19. 
  • Almost $50 million for culturally specific services for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in order to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. 

Advocates are particularly pleased with the almost $50 million aimed at addressing domestic abuse and sexual assault within communities of color. The need for such funding was originally envisioned by Ujima and the National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Violence. “We advocated for this program as part of our 2020 Advocacy Days and are thrilled to see it in the final bill,” NNEDV said in an email to its allies.  

Karma Cottman, Executive Director of Ujima, said COVID-19 exposed social and economic inequities that often allow domestic abuse to thrive, as lockdown restrictions led to more instances of violence. For many communities, Cottman told the Times, it was a “double pandemic. 

 “For us, imagining that we will have folks in the White House paying attention, not only to violence against women but to these intersections — it is a deep sigh of relief,” Cottman said. 

The legislation also helps domestic abuse survivors in countless other ways. A common theme running through domestic abuse scenarios is housing challenges, unemployment, and difficulties meeting basic household expenses, such as feeding the family and affordable child care. Many aspects of the legislation – the $1,400 stimulus checks, extended UI assistance, expanded Child Tax Credit, and funding for child care – will combine to help victims of domestic abuse. 

Abuse is a broad problem that affects one in four women in the U.S., one in seven men, and countless children, according to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. And experts say incidents of domestic abuse spiked worldwide just weeks into the shutdowns caused by the pandemic last April. 

Indeed, those who advocate on behalf of survivors of domestic abuse say there has been a cultural shift in the way the Biden Administration views the issue, compared with the previous Administration. Many advocates believe former President Trump’s policies were overtly hostile toward domestic violence concerns. A prime example: for the first time ever, under Trump’s watch, Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which Biden himself sponsored as a member of the U.S. Senate decades ago. (The House voted 244-172 to renew VAWA earlier this month.) 

For her part, Cottman believes that the Biden Administration’s focus on domestic abuse is a welcome shift, the Times reports. The newspaper adds that after years in which providers struggled to gain public attention and protect dwindling budgets, they can begin to think bigger about how to help survivors. 

“We are able to really think about, what are the things that our communities need?” Cottman said. “What are the pieces that we can reimagine, while at the same time maintaining funds for core services? You can’t do any of this, without ensuring victims and survivors have places to go.” 

 

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Survey: White students much more likely to receive in-person learning during pandemic  https://www.chn.org/voices/survey-white-students-much-more-likely-to-receive-in-person-learning-during-pandemic/ Fri, 26 Mar 2021 18:12:59 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7031 White students are much more likely to be receiving in-person learning than minority students, revealing yet another form of racial disparity during the pandemic, stark new data released this week show. The U.S. Department of Education this week released the first in a series of school surveys aimed at providing a national view of learning during the pandemic. The survey showed that the percentage of students still attending school virtually may be higher than previously thought. 

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White students are much more likely to be receiving in-person learning than minority students, revealing yet another form of racial disparity during the pandemic, stark new data released this week show. 

The U.S. Department of Education this week released the first in a series of school surveys aimed at providing a national view of learning during the pandemic. The survey showed that the percentage of students still attending school virtually may be higher than previously thought. 

The surveys are being conducted in response to a series of executive actions issued by the Biden Administration on Biden’s first day in office. Those actions were aimed at encouraging schools to re-open safely. Previously, the Trump Administration had resisted gathering data on what types of learning schools were offering during the pandemic. “I’m not sure there’s a role at the department to collect and compile that research,” former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said last October. 

The new survey found that 43 percent of fourth-grade students and 48 percent of eighth-grade students were engaged in fully remote learning, as of late January and early February. 68 percent of Asian American students, 58 percent of Black students and 56 percent of Latinx fourth-grade students were learning entirely remotely, compared to just 27 percent of white students. 

Conversely, nearly half of white fourth-grade students were learning full-time in person, compared with just 15 percent of Asian American students, 28 percent of Black students and 33 percent of Latinx students. (The numbers do not add up to 100 percent because some students are learning through a hybrid of in-person and online activities.) 

The disparity may in part be driven by geography. The survey found that urban schools were less likely than rural schools to offer full-time, in-person schooling. Such schooling was predominant in the South and the Midwest, but much less common in the West and Northeast. 

The survey, which is being conducted monthly through at least July, found other inequities. For example, although more than four in 10 school districts said they are prioritizing students with disabilities for in-person learning, 38 percent of fourth-grade students with disabilities remained remote, compared with 43 percent overall. 

The survey also asked how many hours of live video instruction schools are offering when students are learning remotely. Most schools said they are offering more than three hours of video instruction a day. But 10 percent of eighth-grade students and 5 percent of fourth-grade students said they were getting no live instruction when learning remotely.  

 

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Hunger in the U.S. Military: ‘Families have been struggling with this for a long time’  https://www.chn.org/voices/hunger-in-the-u-s-military-families-have-been-struggling-with-this-for-a-long-time/ Tue, 23 Mar 2021 19:39:07 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7026 COVID-19 has caused hardship among the nation’s vulnerable, but a surprising issue is coming to the forefront that has been festering for many years; hunger in military families. CBS News shared the story of Kay, a military spouse, who recently traveled to a food bank to feed her family of six. "It lasts a couple of days, maybe just because there are so many of us in the house," said Kay. "I cannot feed my kids. I cannot make this vehicle payment because I had to feed my kids. It's just unacceptable, really,"  

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COVID-19 has caused hardship among the nation’s vulnerable, but a surprising issue is coming to the forefront that has been festering for many years; hunger in military families.  

CBS News shared the story of Kay, a military spouse, who recently traveled to a food bank to feed her family of six.  

“It lasts a couple of days, maybe just because there are so many of us in the house,” said Kay.  

Her husband works at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. His take-home pay is roughly $3,000 a month, which falls short of their family’s expenses.  

“I cannot feed my kids. I cannot make this vehicle payment because I had to feed my kids. It’s just unacceptable, really,” Kay said.  

This story caused such outrage among news viewers that CBS raised approximately $300,000 to support local food banks after the piece aired. They are not alone in their outrage that service member families are going hungry.  

“There is something that’s so unjust about it that the families who are making significant sacrifices for our country, and are not able to fully meet their basic needs,” Josh Protas, Vice President of Public Policy at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, told The New York Times. “The charitable sector doesn’t have the capacity to fully address this issue — nor should it. I really think the Pentagon has really tried to sweep this under the rug.” 

COVID-19 has caused hardship among the nation’s vulnerable, but a surprising issue is coming to the forefront that has been festering for many years; hunger in military families. 

Nearly 40 percent of active-duty service members have experienced food insecurity due to the pandemic, but the baseline rate of hunger in this community was already hovering around 15 percentAfter years of resistance, military families are now more willing to ask for help, such as seeking assistance from food banks.  

“We know that families have been struggling with this for a long time, but they have often done so quietly. But now we’re starting to see families open up a little bit more and seek out that support, which is really good news,” Shannon Razsadin,  Executive Director of the Military Family Advisory Network, told CBS. 

Multiple reasons exist why military families are particularly susceptible to hunger. One of the main difficulties is rooted in the mobile nature of domestic military work that has made already limited employment opportunities for spouses all the more difficult. 

“What many people don’t know is that military families move, on average, every two and a half years. And every time families move, there’s a complete restart. That means looking for a new job, finding new child care, getting set up with new schools, finding a new home,” Razsadin said. “And with COVID, families have continued to move. And when you move in a market where you maybe don’t have as many housing options or the employment situation isn’t what it used to be, it has really created additional problems for military families.” 

In addition, service families are more likely to have larger families. With school lunch programs suspended or operated with restrictions, a key support is no longer accessible and families are left with minimal resources aside from food banks to make ends meet.  

Furthermore, not even all military families are currently eligible for nutritional programs. This is due to the structure of housing subsidies given to families that live off the main base; they receive an income supplement to pay for rent, which sometimes places them above eligibility cutoffs despite their obvious need. Service members who live in housing provided on the base do not get this extra income for rent, and are more likely to qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. 

The Pentagon has brushed off this issue, saying most military personnel do not encounter food insecurity. 

“Military members are very well paid,” said Major César Santiago, citing a recent study conducted by RAND National Defense Research Institute. “Junior enlisted members, on average, are paid better than 90 percent of the adult working population with a high school education and similar years of experience in the work force. The issue of food insecurity has been examined and found to be minimal in the military.” 

With the Pentagon’s refusal to address the problem and the increasing strain on nonprofit organizations to fill growing gaps, Congress has stepped up.  

In terms of long-term solutions for military hunger, bipartisan legislation was recently proposed to expand nutrition benefits targeted at military families. The Military Dependents School Meal Eligibility Act aims to automatically enroll children of eligible service members into school meal programs. 

The American Rescue Plan tackles nutritional support and child well-being broadly, with key measures that will assist all families but will provide  needed relief for military families. The Child Tax Credit provides additional income per child, which will be beneficial for  struggling large families. The act also provides an additional $12 billion in food assistance through SNAP.  

 

 

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship March 19, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-march-19/ Fri, 19 Mar 2021 19:01:25 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7018 The shot in the arm edition. More than one in five Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination; that number is slowly climbing toward one in four. But it is not just tens of millions of Americans who are receiving a shot in the arm – so is our economy, thanks to the American Rescue Plan. 

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COVID-19 HardshipMarch 19, 2021

The shot in the arm edition. More than one in five Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination; that number is slowly climbing toward one in four. But it is not just tens of millions of Americans who are receiving a shot in the arm – so is our economy, thanks to the American Rescue Plan. 

Already, the IRS has sent out more than 90 million stimulus checks. Unemployment benefits are starting to be paid – that includes weekly payments of $300 that will go into the economy soon after they’re received; they won’t be saved or invested in the stock market. In July, single parents making less than $75,000 and couples making less than $150,000 will start to receive half of their $3,000 – $3,600 per child tax credits, paid in installments (monthly if the IRS can manage it; otherwise at longer intervals), with the rest to be received as a refund payment at tax time. 

The American Rescue Plan offers hope for those living on the edge. For example, it provides $5 billion in homelessness assistance, more than $21 billion in emergency rental assistance, $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers for those at risk of homelessness. This aid is urgently needed if we are to avoid a national calamity of evictions and increased homelessness, with the attendant spread of COVID-19 that results from more crowded living conditions. 

The pandemic has led to another kind of virulence – acts of hatred against Asian American and Pacific Islander people.  Anti-Asian hate crimes rose nearly 150 percent in 2020, according to one report. 

With the arrival of spring this Saturday, and reports of declining COVID-19 caseloads, Americans are anxious to get out and about. But public health officials are urging caution. While it may be true that total U.S. daily infection rates have declined compared with two weeks ago, new reports are popping up about spikes in individual states – Michigan in particular is being hit hard.  But it’s not just one state:  as of March 18, 18 states plus Puerto Rico were showing increases in their caseloads compared to two weeks before, according to the New York Times. 

That is why it is good news that the American Rescue Plan contains billions of dollars to fight the pandemic – everything from facilitating vaccinations to testing and contact tracing to needed PPE and cleaning supplies and new air filtration systems for our schools. 

The poet Robert Frost wrote, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” 

We are not out of the woods yet. 

 

3,795 

The number of incidents of harassment and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the past year, according to a new report released this week by Stop AAPI Hate. The group says the actual number could be much higher. Tweet this.

9.5 million

 

The number of Americans behind in their rent payments, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More than one in four renters with children were behind. A CDC moratorium on evictions is set to expire on March 31, and experts fear that one million evictions could be filed shortly thereafter. Tweet this.

 

Nearly 4X

 

New York City landlords are seeking evictions nearly four times more often in the very neighborhoods with the highest COVID-19 death rates – neighborhoods predominantly home to Blacks and Latinx residents. About 40,000 residential tenants have been taken to court for eviction proceedings since late March of 2020, with an average claim of $8,150. Tweet this.

 

580,000

 

The number of homeless Americans during one night in January 2020, according to figures released Thursday, March 18 by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That number, a 2 percent increase from the previous year, was before the pandemic began, and experts warn the problem has since gotten worse. Tweet this.

 

More than 20,000

 

The estimated number of child care centers that have closed in the U.S. since the pandemic began. No one knows how many will re-open.  However, the American Rescue Plan’s $24b in funds to stabilize the child care industry plus $15b in new child care assistance funds will likely help a lot. Tweet this.

  

$9,589

 

The average annual cost of child care for a child under 4. It’s pricier in big cities – in Washington, D.C., the average annual cost for an infant is more than $24,000.

 

57%

 

The percent of women who are either working or looking for work. This is the lowest percentage of women in the workforce since 1988, or 33 years ago. Of course, a major reason why is the lack of affordable child care during the pandemic.

 

5.5X

 

In California, the state with the largest Latinx population, Latinx people aged 35 to 49 died of COVID-19 at more than 5 and ½ times the rate of white people the same age. Put another way: 35- to 49-year-old Latinx people make up 41.5 percent of people in that age group in California, but account for about 74 percent of deaths.

 

More than 90%

 

The percent of households with children under the age of 18 who will benefit from the increased  Child Tax Credit.

 

100 million

 

By Friday, March 19 — President Biden’s 58th day in office —  100 million vaccinations will have been administered in the U.S.; Biden had initially pledged 100 million doses in his first 100 days.

 

 

 

 

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People of conscience must speak out and take action against hate https://www.chn.org/voices/people-of-conscience-must-speak-out-and-take-action-against-hate/ Fri, 19 Mar 2021 17:43:17 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7020 The Coalition on Human Needs stands with the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and with people of conscience throughout our nation in outrage and grief over the hateful killings of eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in Atlanta.  

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Editor’s note: Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, issued the following statement Friday, March 19 in response to the Atlanta killings of 8 people, including 6 Asian women of Asian descent:

The Coalition on Human Needs stands with the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and with people of conscience throughout our nation in outrage and grief over the hateful killings of eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in Atlanta.

We do not know everything about the mental state of the perpetrator, and urge a thorough investigation. This heinous act must be seen in the context of increasing acts of hatred against women and Asians. There has been a nearly 150 percent increase in the number of hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander people in 2020, with close to 3,800 cases documented. We have seen high officials of government, prominently including the former president, and media personalities despicably exploit ignorance and hatred in the pandemic. Virulent rhetoric begets violence. This must stop.

As has been said over and over again in the aftermath of more precious lives lost to hate, thoughts and prayers are not enough. The nation needs vigorous prosecution of anti-hate crime law, which should be strengthened at the federal level. Legislation to limit gun violence is badly needed. Public figures must be held accountable for exploiting and fomenting bigotry. People of conscience must speak out and take action against hate. Just as public hate speech and discriminatory government actions can lead to violent acts, holding leaders accountable and stronger laws can reduce the threat of violence.

In standing with the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, the Coalition on Human Needs is co-sponsoring the DC Rally for Collective Safety, on Sunday, March 21, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET, in Washington DC’s McPherson Square (Facebook Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/3745475435565938).

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How the American Rescue Plan will save the child care industry and put women back to work  https://www.chn.org/voices/how-the-american-rescue-plan-will-save-the-child-care-industry-and-put-women-back-to-work/ Wed, 17 Mar 2021 15:56:31 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7017 Almost exactly one year ago, Kate Aronoff’s child care center closed due to COVID-19. She thought it would be closed for two weeks, and then her 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter would be able to return. But then Kate and her husband, who live in the small college town of Corvallis, Oregon, learned it was closing permanently. “We started calling around to all of the child care centers in our small-ish town to see who might have space and were able to get my children enrolled in another day care. However, two weeks later, we learned that that day care was also closing permanently, which was another big blow.” 

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Almost exactly one year ago, Kate Aronoff’s child care center closed due to COVID-19. She thought it would be closed for two weeks, and then her 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter would be able to return. But then Kate and her husband, who live in the small college town of Corvallis, Oregon, learned it was closing permanently. 

“That was a sad bit of news and also anxiety-provoking, because we didn’t know what we were going to do,” says Aronoff, who shared her story with Child Care Aware of America in a YouTube video. “We started calling around to all of the child care centers in our small-ish town to see who might have space and were able to get my children enrolled in another day care. However, two weeks later, we learned that that day care was also closing permanently, which was another big blow.” 

Aronoff and her husband both are able to work from home during the pandemic; he does marketing for a local university and she is a mental health counselor who these days does sessions online. But she has no lock on her door in the room she works out of, and her children would occasionally burst in and interrupt confidential sessions with clients. 

The situation was not optimal. “Working from home and watching our kids was not going to be an option,” she says. 

Aronoff was much luckier than most. Eventually, she was able to hire a worker from the first permanently closed child care center to watch her kids on a part-time basis. She is probably more the exception than the rule in this regard. 

By April of 2020, 330,000 child care jobs had been lost – one in every six in the U.S. Between 30 and 50 percent of all child care centers in the country are closed today, according to Child Care Aware, and no one knows how many will come backAn estimated 2.2 million women have left the workforce entirely, mainly because of caregiving issues. The hit to their collective pocketbook: As much as $64.5 billion in lost wages and economic activity. 

Now help is on the way, and it is historic.  

In what the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) calls “the most significant investment in the sector since World War II,” the recently enacted American Rescue Plan will channel almost $40 billion to rebuilding the child care industry, an industry that already was in crisis even before the pandemic hit. 

According to CLASP, nearly $15 billion of the new funding will provide expanded child care assistance through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to support families and providers, including supporting the child care needs of essential workers. The remaining nearly $24 billion creates a stabilization fund for eligible child care providers, including those who haven’t previously received funding through CCDBG. Administered by state lead agencies, these funds can support providers who are currently operating or are closed for COVID-19-related reasons. These funds also can stabilize child care programs by covering a range of expenses such as personnel costs, rent, facility maintenance and improvements, personal protective equipment, and COVID-related supplies, goods and services needed to resume providing care, mental health supports for children and early educators, and reimbursement costs associated with the pandemic. 

(To see a helpful CLASP chart laying out how much money each state will receive, go here.) 

Re-opening child care centers will help a variety of Americans. It will help women (particularly single mothers) return to the work force. It will help women – particularly Black and Latinx women – who disproportionately staff the centers. It will help the kids who depend on the care. 

In a recent interview with National Public Radio, Carol Burnett, who advocates for child care centers as Executive Director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative, called the money “a game changer” for mothers in a state that ranks near the bottom when it comes to poverty. 

“The moms that we work with – whether they’re trying to get out of a domestic violence situation, to move to economic security, whether they’re trying to get out of poverty, whether they’re trying to get out of a job where there is no pathway to higher income above minimum wage – child care is the support service they most need and making child care affordable for them,” Burnett said. 

Astonishingly, the funds allocated for child care in the American Rescue Plan are enough for Mississippi to serve 80 percent of children who qualify for support – up sharply from the 28 percent Burnett said are currently served. “It’s an opportunity that has never come along before,” Burnett says. 

The new child care funding will benefit single parents with low incomes the most, including many single parents of color. However, it is also true that middle class families will benefit. 

In tiny Corvallis, Oregon, Kate Aronoff can count four child care centers that have closed permanently. But it is not like there was a surplus of child care slots even before the pandemic hit. 

“We already had wait lists,” Aronoff said. “My kids have been on a wait list for one child care center from when we moved here four years ago and we still have not gotten in. From where I sit as a parent, I feel like the solution to the child care crisis has to come from the government. It has to come from funding from the government — state, federal, both, I believe, have to step up and save our crumbling child care industry. Because it is vital to our economy.” 

Women were hit harder by job loss than men in the pandemic recession, in part because women were the ones who stayed home to care for their children when schools and child care centers closed.  Child care will be “built back better,” in the coming months, as President Biden promised.  Continuing to serve most eligible families in future years will be the “game changer” we need for a sustained recovery.   

  

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CHN’s latest Human Needs Report: American Rescue Plan, victory for immigrants, Biden nominations and more https://www.chn.org/voices/chns-latest-human-needs-report-american-rescue-plan-victory-for-immigrants-biden-nominations-and-more/ Mon, 15 Mar 2021 18:16:53 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=7004 CHN just released another edition of the Human Needs Report. Read on for the latest on what's in the COVID-19 relief package and who it helps, changes to anti-immigrant regulations, the status of President Biden's Cabinet, and more.

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CHN just released another edition of the Human Needs Report. Read on for the latest on what’s in the COVID-19 relief package and who it helps, changes to anti-immigrant regulations, the status of President Biden’s Cabinet, and more. Click here to view a PDF of the report.

In This Edition

Advocates celebrated the enactment last week of the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The law will provide help to millions of Americans and will reduce the number of people in poverty by over 13 million – including 5.7 million children. Read on for many of the key components of the legislation. READ MORE »

With President Biden’s COVID-19 relief package signed in to law, focus is shifting to what comes next. The president’s budget, expected in April, will lay the groundwork for a longer-term recovery plan. READ MORE »

In a huge win for immigrants and advocates who fight for them, the Supreme Court on March 9 dismissed an upcoming case regarding the Trump Administration’s harmful 2019 public charge regulations. It is now safe for immigrants and their families to access health, nutrition, and housing programs for which they are eligible. READ MORE »

The House of Representatives passed several bills in the last month that would further social and economic justice, including in the areas of democracy reform and voting rights, the right to unionize, gun control reform, countering racial bias in policing, and protections for LGBTQ individuals. The bills face tougher roads ahead in the Senate. READ MORE »

The pace of Senate confirmations of President Biden’s Cabinet nominees has accelerated in the last month. Key confirmations have taken place in recent weeks, including for HUD Secretary, Education Secretary, and Attorney General. Other key confirmations are still pending. READ MORE »

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CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship March 12, 2021 https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-watch-march-12/ Fri, 12 Mar 2021 18:28:59 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=6989  The victory lap edition. Help is on the way. Yesterday President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan. The plan is bold enough to meet the twin problems of pandemic and recession; The New York Times calls it “virtually without precedent in recent American politics.” 

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COVID-19 HardshipMarch 12, 2021

The victory lap edition. Help is on the way. Yesterday President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan. The plan is bold enough to meet the twin problems of pandemic and recession; The New York Times calls it “virtually without precedent in recent American politics.” 

CHN supporters and allies helped make this happen. You sent more than 350,000 letters to members of the House and Senate demanding they take action. And act they did – the new plan will speed vaccines across the nation. It will reduce the number of people in poverty by over 13 million, including 5.7 million children. Families with low incomes will benefit from expanded tax credits, increased nutrition aid, and housing and utilities assistance. Jobless workers will receive extended UI benefits, and the $1,400 payment headed toward most Americans’ bank accounts will inject needed stimulus into our economy. State and local governments, including territories and tribal jurisdictions, will benefit. Rebuilding our child care industry will allow more women to return to work, and many more Americans will have access to affordable health care. The Brookings-Urban Institute Tax Policy Center tells us that provisions in the American Rescue Plan are refreshingly well-targeted, boosting incomes substantially for the lowest fifth, with no tax breaks for millionaires. That’s in notable contrast to the Trump tax cuts of 2017 (also costing $1.9 trillion), which in 2018 gave the bottom fifth $60, while the top 0.1 percent raked in an average $193,380 each. 

Implementation will not be easy and will require due diligence. As the Washington Post notes, “Over the coming weeks, the Biden administration must send another round of one-time checks to millions of families, rethink vast portions of the U.S. tax code, and dole out much-needed sums to help cash-strapped Americans, seeking to swiftly blunt an economic crisis that has left millions without jobs and falling further behind financially.” 

And the pandemic is far from over. We continue to see declines in daily infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths, but experts warn of a possible new surge in cases due to highly infectious variants spreading through the U.S. Super-spreader events are possible – from the college party in Boulder that nearly turned into a riot to the unsanctioned NBA All-Star events in Atlanta. In Florida, hundreds of thousands of students from more than 200 colleges and universities are expected to descend on Miami Beach during Spring Break, which runs from late February to mid-April. States such as Texas and Mississippi are lifting COVID-19 restrictions entirely. 

Still. Take a victory lap. You deserve it. Bold crises demand bold action. This time, we met the challenge.  

 

10%

10 percent of Americans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a number that for the first time exceeds the country’s total number of confirmed cases. As of Thursday, March 11nearly 34 million Americans had been fully vaccinated, while more than 64 million have received the first shot. Tweet this. 

 

More than 1 in 3

More than 80 million adults in the U.S., or about 35 percent, said their households found it very or somewhat difficult to pay regular bills in the previous week. For adults with children in their households, it was 41 percent. Half or more of Latinx and Blacks reported such hardships. (For whites, it was 27 percent; for Asian-Americans, 30 percent.) Tweet this. 

 

+ $2,960 / – $970

 

After-tax income would go up $2,960 for tax filers with incomes less than $25,500 (the bottom fifth) because of provisions in the American Rescue Plan, a gain of more than 21%, but would fall $970 for millionaires (the top 0.1%). Tweet this.

 

+ $60 / + $193k  

In contrast, the Trump tax cuts in 2018 gave $60 to the bottom fifth, but provided $193,380 on average to each in the top 0.1%. Tweet this. 

  

 34%

In April 2020, as COVID-19 accelerated its rapid spread, excess mortality increased with age and was largest among the oldest age group, new data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau show. Individuals aged 85 and older represent only 3 percent of the total U.S. population ages 25 years and older but accounted for 34 percent of the excess mortality in the U.S. Tweet this. 

 

About half

 

On the other hand, employment displacement decreased with age. It was the largest among the younger age group (ages 25 through 44). These individuals make up only 39 percent of the U.S. population ages 25 and older but accounted for about half of the people 25 and older who lost their jobs nationwide.

 

2 million/$240 billion/110,000

 

In the past year, the restaurant industry has shed 2 million jobs, lost an estimated $240 billion in revenue, and seen 110,000 establishments closed. The American Rescue Plan provides $28.6 billion for the beleaguered industry.

 

74%/60%/41%

 

In a survey of therapists for the American Psychological Association published last fall, 74 percent of therapists saw an increase in demand for anxiety disorder treatment since the start of the pandemic, while 60 percent saw a rise in depression disorder treatment. And 41 percent of therapists reported feeling burned out.

 

More than 2/3 

 

68 percent of Americans believe the federal government should step in and directly provide aid to help struggling families keep their homes, put food on the table and otherwise make ends meet, according to a new poll. This includes 84 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents, and 53 percent of Republicans.

 

70% 

The percent of Americans who say they favor the American Rescue Plan, according to a Pew Research poll released Wednesday, March 10. 41 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they support the measure, along with 94 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

 

 

 

 

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COVID-19 complicates progress toward a more humane immigration system  https://www.chn.org/voices/covid-19-complicates-progress-toward-a-more-humane-immigration-system/ Thu, 11 Mar 2021 18:24:49 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=6983 It’s no secret that Donald Trump’s immigration policies were not popular with a large segment of the American public. From Trump’s Muslim travel ban, derailing family reunification policies, detaining migrants at the border, and pausing the processing of Green cards, the Biden Administration has scrambled to undo these immigration policies.  Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of normal federal immigration function.

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It’s no secret that Donald Trump’s immigration policies were not popular with a large segment of the American public. From Trump’s Muslim travel ban, derailing family reunification policies, detaining migrants at the border, and pausing the processing of Green cards, the Biden Administration has scrambled to undo these immigration policies.  

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of normal federal immigration function, from visa processing delays, distributing immigrant benefits, and suspending court hearings due to health regulations. At the time of these restrictions, Trump continued to fuel anti-immigrant rhetoric by claiming the restrictions were necessary for American job security.  

“By pausing immigration, we will help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens. So important,” Trump said. “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with newimmigrant labor flown in from abroad. We must first take care of the American worker.” 

These comments enable the anti-immigrant stereotypes that have also contributed to misinformation that immigrants spread COVID-19 due to the role of travel in the pandemic. In reality, immigrants are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to social determinants of health such as higher incidence of poverty, crowded housing conditions, and difficulty in social distancing at work.  

Shifting America’s immigration policy is a key goal of Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress.  In his first 100 days, President Biden has introduced sweeping reforms to reinstate pre-Trump era systems while also proposing legislation that would curtail deportations and provide an eight-year path to citizenship.  

These drastic shifts, while welcomed by immigration advocates, have had an unforeseen and dangerous impact. With the decision to accept more asylum seekers and reopen borders for family reunification, there has been a sudden influx of migrant children at the border with Mexico.  

We are seeing minors up and down the line. In South Texas, we are being hammered,” said one Homeland Security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to talk publicly about the situation. 

This has created a housing crunch for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. COVID-19 has spread in immigration detention centers throughout the past year. Data from ICE shows more than 9,600 confirmed cases nationwide. Because of this, restrictions have limited the occupancy of shelters to 60,000. Combined with the influx of children, President Biden might have to backpedal on some of his promises against the detention practices of Trump he so harshly criticized.  

“The reality is, we had to pull the pin out of Trump’s brutal policies, and Biden is trying to do it in a responsible, sequenced way,” said Seth Stodder, a former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama Administration. “But some of the dynamics are not in his control.” 

The Administration is rapidly working to change policies that have created the bottleneck at the border. The Department of Health and Human Services has announced a temporary lift on capacity restrictions to full capacity in order respond to the number of children entering the United States, citing concerns that numbers will only continue to rise over the coming weeks.  

 In addition, in a Friday night federal court filing, ICE disclosed a plan to transition family detention centers to short-term processing facilities that release migrant families after no more than 72 hours. The announcement cited the Flores court decision that established the rights of immigrant children in detention centers, a standard the Trump Administration ignored, while either separating parents from children or holding migrant families together.   

The Washington Post describes these shifts as a “significantly different vision of how to handle the fast-changing character of mass migration at the southern border,” but these decisions do not come without political backlash.  

Trump released a statement saying the border will be “worse, more dangerous, and more out of control than ever before.”  

Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki quickly rebuffed these comments: “We don’t take our advice or counsel from former President Trump on immigration policy, which was not only inhumane but ineffective over the last four years.” 

As President Biden pursues more humanitarian and effective immigration policies, his efforts are complicated by a number of factors — more migrants seeking entrance into the U.S., the growing pains of a new administration, and key COVID-19 restrictions and regulations.  

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Coalition on Human Needs Hails Passage of American Rescue Plan: ‘Help is on the way’  https://www.chn.org/voices/coalition-on-human-needs-hails-passage-of-american-rescue-plan-help-is-on-the-way/ Wed, 10 Mar 2021 22:42:39 +0000 https://www.chn.org/?post_type=voices&p=6986 Help is on the way. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, enacted today by Congress, will offer badly needed help to protect our people from the pandemic’s threats.  It is of the scope needed to speed vaccines across the nation and to help families withstand the economic blows that still afflict us. 

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The following statement was issued Wednesday, March 10 by Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs, in response to final Congressional passage of the American Rescue Plan: 

“Help is on the way.   

“President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, enacted today by Congress, will offer badly needed help to protect our people from the pandemic’s threats.  It is of the scope needed to speed vaccines across the nation and to help families withstand the economic blows that still afflict us. 

“We have a long way to go.  More than one-third of Americans report that their household has had serious difficulties paying their regular weekly bills, and that is true for more than four in ten people living with children.  More than 22 million said their households did not have enough to eat in the previous week.  About half of Black and Hispanic Americans are in households struggling to pay their regular bills; for white and Asian Americans, it is well over one in four.   

“The need is urgent, and President Biden and Congress have taken historic steps to meet it.  According to Columbia University researchers, the American Rescue Plan will reduce the number of people in poverty by over 13 million, of whom 5.7 million are children.  The expansions to the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit will direct aid to families with very low incomes, who will also be helped by increased nutrition, housing, and utilities assistance.  Extended unemployment benefits are similarly vital.  The $1,400 payments will help families to catch up on their bills.  State, local, tribal, and territorial aid will prevent further layoffs and ensure that services are provided, including education and vaccination programs.  Child care services will be sustained so parents can return to