Category Archives: Housing

Pursuing Racial and Economic Justice in Housing

Pursuing Racial and Economic Justice in Housing

Jarrett Smith
April 28, 2021

Last week, President Biden released details of his much-anticipated American Jobs Plan. It is a bold proposal, and includes reforms in key areas. To honor the human dignity of every person, NETWORK affirms that housing should be a right in this country; therefore, we are pleased President Biden has prioritized affordable housing in this package. In total, the American Jobs Plan provides $213 billion to build, preserve, and retrofit 2 million homes.

More specifically, the President’s plan proposes the following capital investments:

  • $40 billion to create new public housing
  • $27 billion to establish a Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to mobilize private investments in distributed energy and retrofits
  • $20 billion for Neighborhood Homes Investment Act tax credits to help more than 500,000 low- and middle-income homebuyers build and rehabilitate homes
  • Develop 1 million affordable, resilient, accessible, energy-efficient, and electrified housing units through tax credits, formula funding, grants, and project-based rental assistance
  • Create grants to eliminate state and local exclusionary zoning laws
  • Guarantee energy efficiency improvements through block grants, Weatherization Assistance Program, and tax credits

At NETWORK, we see housing as an opportunity to dismantle systemic racism, a cornerstone of the Build Anew Agenda, as it applies to housing policies that have been a part of this country its inception. It is critical that specific policies to address and eradicate racism are part of this housing infrastructure proposal.  Components NETWORK would like to see in the proposal include:

Bridging the gap between individual’s incomes and housing costs by expanding rental assistance to every eligible household.

  • Currently, only 1 in 4 households eligible for rental assistance receives it. The vast majority of families – over 17 million — who need rental assistance do not receive it, causing many people to be cost-burdened or experience housing insecurity (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).

Expanding and preserving the supply of rental homes that are affordable and accessible to people with the lowest incomes, as well as providing at least $70 billion to start increasing the supply and renovating existing rental housing.

  • There is no state or congressional district in the U.S. with enough affordable homes for families with the lowest incomes. Additional housing is badly needed, and at affordable prices, for all families and individuals to secure stable housing in the U.S. (National Low Income Housing Coalition).

Providing emergency rental assistance to households in crisis by creating a national housing stabilization fund.

  • Millions of households are one unexpected financial interruption away from economic hardship that could quickly result in homelessness. Large and small municipalities should be able to directly access these funds for distribution and a request for financial assistance should be simple, involving minimal paperwork. Funds should be distributed by giving name, address, landlord and the amount owed. This process should be a very liberal annual cap that resets at the start of each calendar year.

Strengthening and enforcing renter protections.

  • The power inequities between renters and landlords puts renters at risk of housing instability and homelessness. CDC eviction protections should remain in place for 36 months to protect families and individuals from eviction.

NETWORK is committed to making sure that there are no people living in the United States without a home.  We believe that even the lowest earning household or individual should have a place to call home. Housing is a right for all individuals and families and we can no longer allow homelessness to be an acceptable condition for anyone in the United States. As Pope Francis said during his 2015 visit to the United States, “Let me be clear. There is no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for the lack of housing.”

Moreover, the Build Anew cornerstone of rooting our economy in solidarity should be fundamental for future federal housing policy. Housing is the basis for stable economic security and prosperity. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan is an excellent start, and we will advocate for that proposal, and further steps, once it becomes our nation’s new infrastructure reality for housing.

Senate Hearing Examines Legacy of Racial Discrimination in Housing

Senate Hearing Examines Legacy of Racial Discrimination in Housing

April 12, 2021

Ahead of tomorrow’s hearing “Separate and Unequal: The Legacy of Racial Discrimination in Housing,” NETWORK Lobby expresses its gratitude to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs for holding this important hearing on the intersection of systemic racism and housing. Having access to safe, stable, affordable housing improves physical and mental health, and honors the dignity of every person. Despite this sacred truth, racism in our housing system has barred Black and brown individuals and families from securing quality housing at an affordable cost for centuries.

We must name and dismantle racism in our society and our economy in order to advance the common good. Tomorrow’s hearing plays an important role in that. As we move forward together, it is critical that President Biden’s infrastructure plan affirms that housing is a human right and seeks to ensure that every person and family in the United States is housed. As Pope Francis said in 2015, “We can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing.”

At NETWORK, we are working to realize our vision of a just and inclusive society where all can thrive, including especially those who are most often left out: women, people of color, people on the economic margins, and those at the intersections of these identities. We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Sherrod Brown and other Senators to build our nation anew through our federal policies.

Separate and Unequal: The Legacy of Racial Discrimination in Housing
U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

DATE: Tuesday, April 13, 2021
TIME: 10:00 AM

Watch the Hearing here: https://www.banking.senate.gov/hearings/separate-and-unequal-the-legacy-of-racial-discrimination-in-housing

President Biden Extends Federal Eviction Moratorium on Day One

President Biden Extends Federal Eviction Moratorium on Day One

Audrey Carroll
January 21, 2021

On the first day of the Biden-Harris administration, President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders. Among these was an order to extend the federal moratorium on evictions through the end of March. The moratorium is implemented through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and seeks to aid tenants financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday the new director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, MD, released a statement saying, “I will extend the order halting residential evictions until at least 3/31/21. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to our nation’s health & has also triggered a housing affordability crisis that disproportionately affects some communities.”

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one in five households were behind on rent in December 2020. President Biden’s executive order provides vital relief for renters struggling to make payments and maintain their housing, especially essential workers and Black and Brown communities who have been the most impacted by COVID-19. Without this action by President Biden thousands may have lost their homes, says president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition Diane Yentel. However, the order lacks enforcement from a federal agency to penalize landlords who unlawfully evict tenants. The CDC order is not an automatic eviction ban, but provides some immediate security for renters as the Biden administration continues to work on their American Rescue Plan which will allocate $25 billion in rental assistance.

No one should live in fear of losing their housing or falling behind on rent. NETWORK agrees with Pope Francis, who said during his 2015 visit to the United States, “We can find no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing.” We at NETWORK support the swift actions taken by the Biden-Harris administration on Day One to provide assistance to renters, with an emphasis on alleviating the housing crisis in communities of color. We look forward to working alongside President Biden and our partners to advocate for policies that recognize safe, affordable housing as a human right.

How To Organize During a Pandemic

How To Organize During a Pandemic

Alex Burnett
May 27, 2020

Recently, journalists have written extensively about the anti-lockdown protests gripping our nation. During the past month, The New York Times published at least 15 stories about anti-lockdown protesters, highlighting their propensity to carry assault weapons, flaunt social distancing, display Confederate flags, and secure funding from prominent conservative donors. This reporting is crucially important, especially since many of these demonstrators espouse white supremacist rhetoric and actively participate in neo-Nazi organizations, like The Proud Boys.

Despite its significance, this reporting can eclipse stories about progressive activists who are struggling for a socially just COVID-19 response. Workers in at least 7 states organized strikes involving more than 1,000 people in March and April, but the media largely ignored their historic organizing and instead focused primarily on the anti-lockdown crowd.

In this blog post, I want to highlight some progressive activists—specifically, The Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) and National Nurses United (NNU). Both NNU and PPC are building grassroots support for a COVID-19 response that advances racial and economic justice, while recognizing we cannot “return to normal” if this pandemic abides. By demanding immediate COVID-19 relief alongside permanent systemic change, PPC and NNU are demonstrating how other justice-seekers can effectively organize during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Poor People’s Campaign: Working Towards a “New Normal”

A national coalition led by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, The Poor People’s Campaign quickly recognized why coronavirus hit the U.S. remarkably hard. The PPC condemned the federal government’s reckless and uncoordinated response,” but maintained, “The current emergency…results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis”—the “evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism,” described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in May 1967. To fully address the COVID-19 crisis, the PPC argued that the U.S. must eliminate racism, poverty, and our environmentally destructive wartime economy.

Approximately 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Poor People’s March on Washington, Dr. Barber revived Dr. King’s efforts at building a mass, multiracial movement of working-class people intent on transforming American society. Since 2017, the PPC organized 43 state committees, comprised of low-income people and faith leaders, lobbied federal and state policymakers around their Moral Agenda, and coordinated civil disobedience nationwide. With support from dozens of social justice organizations, including NETWORK, the PPC is now turning their attention to the COVID-19 crisis, hoping to bring the kind of pressure that many lawmakers haven’t felt since the 1960’s civil rights revolution.

To accomplish this ambitious goal, the PPC is working closely with local organizers, explained Adam Barnes, who coordinates the PPC’s faith partnerships and The Rights & Religions Program at The Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice. Since January, the PPC mobilized its members to support local responses to the COVID-19 crisis—including rent strikes, mutual aid networks, workplace walkouts, and anti-hospital closure demonstrations. These expressions of “non-cooperation,” Barnes emphasized, are faithful responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Since half the U.S. population lived in poverty before coronavirus eliminated a single job, the PPC believes these actions are urgent.

Crucially, the PPC’s local organizing amplifies their national advocacy. On April 3rd, the PPC sharply criticized COVID-19 relief legislation for funneling trillions of federal dollars into investment banks without guaranteeing healthcare, income, and housing for all Americans. To bolster their message, the PPC organized a National Week of Action, scheduled for May 21st (5/21). On May 21st, justice-seekers can call or email Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and ask them to support the PPC’s Moral Agenda and COVID-19 demands, which would provide immediate COVID-19 relief and reduce racial and economic inequality. Additionally, as part of this week of action, religious communities can host special services amplifying the PPC’s message and mourning the 250,000 people killed by poverty each year. Click here to learn more about the May 21st week of action.

Much of this activism is building towards the PPC’s Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington. NETWORK is proud to join the Poor People’s Campaign as a mobilizing partner for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Justice Gathering, on June 20, 2020. At this historic event, which PPC organizers hope will be the largest digital gathering of low-income people in U.S. history, PPC speakers will denounce what “normal” looked like before the pandemic—140 million people living in poverty, an irredeemably racist criminal justice system, widespread voter suppression in communities of color, and unsanitary deportation camps, which separate immigrant families. After offering solutions to these “normal” problems and the COVID-19 crisis, PPC speakers will help participants develop plans for building grassroots power in their communities. To RSVP for the PPC’s June 20th event, click here.

“We’ve seen how broken our system really is,” Adam Barnes told me. “I can guarantee you that the people in power are going to push for us to ‘return to normal,’ but this is a chance for us to do things differently.” Adam is right. By supporting innovative groups, like NNU and the PPC, we can struggle for a solution to this crisis that pushes us towards something better than “normal.” Hopefully, it will resemble justice.

National Nurses United & The Long Struggle for Health Justice

The largest labor union of registered nurses (RNs) in the United States, National Nurses United responded to COVID-19 months before it dominated headlines. On January 30, 2020, NNU sent a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO), which demanded better COVID-19 protections for healthcare workers. By mid-March, the union had lobbied most federal health agencies, spoken with dozens of Members of Congress, and organized a national day of action, in which thousands of nurses demanded more personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus testing. Crucially, NNU emphasized that our nation’s broken healthcare system was not prepared for a pandemic requiring mass testing and hospitalization. According to a March 2020 NNU analysis covering 48 states, over 70% of hospitals did not have sufficient PPE or a plan for treating COVID-19 patients.

Over the next 2 months, NNU continued pressuring policymakers and employers to prioritize people over profit in their coronavirus response. Besides demanding the Cook County Department of Corrections release incarcerated people from jails and prisons, NNU continually stressed that COVID-19 disproportionately harms low-income people of color. With these stakes in mind, nearly 100,000 NNU nurses organized May Day actions across 13 states, during which they called on the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) to better protect healthcare workers and their patients. Most recently, NNU brought the heat to the White House, where nurses coordinated a vigil-protest honoring 88 recently deceased nurses.

NNU’s flurry of activity offers a model for progressives interested in organizing during the coronavirus lockdown. By combining digital actions, vigils, and confrontational protests, NNU created many avenues for participation, leading to remarkably high levels of turnout. Additionally, NNU did not limit their demands to one branch of government or a single negligent employer. Through pressuring federal and state policymakers alongside the private sector, NNU demonstrated that our entire healthcare system bears responsibility for the harm wrought by coronavirus. A longtime advocate for safe staffing levels and patient protections, NNU was ideally positioned to make this clear.

To learn about upcoming NNU actions, visit their website.

For A Better COVID-19 Relief Plan, Let’s #FundFamilies

For A Better COVID-19 Relief Plan, Let’s #FundFamilies

Ness Perry 
May 12, 2020

On Thursday, May 7, 2020, NETWORK Lobby and our partners Moms Rising, Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus, and The Coalition on Human Needs gathered virtually for a tweet storm encouraging Congress to #FundFamilies. This digital action aimed to ask for increased, consistent cash assistance for families and an expansion of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Social media is key to putting pressure on Members of Congress while in-person lobbying and hill visits are no longer an option.

NETWORK participated in the #FundFamilies tweetstorm because our faith teaches us to care for people at the margins in our country. Our economic recovery package should support those who need it the most, which is why we call on Congress to provide cash payments to every adult until the pandemic is over. This should be given to households that did not receive prior support from the CARES Act. This includes low- or no-income families that do not file tax returns, and families with ITINs including mixed-immigration status households.

Families need direct aid, as well as credits in the coming tax season. We know that the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit works, therefore we must expand it to provide aid for more families. The Child Tax Credit leaves behind more than 1/3 of children in families who earn too little to get the full credit — including 1/2 of Black and Latinx children. In order to mend the racial wealth and income gap, we must call on Congress to provide relief for all families, especially families of color.

Here are some highlights from the event:

https://twitter.com/RepBarbaraLee/status/1258442973332869124

Bold Bills Aim to Mend the Gaps in Access to Housing

Bold Bills Aim to Mend the Gaps in Access to Housing

Tralonne Shorter
May 7, 2020

In 2020, NETWORK started the year with an expanded focus on housing to address mending the gap between housing costs and stagnant wages. Our goal is clear: build a pathway from poverty to prosperity for families. To achieve this goal, NETWORK joined the Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign, a solutions-driven coalition comprised of multi-sector groups working at the federal, state, and local level to improve housing affordability and end homelessness.

While our lobby efforts continue to include increasing federal funding for critical affordable housing programs (like Section 8 vouchers, public housing, Community Development Block Grants and HOME Investment Partnerships), we are also supporting a growing list of critical bills that would make structural change by:

  1. Bridging the growing gap between renter incomes and rising housing costs.
  2. Providing aid to people experiencing job losses or other economic shocks to avert housing instability or homelessness.
  3. Expanding the affordable housing stock for low-income renters.
  4. Defending existing rental assistance and other targeted housing resources from harmful cuts.

Eviction Crisis Act (S.3030): A bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH) that would establish a federal emergency housing assistance grant program that would provide aid to people experiencing housing insecurity to avert homelessness and would create a national database to track evictions.

Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act (S.3083): A bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Todd Young (R-IN) that would create an additional 500,000 housing vouchers specifically designed for low-income families with young children under 6 to expand their access to neighborhoods of opportunity with high-performing schools, strong job prospects, and other resources.

Housing Is Infrastructure Act (H.R.5187/S.2961): A bicameral bill introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) and Senator Kamila Harris (D-CA). This legislation would invest more than $100 billion to improve our nation’s housing infrastructure, build affordable rental homes, and create jobs.

Homes for All Act (H.R.5244): Introduced by Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), a bill that would commit $1 trillion to fund the construction of 12 million new homes in the U.S. over 10 years, mostly as public housing.  

Rent Relief Act (H.R.2169/S.1106): Introduced by Representative Danny Davis (D-IL-07) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), this bicameral bill aims to reduce rent burdens by creating a new, refundable tax credit for renter households paying more than 30% of their gross income for the taxable year on rent and utilities.

We applaud the authors of these bills for proposing solutions to the real problems facing too many families and individuals in the United States. In the coming months, NETWORK will mobilize to build support for this legislation in Washington, D.C. and across the country. Watch for additional communication from NETWORK with ways to support this faithful legislation.

Tralonne Shorter is a NETWORK Senior Government Relations Advocate.

 Housing Facts

  • When families struggle to pay rent, they face greater risks of instability, eviction, and even homelessness, which research links to food insecurity, poor health, lower cognitive scores and academic achievement, and more frequent foster care placement among children.
  • Our nation’s continued legacy of racism can be found within generations of public policy that continue to segregate communities by race and income.
  • On a single night in 2018, half a million people experienced homelessness in the United States.1
  • An estimated 1.3 million U.S. school children lived in unstable housing during the 2016-2017 school year.2
  • 4 million people in 5.2 million U.S. households use federal rental assistance to afford modest housing. 68% are seniors, children, or people with disabilities.3
  • 23 million low-income renters in the U.S. pay more than half their income for housing. Most do not receive rental assistance due to funding limitations.3

Who are they?

  • 32% are children
  • 34% are working adults
  • 12% are seniors
  • 18% have a disability
  • 3% are veterans

Sources:

  1. Department of Housing and Urban Development: hudexchange.info/resource/5783/2018-ahar-part-1-pit-estimates-of-homelessness-in-the-us
  2. Department of Housing and Urban Development: huduser.gov/portal/publications/Worst-Case-Housing-Needs.html
  3. Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: cbpp.org/research/housing/federal-rental-assistance-fact-sheets#US

President Trump’s Budget Fails to Mend the Gaps… Again

President Trump’s Budget Fails to Mend the Gaps… Again

NETWORK Government Relations Team
February 14, 2020

We believe the budget is a faithful, moral document that should reflect our values as a nation. Unfortunately, the President’s FY2021 budget that came out earlier this week does not do this. President Trump’s budget proposes$4.8 trillion in drastic cuts to non-defense discretionary spending for vital federal agencies, including a 37% spending cut for the Department of Commerce and a 15% cut for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This will increase the gaps between the wealthy and the impoverished in our nation.

President Trump’s budget abandons the most vulnerable in our nation by reducing funding for fundamental social safety net programs. The budget would increase the number of uninsured people in the United States, cut desperately needed assistance for low-income families, and invest almost nothing into our nation’s dilapidated infrastructure. It is time to mend the racial and income gaps in our nation. We cannot accept this immoral and divisive budget proposal from President Trump.

Once again, President Trump lays out a budget that provides a preferential option for the rich while gutting critical programs proven to lift people out of poverty. His budget would give an additional 1.4 Trillion dollars in tax breaks to the wealthy paid for by cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and other safety net programs.  This is sinful.  We must heal the wounds of economic and racial injustice with those facing systemic exclusion and oppression. We echo the words of the Prophet Isaiah who warned the corrupt rulers of his time, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.”

The president’s budget proposal lays out another hopeless roadmap that offers no relief or clear pathway to prosperity for disheartened working families. The proposal includes $4.4 trillion in steep cuts to nondefense spending over 10 years, starting with $42 billion for FY2021 to offset increased funding for defense and immigration enforcement. This president fails the moral test of great leaders to care for those with the least among us– the 99% of the country who are over-worked, under-valued, and under-resourced.  We must expect more from our leaders and urge Congress to reject this budget by investing in affordable housing, health care, Medicaid, SNAP, and fair elections.

Here’s how President Trump’s FY2021 budget proposal would negatively impact the Common Good and widen the gaps across our nation:

Endangers the health care of the most vulnerable in our nation by attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and by imposing deep cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.

  • Proposed cuts of $1 trillion in Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA over the next ten years
  • Implements mandatory work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries
  • Ends Medicaid expansion for states that have opted to expand coverage. This will eliminate care for the 13 million people who secured care from the expansion
  • No proposals for an ACA replacement plan if it is struck down by the Supreme Court
    • This will lead to elimination of the ACA’s protection against discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and the ACA’s requirement that health plans cover essential health benefits

Implements irresponsible and discriminatory immigration policy.

  • Requests $2 billion to build 82 miles of border wall, plans to divert an additional $7.2 billion from other accounts, and brings the total allocated over Trump’s term to $18 billion.
  • Includes $3.1 billion for 60,000 beds, in ICE detention centers, an increase of 6,000 beds from last year’s budget.
  • Adds $182 million to hire 750 new Border Patrol agents, a quarter more than last year, and $544 million to double Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff.
  • Calls for a 3.2-percent increase in funding for the Department of Homeland Security to carry out immigration enforcement and family separation, but cuts the Department of Justice by 2.3-percent for all federal law enforcement
  • Requires Social Security Number for public benefits
    • Discriminates against non-citizen residents who do not have a Social Security Number

Increases income inequality and racial wealth disparities through more tax cuts for the 1% and drastic cuts to safety net programs.

  • Permanently extends the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for high-income taxpayers
  • This will cost $1.4 trillion through 2030 for tax breaks for the wealthiest in our nation
  • Cuts SNAP by $182 billion (30% of the program) over ten years
  • Cuts basic assistance for those with disabilities through Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Reduces support for families experiencing poverty by cutting the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program by $20 billion over ten years
  • Eliminates the Social Services Block Grant

Decreases security in our nation’s elections.

  • Cuts the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency that secures our nation’s voting machines, by 14%
  • Diverts $1.1 billion on cybersecurity spending from the Federal Election Commission to the Department of Homeland Security

Inadequately invests in our nation’s dilapidated infrastructure.

  • Proposes $190 billion in one-time funding for a new infrastructure initiative
    • This investment in our nation’s housing and infrastructure is a short-term fix for a long, expensive problem
    • It will not be enough to adequately address our nation’s housing problem
  • Cuts various infrastructure programs that support highway, mass transit, airport, and port infrastructure through discretionary appropriations
  • Weakens community efforts to enable families to secure housing free from discrimination and fight housing policies that restrict housing access

President Trump continues to promise that he will protect the health care of working families, but his FY2021 budget proposal is just another attack on care for our nation’s most vulnerable. The Trump administration continues to gut the backbone of our nation’s social safety net by slashing funding for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as through continued attempts to enforce Medicaid work requirements. Also, by attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no suitable replacement, President Trump continues to jeopardize the lives of millions who rely on the ACA for quality and affordable care.

President Trump’s proposals shown above illustrate his misaligned priorities. Every dollar spent in carrying out punitive immigration policy, is a dollar less in critical human needs programs, serving communities across the country. President Trump is requesting a huge windfall for agencies that police, detain, and separate families, but neglects food security programs, health, and more. President Trump’s FY2021 budget is a statement of values, which show that the president is more concerned with funding his border wall than serving the people of the United States.

HUD Housing Rule Hurts Families

HUD Housing Rule Hurts Families

Elisa McCartin
August 27, 2019

This blog continues explaining the various rules changes proposed by the Trump administration which would hurt our country and make it harder to mend the gaps. Read blogs about additional proposed rules here:

Redefine the Poverty Line
Joint Employer Rule

President Trump’s Mixed-Status Family Housing Rule

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a proposed rule change that would prohibit families with one or more member who is ineligible from receiving HUD public housing or housing subsidies from accessing both these services—essentially barring mixed-status immigrant families from public housing. The NETWORK community submitted over 600 comments to HUD during the submission period which closed on July 8, 2019, strongly opposing the measure on behalf of our members and the immigrant community.

If implemented, the rule change would impact the 25,000 families with one or more ineligible member residing in HUD public housing. These families would be forced from their homes, displacing 108,000 people even though 70 percent are eligible to receive HUD services. Among the 108,000 to be evicted, 55,000 are children. Since these families already rely on subsidized housing, it is extremely unlikely they will be able to find replacement homes that they can afford. As a result, homelessness across the country will increase, dramatically harming the physical, economic, and psychological wellbeing of immigrant families. Such a policy reflects absolute neglect of the immigrant community. As one of the richest nations around the world, America ought to extend compassion and kindness to our neighbors. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has demonstrated a complete lack of grace and humanity with this proposed change.

Since thousands of families will face acute homelessness, this rule would force families to have to choose between their housing and staying together as a family—a truly inconceivable decision. To force families into this situation is immeasurably evil and cruel.

To defend their position, HUD’s leadership has presented this rule change with the argument that removing mixed-status immigrant families from public housing will open up more housing for U.S. citizens. This position is extremely misguided. Implementing this rule change would cost HUD millions of unnecessary funds, eliminating even existing affordable housing options. Under the current system, HUD pro-rates the housing subsidy per family based on the number of eligible members in each family. Families with more eligible members receive higher subsidies than those with fewer eligible members. With the proposed rule change, HUD would no longer be able to pro-rate any of its subsidies since every resident would be fully eligible to receive HUD benefits. A HUD report itself concluded that this would cost HUD $227 million. The same report noted that in order to cover these added costs, HUD would either have to reduce the quantity and quality of the public housing it offers or turn to taxpayers to foot the bill. The likelier scenario of reducing public housing availability would directly harm all residents of HUD housing and eliminate any chance of expanding public housing. The alternative of forcing taxpayers to pay off HUD’s debt is no better—hardworking individuals and families should not carry the burden of a sloppy, unnecessary, and underhanded HUD rule change.

NETWORK is committed to seeking solutions to the public housing crisis in the United States. There is an undeniable need to expand public housing options and reduce prices in order to substantially mend the gaps in our society. Instead of proposing measures that will limit public housing options and evict immigrant families, NETWORK urges HUD to find solutions that meaningfully address root causes and affirm their commitment to expanding affordable housing to every person in our country who needs it. We will continue to oppose HUD’s brutal proposal and defend immigrant families. Housing is a human right.

___________________________________________________________________________________ 

Elisa McCartin is a NETWORK volunteer and student at Georgetown University. 

Listen: Interfaith Partners Oppose the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule

Listen: Interfaith Partners Oppose the Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule

Lee Morrow
August 15, 2019

This week the Trump administration announced that their proposed changes to our nation’s public charge rule are scheduled go into effect in October. NETWORK and our fellow faith-based advocacy partners were compelled to respond. Representatives from MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Church World Service, the National Council of Jewish Women, and Faith in Public Life joined Sister Simone Campbell to denounce this harmful change to our nation’s immigration policy.

“The Trump Administration is making history in all the wrong ways,” said Liza Lieberman, Director of Public Policy for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “For the first time, U.S. immigration officials will be instructed to consider non-cash basic needs benefits (including vital food assistance from the SNAP) in considering immigrants’ qualifications for admission or adjustment of status. This is completely unacceptable—nobody should be forced to choose between accepting government assistance and living in safety in the country they call home. This policy is an affront to our Jewish values of compassion and nondiscrimination, as well as our deeply-held belief that everyone deserves access to the resources they need to feed themselves and their families.”

Faith William, Senior Manager of Government Affairs at the National Council of Jewish Women added, “Jews are an immigrant and refugee people – it’s part of our cultural DNA. We recognize that the rule, reportedly Stephen Miller’s “singular obsession,” is part of a larger effort by this administration to criminalize and marginalize people of color, including immigrants of color. The National Council of Jewish Women will not cease in its fight against this and other harmful anti-immigrant, anti-asylee, and anti-refugee policies.”

Sister Simone Campbell stated “This public charge rule is a full scale assault on hard working low wage workers…  These essential programs that they are legally entitled to are really the keys to being able to support their families and thrive here in the United States. President Trump is literally taking food off the tables of our neighbors.”

Share on Social Media:

National faith-based organizations condemn Trump Administration’s draconian #publiccharge rule. This is not who we are. Listen here: https://networklobby.org/20190815publiccharge/ @NETWORKLobby @MAZONusa @global_cws @NCJW @FaithPublicLife

.@DHSgov issued a final rule to radically expand the criteria for who could be considered a #publiccharge under U.S. immigration law. This will separate families & impact millions of people including U.S. citizens. @NETWORKLobby @MAZONusa @CWS_global @NCJW @FaithPublicLife Our interfaith response: https://networklobby.org/20190815publiccharge/

Trump’s #publiccharge rule change is sinful. Learn more about how faith-based organizations are fighting back: https://networklobby.org/20190815publiccharge/. @NETWORKLobby @MAZONusa @CWS_global @NCJW @FaithPublicLife

We’re proud to stand with our interfaith partners in opposition to Trump’s vindictive #publiccharge policy. This is the latest in a string of attacks on immigrant families, and it goes against our most basic values. #ProtectImmigrantFamilies https://networklobby.org/20190815publiccharge/ @NETWORKLobby @MAZONusa @global_cws @NCJW @FaithPublicLife

Mending the Gaps Experienced by the LGBTQ+ Community

Mending the Gaps Experienced by the LGBTQ+ Community

Siena Ruggeri
June 7, 2019

NETWORK is proud to have supported the recent passage of the Equality Act in the House, and we urge the Senate to also pass this important legislation. While the Equality Act would extend critical anti-discrimination protections to the LGBTQ+ community in both the workplace and housing, many of NETWORK’s Mend the Gaps other issues have a direct impact on the LGBTQ+ community. As we work to mend the gaps in our nation, it is important to consider the challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community and ways federal policies can reduce those challenges.

Paid family leave, for example, is a significant issue for LGBTQ+ families. Even in areas and workplaces that do offer paid leave, LGBTQ+ families face an extra hurdle to taking the necessary time they need to be with their families. According to a survey by the Human Rights Campaign, 27% of LGBTQ+ people of color and 16% of LGBTQ+ white people say they are afraid to request time off to care for a loved one because it might disclose their LGBTQ identity. 44% of LGBTQ+ people of color are afraid of losing their job if they took paid leave, compared to 37% of their white counterparts.

Paid family leave is already challenging to access for countless families. LGBTQ+ workers have to disclose their gender identity or sexual orientation in order to access paid leave, putting them in a highly vulnerable spot. In our efforts to expand access to paid leave, we must intentionally include all types of families. This is why legislation like the FAMILY Act (H.R.1185) is so important to advance — this policy has a broad definition of family, allowing for all types of families, biological and chosen, to take equal advantage of paid leave.

LGBTQ+ people may also face barriers to healthcare because of discrimination against their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. Just last week, the Trump administration proposed rolling back an Obama-era HHS rule called the Health Care Rights Law, which ensures healthcare providers cannot discriminate on the basis of sex. The rollback of this rule will strip away the protections established by the ACA, which were critical for LGBTQ+ healthcare access.

According to a 2015 report by the Center for American Progress, 23.5% of transgender respondents and 10.3% of LGBT people of color avoided doctors’ offices in the past year due to fear of discrimination. Ensuring affordable, accessible healthcare is an LGBTQ+ issue, and we must consider the unique challenges the community faces as we advocate for greater access to quality, affordable health care.

LGBTQ+ issues also intersect with immigration. Those who identify as lesbian, gay, and bisexual are three times more likely to be incarcerated. As a result, LGBTQ+ migrants are uniquely vulnerable to overpolicing, discrimination, and violence. There has also been an increase in violence towards undocumented LGBTQ+ people. According to the Center for American Progress, 6% of survivors of hate violence were LGBTQ in in 2014, compared to 17% in 2015. While immigrants already face discrimination, those who also identify as LGBTQ+ face even more danger.

The threat of deportation is also a life or death issue for countless LGBTQ+ migrants. 76 countries allow the criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity. This means many of our nation’s refugees seeking asylum are fleeing their home countries based on the threat of violence due to their LGBTQ+ identities. By denying asylum claims and deporting undocumented LGBTQ+ immigrants, our nation is putting their lives at risk. The Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants puts already vulnerable LGBTQ+ immigrants in dangerous, often life-threatening situations.

The experiences of the LGBTQ+ community intersect with each of NETWORK’s Mend the Gaps issues. This Pride Month, we continue to work toward federal policies that bring justice and equality for the LGBTQ+ community in the United States.