On Sunday, May 12, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show dedicated both hours of the program to exploring whether poverty in America can be solved. The Tulane professor of political science and political commentator asks, ‘What are our nation’s creative, humane, enduring solutions to poverty? Seriously, what are they?’
NLCHP’s policy director, Jeremy Rosen, was one of several guests invited to discuss real solutions to poverty, hunger, homelessness.
Melissa Harris-Perry, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, the Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center James Perry, formerly homeless mother Tiana Gaines-Turner, and our own Jeremy Rosen discussed the implications of the housing market’s roaring return for people experiencing homelessness. Jeremy reminded the audience that homelessness is a housing issue, and without structural and policy investments toward affordable housing, the housing market’s return will not mean a reduction in rates of homelessness.
Understanding the root causes of poverty is necessary for enacting social change, and so too is listening to the challenges of people experiencing poverty. Jeremy commented, “I’d like to see more politicians do what I know Mayor Booker of Newark and others have done – take the food stamp challenge, actually spend a week or a month trying to live on food stamps. If you do that, I think how you will see how quickly the demagoguery stops and politicians begin to understand the problems that low-income Americans are facing.’
Jeremy condemned the House Agriculture Committee’s vote to cut $20 billion from SNAP, noting that the program functions effectively to meet the rising needs of people during a recession. SNAP is designed is to act as a safety net for the symptoms of poverty as a result of economic inequality, not as a solution to the root causes of hunger or poverty. For this, Jeremy stressed that policy must address rising food costs, rising housing costs, and the lack of decent paying jobs.
Here at the Law Center, we work every day to support our nation’s creative, human and enduring solutions to homelessness and poverty.