Affordable Housing as a Human Right: Activist Diane Yentel on the U.S. Housing Crisis, Racial Justice and Democracy

Right now, low-income renters are facing rising inflation, skyrocketing rents, limited tenant protections and a shortage of affordable units. Predictably, this is leading to an increasing number of evictions and a spike in homelessness.

Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, sees housing and racial justice as inextricably linked. “We must ensure that low-income people can participate in democracy by removing the barriers to voting that make it difficult to cast a ballot.”

Black Women and Their Labor Are Still Underpaid and Undervalued

For every dollar a white man makes, a Black woman earns 63 cents.

Along with severe wage inequality, Black women continue to be disproportionately overrepresented in low-paying, service-oriented jobs. More than one-third of the essential workers—many of them the people who have powered our country throughout the pandemic—are Black women. COVID-19, inflation and stagnant wages have laid bare how necessary it is for our elected representatives to act by voting to increase the minimum wage and creating a robust paid family and medical leave package accessible to all.

Harnessing the Power of Women Voters

In 2017, a year into the presidency of Donald Trump, three notable women—Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, former Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards, and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Ai-jen Poo—looked to harness the sudden rage and confusion felt by women across the U.S. Garza, Poo and Richards announced the start of a women’s equality organization called Supermajority, a multiracial coalition of women organizing around issues like paid leave and affordable healthcare. The group’s name hearkens to the fact that women make up more than half of the U.S. population. 

These days, Amanda Brown Lierman is the executive director of both Supermajority and the Supermajority Education Fund, a sister nonprofit organization for research, education and development programs that prepare women civic leaders. And Lierman and her team have their eye on the prize: the 2022 midterms.

Unionized Starbucks Employees Fight for Abortion Care Benefits

As anti-abortion laws spread across the nation as a result of the Dobbs decision, the Starbucks corporation said it could not guarantee benefits to unionized employees that they previously said would cover travel to access abortions.

Starbucks workers and labor organizers say this is a deliberate anti-union strategy which weaponizes the fragile state of abortion care access to discourage unionization.

Keeping Score: Young and Minority Americans Feel Unsafe at Polls; Students Say Abortion Laws Will Affect College Decisions; Lawmakers Advance Menstrual Equity

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.

This week: Colorado and Scotland pass laws to eliminate taxes on menstrual products and provide free products in public, respectively; Pennsylvania becomes 27th state to restrict conversion therapy; young Black and Latinx Americans feel especially unsafe at polling locations; CDC director criticizes agency’s handling of COVID-19 and monkeypox outbreaks in the U.S.; Biden’s new tax law imposes minimum corporate taxes and supports environmentalist efforts; and more.

COVID Revealed the U.S.’s Long-Time Misogyny and Lack of Respect for Teachers

Early on in the pandemic, when little was known about the virus and no vaccine yet existed to thwart it, some “essential workers”—those in healthcare—received applause daily for their heroic efforts to staunch the bleeding. But one group, made up primarily of women, was on the receiving end of bitter acrimony and blame for allegedly aggravating the problems caused by the pandemic: teachers.

Those who work in education were blamed for failing to do what other essential workers were doing and stay on the job, no matter the personal cost.