By Kelvin Lassiter
Fighting for justice and equality in housing and economics has been going on for quite some time. The National Coalition for the Homeless was formed in the early 1980’s after advocates had already started opening emergency shelters and food programs because of disastrous cuts made to affordable housing and health care through the 1970’s. Activism in the 1980’s led to the Homeless Assistance Act being passed, now known as the McKinney-Vento or HEARTH Act, which has provided the bulk of Federal homeless assistance dollars.
But what about truly ending homelessness? On July 25, 2003, the key tenets of the Bring America Home Act were introduced to the nation. This plan, created through a national campaign, proposed a four-pronged approach to addressing the root causes of homelessness:
- HOUSING JUSTICE Recognizing housing as a basic human right, increasing investment in federal affordable housing programs
- HEALTH CARE Calling for single-payer or universal health coverage for all residents of the country
- ECONOMIC JUSTICE Working towards living wages and benefits, providing labor supports for un- or under-employed workers
- CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS Ensuring that poor and unhoused persons are free from added criminalization based on their housing or economic status, providing a path to housing and work for those who are formerly incarcerated
While there have been many pieces of the original Bringing America Home Act passed in some form, but there is much more work to do. We are happy to support the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 (H.R. 603), raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. This raise will:
- Immediately lift over 30 million people out of poverty
- Move people closer to being able to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent
- Finally bring the minimum wage to the level it would be factoring in the previous increases since the Fair Labor Standards Act became law in 1938
We encourage you to join us in supporting the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, encouraging your federal elected officials to support strong wage growth for working people. Our advocacy is only strengthened when the citizens of this nation play a part and lawmakers act on their constituent responses.