In a CNN interview last week, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney assured a reporter that he is “not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” There’s so much wrong with that statement. The assumption that the government’s current programs to alleviate poverty are sufficient is a total myth.
As the discrepancy between housing costs and income continues to widen, more and more families and individuals are at risk of ending up on the street. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, over 1.5 million children are homeless each year. That’s clearly unacceptable.
Public housing is sometimes available, but the average wait for a Section 8 voucher is up to 35 months. That’s a long time, and it leaves many families on the street without shelter. It’s unclear how a presidential candidate could look at that information and conclude that the safety-net is adequate.
Over 15 percent of Americans – a stunning 45 million people – are living in poverty. That means, by his own admission, Romney is ignoring one in seven Americans. A high percentage of poor people are employed, but as Law Center Executive Director Maria Foscarinis points out: “Wages, especially for unskilled and less-skilled workers, haven’t kept pace with the cost of living, and it is not enough or barely enough to cover basic needs.” In 2012, the Federal Poverty Level for a family of four is $22,350; however, on average, a family needs at least twice that to meet the most basic needs. That leaves millions of families on the brink of homelessness each day.
Now more than ever, increased funding is needed to address the growing needs of homeless and poor people. Cutting government spending on programs that provide housing and food security would be disastrous in this economy. If presidential candidates are under the impression that this group of individuals is not of concern because of existing federal programs, they need to be educated about the realities of homelessness and poverty.
Let’s hope people realize their obligation to those less fortunate, and open their eyes to our country’s inequality.
What do you think? Leave a comment below to let us know.
– Megan Huber, Development & Communications Intern