Archives: Voices

CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, October 6, 2023

The care is infrastructure edition. When Americans think of infrastructure, we tend to think of roads, bridges, tunnels, and railways. And it is true that much physical repair is needed – that’s why Congress passed and President Biden signed bipartisan infrastructure legislation last year. But care is infrastructure as well. When human needs advocates think about care infrastructure, they usually talk about high-quality, accessible, and affordable child care; paid family and medical leave; home- and community-based services (HCBS) and support; and the care workforce.

A wakeup call on poverty

This fall, the Census Bureau released new poverty data showing a stunning reversal in economic security over the course of last year. The findings included a record jump in the Supplemental Poverty Measure just one year after hitting a record low. Child poverty doubled.

Shutdown central.

Editor’s note: Many Americans believe that most federal workers live in or around Washington, D.C. In reality, federal workers live in every state in the country, every congressional district, and every U.S. territory. For example, the “red” states of Alabama, Utah, and West Virginia have a disproportionate number of federal workers, compared to the national average.  This CHN blog post, published on January 17, 2019 during the longest shutdown in U.S. history, examines how communities in Huntsville, Alabama, Ogden, Utah, and Clarksville, West Virginia were affected.

Poverty just jumped — and it was no accident.

After hitting a record low of 7.8 percent in 2021, new data shows the government’s Supplemental Poverty Measure jumped to 12.4 percent last year. That’s a nearly 60 percent increase. And it’s all because politicians allowed proven income support programs to expire. I’m an expert on poverty. I’ve lived it most of my life in Iowa. I studied it as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow in rural West Virginia and in Washington, D.C.. And now I help people experiencing poverty across the country tell their own stories to change policy.

CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, September 26, 2023

The shutdown and deep cuts twin-threat edition. A small group of House Republicans want extreme cuts and items from the right-wing wish list in federal spending bills, If Speaker McCarthy would allow a stopgap spending bill that would be acceptable on a bipartisan basis to come to the floor, it would pass. But so far he is trying for a Republican bill, and so he – and the nation – are being held hostage. The twin threats before us are a (1) shutdown that, if it lasts longer than a few days, will slow or stop services, hurt workers, and threaten the economy and (2) ever harsher cuts and restrictions demanded as the price of keeping the government open.   

Plunging millions back into poverty: After historic reduction in 2021, some in Congress forced a painful reversal

In 2021, poverty and child poverty declined to historic lows. There were 3.37 million fewer poor children in 2021 than in 2020, a drop from 9.7 percent to 5.2 percent of children in poverty in just that one year.  But in 2022, this unprecedented progress was painfully reversed. The number of poor children rose by a stunning 5.1 million children over the previous year, increasing to 12.4 percent of all children. 

681 groups tell Congress: Responsibly fund needed services and reject the chaos of a government shutdown 

The Coalition on Human Needs and 681 local, state, and national groups delivered a message to Congress Tuesday: do your duty and keep government running. The groups delivered a letter to every member of the House and Senate urging passage of a clean, bipartisan continuing resolution (CR), including “emergency funding that supports current services and addresses urgent needs and is free of poison pill policy riders that are harmful and irrelevant to the functions of government.” 

CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, September 11, 2023

The not everyone back to school edition. It’s September, and our children really should be back at school. But millions are missing – described as chronically absent. Why? Part of the explanation may be academic disengagement during the pandemic. Another part is the nation’s youth mental health crisis – the two causes are probably related, although the youth mental health crisis existed before the pandemic began.  

Survey: The end of expanded Child Tax Credit payments led to financial stress for many 

When expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments ended in December 2021, many families had a harder time paying bills and putting food on the table, and their levels of financial stress increased. That’s one of many findings of a recently released survey of more than 1,000 households that received in the benefits in the continental U.S., and another 500 households in Puerto Rico. 

With Tuesday’s announcement, lower drug prices closer for millions of Americans 

A key provision to reduce prices for seniors came closer to reality Tuesday as the Biden Administration announced the first ten prescription drugs that will be subject to price negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and Medicare. Under the Inflation Reduction Act, Medicare now has the power to directly negotiate drug prices with manufacturers for the first time in the federal program’s nearly 60-year history.