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.
June 25, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) is calling for the Senate to lift restrictions that make it harder for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to provide legal services to low-income people.
The LSC is a non-profit corporation created by Congress in 1974 to ensure equal access to justice for millions of Americans who need but cannot pay for a lawyer. The LSC is primarily funded by Congress and gives grants to free legal aid organizations around the country that help low-income Americans with legal matters.
In a letter to the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, LCCR said: "In these times of economic distress, when more and more people require help in battling foreclosure and eviction, securing unemployment and benefits, and dealing with medical and insurance matters, the Senate must assist those most vulnerable by funding the LSC sufficiently and by lifting no-cost restrictions."
Since the 1990s, the LSC has suffered budget cuts and a number of restrictions – including those preventing legal aid lawyers from collecting attorneys' fees and LSC clients from joining class action lawsuits – which have forced it to turn away nearly a million cases a year. The House passed a budget recently that included significant increases in funding and removed the restriction on the collection of attorneys' fees, but left in place many of the other restrictions. The Senate is expected to consider the funding bill for the LSC this week.
June 12, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Urban poverty and climate change significantly affect low-income and minority communities. A new Hip Hop Caucus campaign, Green The Block, aims to educate and mobilize urban and low-income youth to push public policies that address poverty and climate change at the same time.
In this video segment from CNN, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, shares his hope that creating a green economy with more jobs will enable unemployed people in low-income communities to work.
May 27, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
You may think that not owning a home will protect you from foreclosure - but an estimated 40 percent of households facing eviction due to foreclosure are renters, not homeowners. Many renters have been evicted from their homes with little or no notice - sometimes with no idea that a foreclosure was pending - after their landlords were unable to pay their mortgages.
But renters now have some protection against eviction under the foreclosure prevention bill signed by President Obama last week. The new law, which took effect immediately, requires the new owners of a property to allow tenants to remain in the home, as long as the tenants pay their rent on time. Renters will be able to stay until the end of their lease, or will get at least 90 days notice if they do not have a lease or if the new owner intends to reside in the home.
May 18, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Nationally, nearly 500,000 children are currently in foster care. Children from families in crisis are some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and the foster care system gives many of these children a safe place to stay, whether it be for a few days or many years.
National Foster Care Month recognizes all the people who serve as foster parents, relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, social workers, and volunteers.
However, the foster care system faces a lot of challenges, such as a lack of available foster parents, and a shortage of funding for child protection agencies that don't have the resources and staff they need to make sure that all foster homes are safe homes.
Another challenge is helping the more than 25,000 young people who age out of the foster care system each year - at anywhere between age 18 and age 21, depending on the state. The first years of adulthood are a challenge to all young people, but especially for those without family support. States provide some assistance to youth who are making the transition from foster care to living on their own, but many of these young people still face an increased risk of homelessness, poverty, health problems, and unemployment.
Visit the National Foster Care Month website to find out ways you can help children and teens in foster care by volunteering, by advocating for laws and policies that help foster children, or by becoming a mentor, respite care provider, or foster parent.
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.
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