Nearly 9 million Americans who receive Social Security and SNAP. For those Americans, Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment increases can be a blessing, providing extra cushion as prices go up. But they can also be a curse, taking away when SNAP benefits are needed the most.
Front and Center is a groundbreaking series created in partnership with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which aims to put front and center the voices of Black women who are affected most by the often-abstract policies debated at the national level.
“The last time I applied for SNAP, they told me I made too much to qualify. So, I’m not making enough at work to be able to care for my people, and at the same time I can’t get food stamps? It doesn’t make any sense. … And what we do bring home goes toward rent. And just like the Rental Assistance Program, as soon as I’m making a little bit more money—boom, I’m paying the full amount of rent. So how can we ever save? How can we ever do better for ourselves?”
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.”
The water system failure in Jackson, Miss., is a crisis, but the failure of our leaders to build the necessary supports and systems that families need to survive has turned it into a catastrophe.
Many programs also have strict requirements that—by design—prevent low-income people from accessing the benefits they deserve. Traditional welfare policies are often paternalistic and controlling, requiring low-income women to use benefits in specific ways, or forcing them into situations that don’t work well for their family’s needs.
A federal guaranteed income program is an opportunity to design a social safety net that takes social and historical context into account, empowers low-income parents and ends cycles of poverty.
The landscape of “abortion deserts” in this country now glaringly resembles the map of where we see the highest rates of food insecurity. The people forced to seek abortion care hundreds of miles away from their homes are the same parents skipping meals so their kids can eat, scrambling to fulfill SNAP work requirements and grocery shopping with calculators to stretch their government benefits as much as possible.
Today’s supply-chain issues have turned a formula shortage into a crisis, particularly for Black and Latino families seeking to nourish their babies. The formula crisis is a racial justice issue.
The child tax credit had historic bipartisan support. We can get back to that if we agree that supporting caregivers and children is a top priority for our country.
Last week, the Senate narrowly passed a bill that would end the national emergency declaration for the pandemic after two years. Next month, the nationwide public health emergency is set to end as well. While the steadily falling case numbers are encouraging, for many pregnant people and new moms who qualify for Medicaid, the crisis is far from over, and the end of pandemic-era flexibilities could mean disaster.
At our current pace, we won’t close the wage gap between men and women until 2157—nearly 136 years from now, with 36 of those added to make up for pandemic setbacks. We can’t hand off this injustice to our great-great granddaughters. So how can public policymakers, philanthropy and private businesses come together to accelerate the process?
There are solutions for narrowing the wage gap between men and women—let’s start by raising the federal minimum wage to $15; providing paid leave to all employees; and changing hiring practices.