One Solution to the Affordable Housing Crisis
This week the Jewish Council for Public Affairs is joining with Catholic Charities USA, the National Council of Churches, and fifty other faith organizations for the fifth annual Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization. This year the faith community is shining a light on the lack of affordable housing in the United States.
Due to the most recent recession and foreclosure crisis, more Americans than ever are struggling to find quality, affordable housing for their families. As a result, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that 636,017 people were homeless in 2011. 35 million families in the United States are renters. HUD reports that an estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households pay more than 50% of their annual income for housing. In many cases, a family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford local fair-market rent for a two bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S.
Helping the Poor Through Tax Credits
This time of year we hear a lot of rhetoric and debate about taxes from politicians and pundits. One topic missing from this debate, though, is a discussion of the tax credit programs that greatly benefit low-income families, mainly the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). These two refundable tax credits have helped millions of hard-working families stay out of poverty and weather the still-recovering economy.
What the 2011 Poverty and Hunger Data Tells Us
Earlier this month the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Agriculture released reports that showed a large number of Americans still struggling with hunger and poverty on a daily basis.
A report released on September 5th by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that 14.9% of American households—including 1 in 6 Americans—suffered from food insecurity in 2011. Food insecure households are those that struggle to put food on the table at some point during the year and do not always know from where their next meal is coming. The USDA report also stated that in 2011, 16.7 million children were food insecure.
Hunger in Our Schools: A Report and Solutions
Earlier this month we learned that 16.7 million children in 2011 lived in food insecure households. The Hunger in Our Schools report released in August by Share Our Strength shines a light on what public school teachers are witnessing in their classrooms regarding students and hunger.
According to Share Our Strength, “3 in 5 K-8 public school teachers say students come to school hungry.” The consequences of hunger on learning and the education process are tangible. When students arrive at school hungry they experience an inability to concentrate, leading to poor academic performance. They also experience physical ailments such as headaches, stomachaches, and lethargy. As one teacher states in the report, “Kids lack the ability to ignore those hunger pains. They’re concentrating on how soon until lunch rather than on learning to read.”
Raising the Minimum Wage
Last week Senator Tom Harkin (IA-D) and Representative George Miller (CA-D) introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012 (S. 2252/ H.R. 6211). This legislation would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 by 2014. The bill would also provide for annual increases to the rate in future years to keep pace with the rising cost of living—a key reform called “indexing.” Lastly, for the first time in 21 years, this piece of legislation would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from its current low-rate of $2.13 an hour to $6.85. This provision will be phased in over five years and will be fixed at 70% of the full minimum wage. The House bill already has 109 co-sponsors. The Senate bill just started accepting co-sponsors.
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