Have you ever had to choose between medicine and gasoline? What about rent and car insurance? How about keeping your phone on and electricity? Every day, these are the sorts of decisions that far too many people living in the United States have to make.
Poverty remains stubbornly and unacceptably high according to new data released in September by the Census Bureau. But most of us already knew that – we see our neighbors struggling to pay rent, feed their families, and provide for basic necessities. Others of us need to look no further than our own pocketbooks to see the impact of unemployment and underemployment.
Many of our legislators have never experienced poverty and yet, stubbornly refuse to provide the proper supports needed to help families thrive.
Congress needs a full-year plan to increase funds for vital programs like housing, Head Start, job training, child care, and education – while protecting and expanding low-income tax credits and critical programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps).
"As a working single mother of three children, government assistance programs are critical for the survival of my family", says 9to5 Wisconsin member Brandy Cotton. "While working several low paid jobs to make ends meet over the years, I couldn't cover all housing expenses while caring for my children on my salary alone. At a time in my life when I felt hopeless and unsure of the future, such programs as SNAP and Section 8 subsidized housing kept me afloat in order to keep going forward."
Brandy is now enrolled in a business degree program and is working towards becoming a homeowner. Without receiving much needed government assistance, Brandy would have been living even closer to the edge. Cutting programs like these is not what women need and it's not what working families need.
9to5 Colorado member Kinyata Fulton says, "I lost my job when my son was 6 month old, and SNAP made all the difference in me being able to provide healthful eating for us both. Because of SNAP I can rest assured that we will have food. I can pack my son a lunch of hot food with fruit and variety. This program allows me to not have to choose between diapers and gas, or child care or clothes for winter."
At a time when poverty and food insecurity remain high, and progress is slow, we know that we need more investments in the programs that help us and our communities from falling even deeper into despair. Unfortunately, Congress’s recent stop-gap spending measure will put harmful cuts known as sequestration in place. (Check out this infographic to learn more and then share on Facebook to make sure your friends know too!)
Congress has a choice to make – stand with women and working families or continue to stand in the way and try to push us down. Contact your elected officials today and let them know that the right choice is to stop the cuts and help all families thrive.