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Again we ask, Welfare to What?

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy, Policy Advocacy, Poverty

Twenty years after “ending welfare as we know it” with the passage of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the current administration issued an Executive Order on April 10, 2018 to Reduce Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility.

While the Administration’s Order is more suggestion for Federal departments of government, the National Coalition for the Homeless [NCH] was strongly opposed to the 1996 law and is equally strongly opposed to the direction of the Executive Order, and any attempt to enforce work requirements on social benefits, including food assistance (SNAP) and Medicaid.

The reality is that the 1996 legislation and now the Executive Order goals language is code for reducing the welfare rolls even further by slicing benefits, imposing further work requirements and mandating further time limits on welfare programs.  It is clear that the direction of the Executive Order, and potential work requirements being considered for access to food assistance (SNAP) and Medicaid, is punitive and does nothing to promote self-sufficiency. At a time when our wages are not keeping up with the cost of living, the only direction of economic mobility for many will be downwards, in some cases leading to homelessness.

In 1998 NCH partnered with the Children’s Defense Fund to publish Welfare to What: Early Findings on Family Hardship and Well-BeingThe key findings include:

  • only a small fraction of welfare recipients’ new jobs pay above-poverty wages; most of the new jobs pay far below the poverty line;
  • many families who leave welfare are losing income and not finding steady jobs at all;
  • extreme poverty is growing more common for children, especially those in female-headed and working families;
  • many families leaving welfare report struggling to get food, shelter, or needed medical care; many are suffering even more hardships, including becoming homeless, than before;
  • many families are not getting the basic help they need [for example, child care, medical coverage, food or transportation] that might enable them to sustain work and care for their children on very low wages;
  • many families are denied cash assistance through little or no fault of their own; states often penalize families without assessing their ability to complete required activities.

Twenty years later, the 2018 Farm Bill with significant changes to SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or Food Stamps] proposed by House Agriculture Committee Chair Michael Conway is the testing ground for the broader direction of the 2018 Executive Order.

And, just as we said 20 years ago, the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities President Robert Greenstein said in April 2018 that the proposed changes in SNAP would “end or reduce benefits for a substantial number of low-income people… and would widen the nation’s economic divides.”

Clearly the current administrations goal is to “leave no billionaire behind” while punishing low-income people.  We ask the same question of the Executive Order as we did 20 years ago: Welfare to What?

NCH does not believe the current false rhetoric of economic mobility and expanding opportunity.  We know better.  We know that the real direction of work requirements as welfare reform is punitive and the results will be increased poverty and homelessness for children and families, disproportionately impacting people of color, especially African-Americans and Native Americans.

NCH stands ready to partner with local, state and national organizations to demand the real direction of any reforms to welfare results in living wage employment and truly affordable and accessible housing.

-Bob Erlenbusch, NCH Board President
Executive Director, Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness

 

Further reading:

Spring into Action

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Community Organizing, Criminalization

We have seen so many movements and actions since the 2016 elections – which means our communities want social and economic justice! We recently recorded a video of solidarity with the March for Our Lives and #NeverAgain campaign for gun reform. We are also partnering with the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival on public actions working to fight the root causes of homelessness.

Here is what you can do this Spring:

Our Homes, Our Voices

We hope that you will join us in taking part in the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Our Homes Our Voices week of action, May 1-8, 2018. Learn more about the event, and how to get involved here.

Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

We also hope you will join us in joining the new Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. This is a ground up movement being led by faith leaders and people who are struggling with an economic and social system that only benefits the most wealthy among us. The campaign has just launched its list of demands, which outline
how the evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy and militarism are persistent, pervasive, and perpetuated by a distorted moral narrative that must be challenged.
 The campaign states,
We must stop attention violence and see the human and economic costs of inequality. We believe that when decent people see the faces and facts that the Souls of Poor Folk Audit presents, they will be moved deeply in their conscience to change things. When confronted with the undeniable truth of unconscionable cruelty to our fellow human beings, we must join the ranks of those who are determined not to rest until justice and equality are a reality for all.
Mother’s Day, May 13th, will kick off 40 days of nonviolent action, and we encourage you and your network to join the campaign and take part in changing “not just the narrative, but who is narrating” our national political agenda.

Public Education

Finally, we know one of our biggest hurdles to housing all of our neighbors is public perception and prejudice against both people of color and poor people. To this end, we have created shareable documents that we encourage you to print and distribute: PUBLIC NOTICE for class action lawsuit - DHOL 2018
  1. A list of demands for the American Dispossessed: Created by Denver Homeless Out Loud in support of the Right to Rest and presented as a public notice, it is meant to be posted outdoors in places where our neighbors are forced to live in encampments or on public land. Click here to download

  2. State of Homelessness 2018: A brief (3 pages) overview of why we are seeing increased visible homelessness in our communities, covering everything from housing to HUD funding to criminalization. Click here to download

Natural Disasters and Homelessness

Written by admin on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Outreach

Natural Disasters and Homelessness Fact Sheet 2009

Click here to view our Factsheet on Disasters and Homelessness

Extreme weather events are a very common cause of homelessness, especially when insurance and other rebuilding resources are limited. Many are still working to rebuild their lives from storms and other natural disasters that occurred years ago.

But as an outreach worker in Houston says, “help for the homeless, often hard to come by under normal circumstances, likely will be even more challenging in the storm’s aftermath.” Moreover, people living on fixed incomes, working poor families, and those who are homeless often do not have the resources to evacuate or even collect needed supplies.

The National Coalition for the Homeless urges all those suffering under extreme weather conditions, or sharing concern for those affected, to consider with assistance and compassion the position of families and individuals who are not able to get out of a storm’s path.

Consider the words of some homeless Houstonians (from this article):

“It’s just rain,” he said, echoing the words of others on the streets.

The camp’s unofficial leader is Stanley Unc, 56…He says even if conditions were worse here, many wouldn’t have blinked — they are toughened by lives lived outside. He said others can’t grasp what their lives are like each day, much less on a day when a Category 4 hurricane hits. “They know what it took them through and we went right in the middle of it,” he said.

Below are some resources for those who are in the path of Irma in Florida, and those affected by Harvey in Texas:

Broward County, Florida:

“Broward County residents who do not have a permanent home or place of safety to reside are especially vulnerable during emergencies, such as a hurricane. When a Hurricane Warning is announced, the Homeless Helpline 954-563-HELP (4357), provides information and referral for homeless services in Broward County, including assistance in finding shelter, support services, or programs for individuals or families who are homeless or on the verge of being homeless.

Additionally, when a hurricane warning is announced or a mandatory evacuation order is issued, Broward County Transit (BCT) buses will offer evacuation transportation from the assigned pick-up points to General Population shelters. Transportation will continue until sustained winds reach 39 miles per hour.

Pick-up Points for Persons Experiencing Homelessness

North Central South
100 West Atlantic Boulevard
Pompano Beach, Fl 33060

(South Side Parking Lot)

Salvation Army Lodge
1445 West Broward Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

954-524-6991

Corner of N. 21 Ave
& Lincoln St.
Hollywood, Fl 33020

(East of railroad tracks)

Corner of N. 21 Ave
& Sherman Street
Hollywood, Fl 33020

(East of railroad tracks)


What to Bring
: Homeless persons are allowed one suitcase, duffel bag or plastic bag of belongings at the shelter. Additional belongings may be left at the nearest feeding program pick-up point until the evacuation order is lifted.

For more information, call Homeless Helpline at 954-563-HELP (4357).​​​

Florida Keys/Monroe County, Florida:

The Monroe County Emergency Operations Center is now operational and the Emergency Information line is up and running for those who have questions about Hurricane Irma. The Emergency Information number is 1-800-955-5504.

Key West Transit will begin hurricane evacuation service at noon Thursday. Buses will be clearly marked “hurricane evacuation” on the destination boards. They will circulate throughout the city, picking up riders at regular bus stops. Riders will be transferred at the Transit Center on Stock Island, and the buses will proceed to the hurricane shelter at Florida International University, picking up riders along US 1.

Evacuees are asked to go to the nearest bus stop, or the Transit Center on College Road. Pickups will continue throughout the afternoon Thursday and resume at 6 a.m. on Friday. Weapons and alcohol are prohibited on the buses.

Regular bus service – Citywide, the Duval Loop and the Lower Keys Shuttle – will end at midnight Wednesday, September 6th.

Manatee County, Florida

Miami, Florida

Orlando, Florida

National Resources

Harvey Recovery Resources

 

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