A Grateful Letter to Human Needs Advocates
This is a year in which 3.8 million children were kept from poverty by the Child Tax Credit. They were among the 61 million children benefiting from monthly CTC payments, in 39 million families.
As 2021 draws to a close, this historic achievement is something the Biden Administration and a slim majority in Congress can take pride in. You – advocates for meeting human needs – share in that pride. And not just for the Child Tax Credit, but for wide-ranging help with food, housing, education, and health care – all designed to protect Americans from COVID’s consequences.
How wonderful it would be if this could be a letter of pure celebration – that we as a nation had progressed from urgently needed protections to investments to build our future. We are not there yet. But your unflagging commitment will get us there.
We have to get there because of Rose Lilly and her grandson, of Princeton, West Virginia, an “…elder, with the most awesome, intelligent, loving grandson with cerebral Palsy, grad. with honors, earned a scholarship to college, but did not have funds for one on one aide, who now is 25 and a beautiful mind wanting a good life going to be put in a home, God be with him and never take our loved ones away from us.”
We have to get there for Kelly Bonner and her four sons, three of whom qualified for $750 in Child Tax Credits. Laid off from her waitress job in Christiansburg, Virginia, Kelly struggled to get by with unemployment benefits and SNAP food aid, wiping out her savings, without enough to afford nutritious foods. Their first CTC payment paid for a $550 car repair so Kelly could take her youngest son with autism to his therapy appointments. She could buy better food, and take her sons to a pool during the summer.
We have to get there because so many of our neighbors are behind in their rent, struggling with low pay, still threatened by the pandemic, still fearful of losing family members to deportation or illness.
We have a future to build. Yes, we must Build Back Better, by investing in protections against climate disaster, health disaster, and the injustice that makes people with low incomes and people of color so much more susceptible to disaster. Building Back Better means at least starting to require the ultra-rich and corporations to pay their fair share towards the investments our nation needs.
We have come so far in this past year. President Biden and congressional leaders, responding to your work, have enacted the American Rescue Plan and infrastructure legislation. They – with your help – have crafted the Build Back Better plan to sustain and advance this progress. Right now it is stuck. We cannot allow it to fail.
Your friends and admirers at the Coalition on Human Needs are so grateful for the work we are doing together. We have learned from each other, supported each other, and have started the essential work of showing the need for a comprehensive approach. We know that more child care and home care workers earning decent pay helps build communities. We know that people with health care and affordable housing gain stability that helps them and their children. We know that the pandemic has hurt our children in so many ways we must urgently address. We know pernicious inequities of race and poverty are holding us back. We have started this work – but there is still so much more to do.
Now, in this season of love and hope, we wish you respite and joy, health and connection to loved ones. Rest up. Enjoy as many full-throated laughs as you can. Eat something delicious. Hug when it’s safe! Live in peace.
See you next year!
Deborah Weinstein and all your friends at the Coalition on Human Needs