Poverty & Welfare
There has long been a close association between the struggle for civil rights and the fight against poverty in the United States. The drive to dismantle segregation and defeat discrimination has been centered on the need to open the gates of economic opportunity, mostly closed to minorities, women, and other by both governmental and private action.
May 18, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
A payday loan store in Henrico County, VA. Photo credit: Andrew Bain.
Today's Washington Post article, Poor? Pay Up, details how low-income people often end up paying more for basic goods and services - both in money and time - than middle-class people pay for the same items.
For example, in Washington, D.C., where LCCR/EF's office is located, some low-income neighborhoods don't have a supermarket. If you don't have a car, you can either go to a corner store, where you would pay $3.79 for a loaf of wheat bread, or you could take the bus to a supermarket in another part of the city, where you would get that loaf of bread for only $1.19 - but you've wasted hours waiting for and taking the bus to get to the store.
The article also details the problems caused by payday lenders, to whom low-income people often turn if they need money quickly for unplanned expenses such as car repairs, prescriptions, or higher-than-usual utility bills. It's fairly easy to get a short-term loan, but you may end up paying fees and interest that add up to an annual percentage rate of more than 400 percent. In contrast, the average rate for credit cards in the United States is less than 15 percent. Payday lending is currently legal in 37 states.
May 14, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Rep. John Conyers, D. Mich., speaking on a panel with representatives from the Inter-Alliance Dialogue at an ad-hoc hearing sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus on May 12, 2009.
Organizations that advocate for working-class Americans, such as the Institute for Policy Studies and Jobs with Justice, recently formed a coalition called the Inter-Alliance Dialogue to address the needs of low-income workers, minorities, domestic workers, day laborers, and other groups most affected by the recession.
In recent months, employers have been eliminating jobs at a rate of about half a million per month, causing many people to lose their homes and healthcare, especially low-income workers and minorities.
The groups that make up the Inter-Alliance Dialogue are urging Congress to address the needs of low-wage workers, by:
April 8, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Source: John Holahan and Bowen Garrett, Rising Unemployment, Medicaid, and the Uninsured, prepared for the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, 2009.
With unemployment rates for racial minorities exceeding the national average, minorities continue to be disproportionately affected by the economic downturn and overrepresented among the people who lack health insurance.
In March, the White unemployment rate was 7.9 percent compared to 11.4 percent for Latinos and 13.3 percent for African Americans.
Overall, the nation's unemployment rate reached a 26-year high, up from 12.5 million in February (8.1 percent) to 13.2 million in March (8.5 percent), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
March 27, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
The National Urban League (NUL) recently released its annual report, "The State of Black America 2009: Message to the President," which examines the issues central to Black America in this year.
The report includes an Equality Index, which is a ratio that shows how well African Americans are doing compared to Whites in the areas of economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement.
According to the index, African Americans are still twice as likely as Whites to be unemployed, three times more likely to live in poverty and more than six times as likely to be incarcerated.
This report also contains essays by noted figures like Sen. Christopher Dodd, D. Conn., and Rep. Barbara Lee, D. Calif., about how issues like high foreclosure rates, unemployment, and health care are affecting African Americans.
March 11, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
In this interview on Oprah Radio, civil rights and environmental advocate Van Jones addresses the environmental injustices that occur in low-income and minority communities, including access to healthy and affordable food, clean air, and clean water.
Jones, founder of Green For All, is a strong advocate for creating 'green jobs' as a way to revitalize communities and lift individuals out of poverty. Yesterday, President Obama appointed him to serve as special advisor for green jobs, enterprise and innovation.
LCCR will honor Jones at its annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award Dinner on May 7.
March 10, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
The National Center on Family Homelessness released a report today that found that 1.5 million children in the U.S. experienced homelessness at least once in a given year.
The report, which analyzes data from 2005 and 2006, also examines the impact of homelessness on children's education and health. Typically, homeless children lead extremely difficult lives because they do not have access to privacy or health care and often attend school infrequently.
The report recommends that local, state and federal governments take action in order to prevent and end child homelessness. For example, the report suggests that the federal government set aside a third of housing program funding specifically for homeless families and families who are at risk of homelessness. In addition, state interagency councils on homelessness handling homelessness should make family homelessness a priority.
February 20, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
The recently enacted economic recovery plan will provide some much needed relief to millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet during the recession, particularly unemployed people.
The plan extends unemployment benefits up to an additional 33 weeks for workers who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits, and increases weekly unemployment checks by $25 through the end of 2009. In addition, food stamp benefits will be increased by 13.6% starting in April.
Economists say increasing funding for both unemployment benefits and food stamps will have an immediate stimulative effect on the economy since those receiving the aid will likely spend it quickly.
In addition, 46 states are facing huge budget deficits over the next three years and have been struggling to continue providing welfare and health care assistance to low-income and unemployed people. Under the plan, states will get nearly $5 billion so they can continue to help low-income families through the federal welfare assistance program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Currently, about 4 million people receive assistance through the program. Another $87 billion will go to states to help them continue to provide health care assistance through Medicaid.
February 19, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Movies and music can be powerful reflections of our times, past and present, and tell stories that inform and empower millions of people in ways other media cannot. This week, we highlight four Oscar-nominated films that have found compelling ways to tell stories about civil and human rights. The Oscars will be shown on TV this Sunday, February 22.
"Trouble the Water," a documentary that tells the story of the devastation Hurricane Katrina caused through the eyes of a couple from New Orleans' 9th ward, has been nominated for an Oscar in the Documentary Feature category.
The documentary, directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, uses footage filmed by Kimberly Roberts, an aspiring rapper known as Black Kold Madina, and her husband during the hurricane and chronicles their lives in the aftermath of the storm. The Roberts were unable to leave the city and captured the storm as it hit one of the poorest neighborhoods of the city.
By combining the Roberts' footage with archival news footage, the documentary draws attention to the disproportionate impact the hurricane had on New Orleans' poorer residents and the inability of the federal and state governments to respond effectively to the crisis.
Healthy Food Advocates Push for Better Standards in Reauthorization of Federal Child Nutrition Programs
February 13, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
With the number of overweight children between the ages of six and 11 having more than doubled in the past 20 years, healthy food advocates are urging Congress to make sure that federal child nutrition programs are updated to meet the challenges of providing healthy meals to the nation's children.
More Information On
In The News
Recent news clips on this issue.