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Posts Tagged ‘History’

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:

Our 100th Post!!!

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Speakers' Bureau, Uncategorized

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It’s quite fitting that we’ve reached the big 1-0-0 during the beginning of a new year!

In four years of blogging about current issues homeless communities face, we have covered stories from the everyday struggle of living without a stable home to celebrating the lives of our friends. While we are proud to have this space where our members, speakers, AmeriCorps VISTAs, interns, staff, and other dedicated advocates can contribute to the conversation regarding our neighbors and friends, we recognize that this conversation has been a long one that needs to end with more affordable housing, accessible healthcare, and living wage jobs.100th Blog Entry-A

As we continue to advocate for these rights, we dedicate this entry to the Top 10 Bring America Home Blog post which represents a diversity of perspectives from our bloggers. We invite you to take a look, be part of the conservation, and join us in our work.

Thanks for reading!

10. Living my Uncle’s Story
Hearing my uncle turn back the pages of his life, recounting his struggles and tragedies, my mind was reeling with empathy and understanding. I have lived my story for 21 years. But for the past two days, I lived his.

9. Is Prison Adequate Housing?
What some don’t realize is that these parole restrictions, combined with the difficulty in finding an employer willing to hire an ex-offender, make it very difficult for people who have served their time to find housing and be productive members of the community.

8. What would Mitch Snyder Do and Say Today?
I just hope that there is a little bit of Mitch Snyder in all of us which keeps our eyes on the prize of stopping this injustice of homelessness in our midst.

7. Voluntary Hunger in Protest of Involuntary Hunger
It is important that we remember what hangs in the balance. In the past, the anti-hunger and poverty movement has responded in a multitude of ways. One of those is known as a hunger fast (or strike) to draw public awareness to the issues the poor face and create policy change.

6. Tourism vs. Homelessness
Rather than providing day and night shelter services during the summer months, tourist cites do their best to move out homeless out of visible downtown locations. Homeless people are seen as bad for both tourism and economic development.

5. Shefights.net: A Sequel to Bum Fights

4. Police Charged with Murdering California Homeless Man
Thomas died because six officers of the Fullerton Police Department didn’t know how to react or respond to a mentally ill person in distress and crisis. When faced with a situation that caused confusion, law enforcement at the scene chose brutal force to subdue Mr. Thomas.

3. State ID Legislation Threatens to Disenfranchise Homeless Voters
This trend is only becoming more and more widespread: according to The Brennan Center for Justice, ‘at least 37 states are considering or have considered voter ID and/or proof of citizenship’ bills in this legislative session alone.

2. Membership Matters
There are very real and important reasons why homelessness in America grew to such crisis levels during our lifetime and why it continues to exist today. There are also a number of basic ways that each of us can help locally to prevent, reduce and end homelessness nationwide.

1. Homelessness: An Issue of Convenience Impacting Others
A special thanks must once again be given to our four wonderful speakers, without whom, we would not be able to effectively carry out NCH’s mission

In Memory of Roosevelt Darby Jr.

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Speakers' Bureau

It is with great sadness that we again mourn the loss of a great advocate for people experiencing homelessness, and a great friend of the National Coalition for the Homeless.  Roosevelt Darby spent 20 years working to end homelessness, serving as an NCH Board Member for over 10 years, actively serving on the Executive Committee.  Recently, Roosevelt had shared his talents with the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, and had been featured in an NCH video talking about his experience with homelessness.  Roosevelt and his compassionate friendship will be greatly missed.

Here, a few of the current NCH Staff and Board Members share their memories of Roosevelt:

As NCH’s longtime community organizer, I first came into contact with Roosevelt Darby, Jr. in 1992.   He was active in a number of our projects ranging from voter registration, civil rights, to establishing a statewide homeless coalition.

His special focus was working with single homeless men having substance abuse issues.   He was also adept in motivational public speaking, advocacy, and community organizing.

Due in large part to Roosevelt Darby, NCH became more focused on doing community organizing work at the grassroots level.

-Michael Stoops, Washington, DC

I remember Roosevelt’s time with us with warm and gentle thoughts.  When we had the TA grant I went to Pennsylvania at his request to help organize his Board and staff.  It was a wonderful three day retreat and the first and only time I have ever been to Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Roosevelt got someone to take me there as the retreat wasn’t far away.  His passion and his life experience made for a wonderfully humane approach to housing the homeless and truly building community.  He will be missed by his family, his NCH family, his friends, and most by those he served.

-Barbara Anderson, Indiana

During the years Roosevelt spent with us on the Board, we joked about wanting to work together some day.  Then one day he called me from Philly and asked if I had been serious.  He came to Atlanta and ran our Recovery Program for nearly two years, leaving only because we had no more funding for the program and no ability to pay staff at all.

During those two years Roosevelt worked his gentle, straightforward magic with amazing and steady results that left us with leaders who have continued his work with themselves and have helped us continue that Recovery Program, which they call The Buddy System.

Roosevelt shared himself, his heart and his journey, with each person he coached into sobriety.  We are better people and a better place because of Roosevelt’s time with us, and his legacy lives on in the lives of the men.

-Anita Beaty, Georgia

Roosevelt Darby was leader. He fought the demons of poverty his whole life. He fought his way off the streets and away from drugs.

He didn’t mind talking about his life. He was cautious yet quick with a smile if something resonated with his experiences.

There came a time in his life that he came to realize that poverty had been imposed upon him and so so many others. He became a Tax Day Captain and a Bridge Captain for the Universal Living Wage. He told the truth to anyone who would listen. He became a street warrior justice.

He was a gentle man. He’s gone home now.

Thank you Roosevelt for reaching back. Thank you Jesus for sharing this kind soul with us.

-Richard Troxell, Texas

Roosevelt was a true friend and absolute warrior for people experiencing homelessness.  He will be greatly missed.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the city of Philadelphia.

-Donald Whitehead, Florida

I join all others in grief. Do give thanks to God for having met Roosevelt, and will pray that he keeps on helping us on our struggle for justice.

-Glorin Ruiz Patush, Puerto Rico

Brian Davis of Cleveland, OH also offers this reflection on working with Roosevelt.

Please read more about Roosevelt’s in this nice article from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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