At the Tops market in Buffalo, New York on May 14, people were doing ordinary things. Picking up groceries after visiting a husband in a nursing home; buying a birthday cake for a son. We don’t often think about the ordinary people around us, about how they enrich the life of our communities. But in that viciously cruel moment at the Tops market, ten important lives were ended – people whose days were filled with support for their families and communities.
Rook Bazinet, at just 18 years old, experienced homelessness for the first time while working as a partner at a Starbucks in Massachusetts. The recent high school graduate would arrive at all of his Starbucks shifts between two and three hours early and stay between two and three hours late to sit in the cafe, his only opportunity for reliable internet access. Rook is one of many Americans who experience unreliable internet connection, something which the Biden Administration has begun to tackle.
In August of 2021, George Washington University law student Dylan Basescu, along with 50 or so other protesters, staged a sit-in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol protesting the end of the CDC’s moratorium on evictions. Four months later, he was evicted right in the midst of his law school finals. Dylan is among the new generation of housing advocates inspired by the growing inequality and housing crisis in this country.
For some time now, we’ve known about many of the ways expanded, monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments helped families most in need. A new Brookings Institute report now informs us of other ways families with low incomes benefited. In short: they were less likely to pursue costly, alternative financial services such as payday loans, pawn shops, and even such measures as selling blood plasma in order to survive.
The United States is home to 11.4 million babies who make up 3.4 percent of the nation’s population. How are they doing during the ongoing pandemic? A new report provides a rich set of answers to that question. The young children’s advocacy group ZERO TO THREE this week released its fourth annual State of Babies Yearbook that explores how babies are faring over a very wide range of indicators, and compares states’ policies toward their youngest residents.
The subvariants of subvariants edition. When the pandemic was declared in March 2020, scientists had one cause for optimism: the COVID-19 virus appeared to mutate slowly. That meant when a vaccine was developed, it might not need regular updating over time. However, now we are learning that scientists’ early optimism was misplaced. And each major variant that has emerged has proven to be more infectious than its predecessor – a pattern scientists have no reason to believe will end.
I personally grew up in poverty and almost never had enough to eat. Sometimes my school lunch was the only thing I had to eat all day. While it still hurts to think about the times I had to ask, I am so grateful my classmates were willing to share their leftovers with me. I feel with my entire being for children who might not have friends with extra food – or access to free lunches.
Nearly 18 million Americans could lose health coverage while millions more will see sharp increases in the premiums they pay, as a number of pandemic-related provisions aimed at making health care both more affordable and accessible are set to expire.
Eight months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal eviction moratorium. At the time, affordable housing advocates and other experts warned of an approaching “tsunami” of evictions. Today there is some good news to report, with a large asterisk. Evictions did increase in the U.S. after the moratorium was lifted. But the eviction rate did not rise as quickly as anticipated, and, in fact, it remains significantly below pre-pandemic levels.
As a social worker running an organization that helps others, I have been astonished by the lack of foresight among politicians that are not rallying behind the Build Back Better Bill in Congress. And while I am sad on behalf of my clients — I’ve seen first hand the difference things like the Child Tax Credit have made in their lives — I’m mostly sad for the country. A little bit of help at just the right time can make a huge difference in people’s lives. Take me, for example, I was able to get ahead — and build an organization that gives back — because of services that now may be denied to others.
If you’re looking to get out and about, and maybe unleash a bit of pent-up activism, opportunities abound. Whether it’s advocating on behalf of COVID survivors, in favor of the expanded Child Tax Credit, or simply want to see Congress enact more family-friendly policies, a number of activities are on the horizon.
Hunger is once again on the rise in America. Experts say it is about to get worse – and it could get a lot worse.