More than 350 groups tell Congress: Pass a full-year FY 2022 spending bill to address years of stagnation and cuts in human needs programs
More than 350 local, state, and national organizations Thursday urged Congress to pass an FY 2022 appropriations bill in order to reverse years of stagnation and even cuts to programs covering a vast array of human needs. The text of the letter delivered to Congress today as well as the more than 350 signers can be found here.
“It is good news that congressional leaders appear to be making progress in recent talks,” said Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs. “Progress is badly needed because of so many urgent needs, including reducing the record-breaking surge in drug overdose deaths, helping people to cope with rising rents and heating bills, helping children overcome their alarming pandemic educational losses, reducing hunger among seniors and children, reducing the racial/gender wage gap, and helping families afford child care.”
On Thursday, CHN also released a new analysis that shows two-thirds of federal human needs programs tracked by CHN lost ground from 2010 to 2021, taking inflation into account; nearly one-third have lost 20 percent of funding or more. “Continuing the frozen funding levels prevents us from addressing a number of crises Americans face,” Weinstein said. “President Biden and House appropriators have proposed increased funding in vital areas that are essential to helping us address long-standing problems as well as the pandemic’s worsening of those problems. Now it is time for the Senate to follow.”
The sign-on letter to Congress notes that inadequate, flat funding over the past decade has caused many human needs programs to lose ground. “Whether serving health, education and training, child welfare, nutrition, substance use disorders, housing or other needs, appropriated programs cannot meet today’s demand with yesterday’s inadequate funding,” it states.
The more than 350 groups signing the letter focus on a host of essential services in order to meet the needs of the young and aging, workers, people with disabilities, the poor, families and retirees, immigrants, students and youth disconnected from education, women, and people of color.
The letter cites a number of examples of the dire need for a fully funded, one-year appropriations bill:
- Deaths from opioid overdoses leapt to 100,000 for the period ending in April 2021, up from 78,056 the year before.
- Rents rose an average 14 percent last year, with rents in previously lower-cost states such as Florida, Ohio, and Texas jumping 25 percent or more. During the past month, 15 percent of renters were behind in rent; that was true of 18 percent of Hispanic renters and 23 percent of Black renters.
- Hunger is rising, with close to 2.6 million people 65 and older reporting in January that their households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the previous week, up from about 1.8 million six months ago. More than 10 million people in households with children reported going without enough food during the same period.
- Children have been falling behind in their education due to the pandemic; overall, progress in math declined by 10.4 percent as of January 23, 2022, with losses of 18.2 percent in low-income communities. Such severe declines are widening racial gaps as well.
- With utility bills rising, nearly one in five people reported that their households were unable to pay some or all of their energy bills for at least one month in the past year; this was true of 39 percent for people in households with low incomes, and over 30 percent in households of color.
- More than 16 million people with children younger than 5 had work interrupted or had to leave work altogether because their children couldn’t attend child care due to concerns about COVID.
- Employment rates dropped 11.6 percent in jobs paying below median income (below $37,000), but rose 8.1 percent for jobs paying above median wages. Many workers who held below-median wage jobs need training to fill jobs with higher pay, but most federal job training programs have declined by 18 percent or more since FY 2010.
Many millions of people are going without the help they need because of Congress’ delay in passing appropriations that respond to our current problems,” the sign-on letter concludes. “Please do not delay any longer; enact an omnibus appropriations bill as soon as possible.”