12 Things You Can Do to Fight Poverty Right Now

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We’re proud to collaborate with The Nation in sharing insightful journalism related to income inequality in America. The following is an excerpt from Nation contributor Greg Kaufmann’s “This Week in Poverty” column.

In this March 29, 2013 photo, women walk past blighted row houses in Baltimore. Baltimore is far from the worst American city for poverty, but it faces all the problems of cities where vast numbers of the poor now live. The U.S. Census Bureau puts the number of Americans in poverty at levels not seen since the mid-1960s, while $85 billion in federal government spending cuts that began last month are expected to begin squeezing services for the poor nationwide. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
In this March 29, 2013 photo, women walk past blighted row houses in Baltimore. The U.S. Census Bureau puts the number of Americans in poverty at levels not seen since the mid-1960s, while $85 billion in federal government spending cuts that began last month are expected to begin squeezing services for the poor nationwide. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

This is a tough moment in the fight against poverty.

Sequester is the latest chapter in a time-honored tradition of kicking the poor when they are down. A do-nothing Congress certainly isn’t going to do something about poverty without pressure from the grassroots. And it seems that the only way most of the mainstream media will pay attention to the more than 1 out of 3 Americans living below twice the poverty line — on less than $36,000 for a family of three — is if their lives make good fodder for tabloid television or play out in a courtroom drama.

That said, there are still plenty of people and groups fighting for real change, and plenty of ways you can get involved or stay engaged. I reached out to a handful of folks who dedicate their lives to fighting poverty in different ways. Here is what they asked people to do:


From Sister Simone Campbell, Sisters of Social Service, Executive Director of NETWORK: “Support an increase in the minimum wage to more than $11 per hour.”

What people don’t know is that a large percentage of people living in poverty are workers who support their families on very small salaries. In fact, 57 percent of individuals and family members below the official poverty line either worked or lived with a working family member in 2011.

Pope Francis said on May 1, 2013, that all workers should make wages that allow them to live with their families in dignity. Contact your senators and representative and urge them to vote for a minimum wage (that is more than $11 an hour) and tipped minimum wage that reflect the dignity of ALL people.


From the Coalition of Immokalee Workers: “Tell Publix: Help end sexual harassment, wage theft and forced labor in the fields — join the Fair Food Program today.” 

Until very recently, Florida’s fields were as famous for producing human rights violations — with countless workers suffering daily humiliation and abuse ranging from wage theft to sexual harassment and even forced labor — as they were for growing oranges and tomatoes.

Today, however, there is a new day dawning for farmworkers in Florida’s tomato fields. The CIW’s Fair Food Program is demanding a policy of zero tolerance for human rights abuses on tomato farms, and it’s working. The program sets the highest human rights standards in the fields today, including: worker-to-worker education on rights, a 24-hour complaint line and an effective complaint investigation and resolution process — all backed by market consequences for employers who refuse to respect their workers’ rights.

The White House recently called the exciting new program “one of the most successful and innovative programs” in the world today in the fight to uncover — and prevent — modern-day slavery; and just last week United Nations investigators called it “impressive” and praised its “independent and robust enforcement mechanism.”

As the veteran food writer Barry Estabrook put it, thanks to the Fair Food Program, the Florida tomato industry is on the path “from being one of the most repressive employers in the country… to becoming the most progressive group in the fruit and vegetable industry” today.

But we need your help to complete this transformation.

One of the country’s largest supermarket chains, Publix Super Markets, is refusing to support the Fair Food Program. Publix continues to buy tomatoes from growers in the old way, where workers have no access to the Fair Food Program’s proven protections. Rather than step up to the highest human rights standards, Publix continues to turn its back on the workers whose poverty helps fuel its record profits.

Tell Publix Super Markets CEO William Crenshaw to join the fight against human rights abuses in the U.S. tomato industry.


From Ralph da Costa Nunez, President and CEO, Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness“Make a Personal Commitment to Helping Homeless Families”

More than one-third of Americans who use shelters annually are parents and their children. In 2011, that added up to more than 500,000 people. Since 2007, family homelessness has increased by more than 13 percent. Indeed, there is a growing prevalence of child and family homelessness across America.

While it is important to track the federal, state and local policies that impact homelessness, we can’t forget about getting involved on a personal level with the growing numbers of families that are struggling since the Great Recession.

You can visit a local shelter, meet a homeless family and see first hand the damage poverty is doing to young mothers and children. Then, become a big brother or sister, a role model for these young families to help them dream again. You are meeting an immediate need while also helping to stem generational poverty.

You can also contact your local department of social services, United Way, or religious organization to find out where the need is in your community. Also, speak with the homeless liaison at your local school to see what needs they have identified in your neighborhood. There are many ways that you (and your children) can help families right in your community. Here are a few other ideas.


From Dr. Deborah Frank, Founder and Principal Investigator, Children’s HealthWatch: “Fund the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) at the maximum authorized level”

Research by Children’s HealthWatch has shown that energy insecurity is associated with poor health, increased hospitalizations and risk of developmental delays in very young children, and that energy assistance can be effective in protecting children’s health.  The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides low-income households with assistance in paying their utility bills — particularly those that must spend higher proportions of their income on home energy. To be eligible for LIHEAP, families must have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level — less than $35,000 annually for a family of four.

When Children’s HealthWatch compared children in families that do and do not receive LIHEAP assistance — after controlling for participation in SNAP and WIC — we found that children in families that received LIHEAP were less likely to be at risk of growth problems, more likely to have healthier weights for their age and less likely to be hospitalized when seeking care for acute medical problems.

As pediatricians and public health researchers, we at Children’s HealthWatch know that LIHEAP matters for the bodies and minds of young children. Even in these tough economic times, we believe it is critical that President Obama and Congress make a funding commitment that meets the heating and cooling needs of America’s youngest children.

But the president has proposed reducing funding for LIHEAP to $2.970 billion in his FY 2014 budget, down from $3.5 billion for the current fiscal year. (Even funding at the current level has left millions of households without the aid they need to cope with their home energy costs.) Please join the National Fuel Fund’s call to fund LIHEAP at $4.7 billion in FY2014. Although that level is insufficient to meet the full needs of vulnerable households, it will enable states to end a trend over the last few years of needing to reduce the number of households served, cut benefits, or both. Contact the president and your members of Congress today.


Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work and Co-Director, Caring Across Generations: “Support of a living wage and basic labor protections for home care workers”

Caring Across Generations is a campaign that unites people to change the long-term care system that supports each of us, our family members and our neighbors, to live and age in our own homes and communities. One of the key ways we can strengthen this system is to protect the 2.5 million people working as care givers in the United States. With a projected future demand for an additional 1.3 million workers over the next decade, home care workers make up one of the largest occupations in the nation, yet many of them make below minimum wage.

In December 2011, at a White House ceremony surrounded by home care workers, employers and people who rely on personal care services, President Obama announced plans for new regulations that would at long last guarantee federal minimum wage and overtime protections for most home care aides. The moment capped decades of effort by advocates to revise the “companionship exemption,” which lumps professional care workers with teenage babysitters, excluding most home care aides from the basic labor protections that nearly all other American workers receive.

Following the White House announcement, the U.S. Department of Labor published draft regulations in the Federal Register. During the public comment period, the proposed rule received 26,000 comments with almost 80 percent in favor of providing home care workers with basic labor protections like minimum wage and overtime pay. But today, over a year after the public comment period closed, we are still waiting for a final rule to be announced.

Join Caring Across Generations and all of our partner organizations in the effort to push for basic minimum wage and overtime protections for care workers, and help us in our final push to ensure that the Obama Administration issues this long-awaited regulation to give 2.5 million care workers a path out of poverty. Visit www.caringacross.org to get involved with the campaign.


 From Judith Lichtman, Senior Advisor, National Partnership for Women & Families: “Urge Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1286/S.631) and a national paid leave program”

More than 40 million workers in this country — and more than 80 percent of the lowest-wage workers — cannot earn a single paid sick day to use when they get the flu or other common illnesses. Millions more cannot earn paid sick days to use when a child is sick.

For these workers and families, paid sick days can mean the difference between keeping a job and losing it, or keeping food on the table and going hungry. Nearly one-quarter of adults say they have lost a job or been threatened with job loss for needing a sick day. And, for the average worker without paid sick days, taking just 3.5 unpaid days off is equivalent to losing a month’s worth of groceries for their family. To make matters worse, the majority of new parents cannot take any form of paid leave of any length to care for a child, pushing many into debt and poverty. The United States is one of only a handful of countries that does not have a national paid leave standard of some kind.

In a nation that claims to value families, no worker should have to lose critical income or be pushed into poverty because illness strikes or a child or family member needs care.

Urge members of Congress to support the Healthy Families Act, legislation that would guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days. And sign this petition calling on Congress to take up the national paid leave program workers and families urgently need.


 From Tiffany Loftin, President, United States Student Association (USSA)“Increase regulation of private student loans and hold Sallie Mae accountable for its role in the student debt crisis.”

Throughout the Great Recession, only one type of household debt grew: student debt.

In April 2012, student debt surpassed the $1 trillion mark, and now students owe on average nearly $27,000 by the time they graduate. As student debt and student loan defaults escalate at an unsustainable pace, private student loan lenders continue to increase their profit margins.

Sallie Mae is the largest private student loan lender and one of the chief profiteers off of student debt, yet it faces minimal public scrutiny and accountability. With their sky-high interest rates, highly profitable government loan servicing contracts and predatory lending practices, they play a major role in keeping the American Dream out of reach for millions of borrowers.

Join USSA, the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP), Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work, Common Cause, the American Federation of Teachers and others at the Sallie Mae shareholder meeting on May 30 in Newark, DE.

We’ll introduce a shareholder resolution asking Sallie Mae to be more transparent and accountable about its lobbying efforts, affiliations and executive bonus structure — all part of a corporate strategy to increase their bottom line at the financial expense of borrowers. Sign up to attend the join the shareholder action here.


From Elizabeth Lower-Basch, Policy Coordinator, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP): “Support Pathways Back to Work”

Even as the economy recovers, too many unemployed workers and individuals with low education and skill levels face a difficult job market. Nearly two out of five unemployed workers have been jobless for six months or more. 6.7 million youth are both out of work and out of school.

Subsidized and transitional jobs are a proven way to give unemployed workers the opportunity to earn wages, build skills and connect to the labor market, while also giving businesses an incentive to hire new employees when they might not be able to do so otherwise.

President Obama’s FY14 budget blueprint calls for the creation of a $12.5 billion Pathways Back to Work Fund that includes: investments in subsidized employment opportunities, support services for the unemployed and low-income adults, summer and year-round employment opportunities for low-income youth and other work-based employment strategies with demonstrated effectiveness.

Please share this letter with nonprofits, businesses or other organizations and ask them to sign on to  join us in thanking President Obama for his support of subsidized and transitional jobs in the FY2014 budget, and asking the President and Congress to work together to ensure that the Pathways Back to Work Fund becomes law!  (This sign on letter is only for organizations, but individuals are also encouraged to ask their Members of Congress to support the Pathways Back to Work Fund — click the “reintroduce” buttons here and here.)


From Marci Phillips, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, National Council on Aging: “Invest in the Older Americans Act”

The Older Americans Act encompasses a range of programs that enable seniors to remain healthy and independent, in their own homes and communities, and out of costly institutions.  Services include healthy meals, in-home care, transportation, benefits access, caregiver support, chronic disease self-management, job training and placement and elder abuse prevention.

Funding has not kept pace with the growth in need or numbers, and recent cuts before the sequester hit have further eroded investments in key services. About 10,000 people turn 65 each day, and those over 85 are the fastest growing segment of the aging population.

One in three seniors is economically insecure. Social Security accounts for at least 90 percent of the income of more than one-third of older adults, and there has been a 79 percent increase in the threat of hunger among seniors over the past decade. The average duration of unemployment for people 55 and older is almost 50 weeks — longer than any other age group. Over 75 percent of all older adults have at least two chronic conditions, and the average Medicare household spends $4,500 on out-of-pocket health care costs.

There is a real need to increase funding for Older Americans Act programs like Meals on Wheels and in-home care. Please share your stories of cuts affecting seniors, so we can share them with Congress and the Administration and protect investments in the Older Americans Act.


From Rebecca Vallas, Staff Attorney/Policy Advocate, Community Legal Services

“Tell Congress NO CUTS to Social Security and SSI through the Chained CPI”

While the “chained CPI” is often referred to as just a technical change, in truth it’s a benefit cut for millions of seniors, people with disabilities and their families who rely on the Social Security system to meet their basic needs. Social Security retirement, disability and survivors benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) serve as a vital lifeline, making up a significant percentage of total family income for many workers and families.

The average yearly benefit for the lowest quintile of earners receiving retirement benefits in 2010 was $10,206 — and that represented 94 percent of their family income. Social Security Disability and SSI benefits are incredibly modest as well. The average SSDI benefit is about $1,100 per month in 2013, and the average SSI benefit is less than $550 per month. And for most disabled workers receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), their benefits make up most or all of their income. Even the maximum SSI benefit ($710 in 2013) is just three-fourths of the federal poverty level for a single person, and a quarter of SSDI beneficiaries live in poverty.

The amount a person gets in Social Security or SSI benefits is adjusted annually based on the Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA). The chained CPI would slow the increase in the Social Security COLA, cutting benefits and eroding the purchasing power of seniors, people with disabilities and their families. Cuts under the chained CPI add up significantly over time. Since the effect of the chained CPI is cumulative, it would be especially hard on people with disabilities, since they typically begin receiving benefits at a younger age than retirees.

The chained CPI is not a more accurate measure of inflation for seniors and people with disabilities. It is based on a concept called the “substitution effect” — which assumes that when the price of one good goes up, a consumer will substitute a lower-cost alternative in its place (e.g., when the price of steak goes up, a person will buy hamburger instead). For Social Security and SSI beneficiaries who are struggling to make ends meet as it is, there’s no room for substitution — and no room for benefit cuts. Benefit cuts under the chained CPI would push beneficiaries to make impossible choices such as not paying the gas bill to afford the water bill, taking half a pill instead of a whole pill, or eating two meals per day instead of three to afford the cost of a copay on a needed medication.

Low-income seniors and people with severe disabilities are already struggling and can’t afford cuts. Send this email to Congress to tell them NO on the chained CPI, and to keep Social Security cuts out of any budget plan. For AARP’s chained CPI calculator, click here.


From Jim Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center:

“Tell Congress: Increase, Don’t Cut SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits”

SNAP is a great program — boosting food security, health and nutrition and lifting millions out of poverty and millions of others out of deep poverty. But as a National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine expert committee just found, for most families benefits simply aren’t enough to afford a healthy diet for the month. This means that the program isn’t doing as much for food security, poverty reduction, child development, disease prevention and health care cost containment, as it could. And despite a series of Pinocchio-inspired political attacks on the program in the 2012 election season and in this year’s run-up to SNAP reauthorization as part of the Farm Bill, public support for the program is high: 73 percent of voters believe the program is important to the country; 70 percent say cutting it is the wrong way to reduce government spending; and 77 percent say the government should be spending more (43 percent) or the same (34 percent) on SNAP. This support crosses parties, demographic groups and rural, urban and suburban lines.

Here’s what you can do: Tell your representative and senators that the right course for the nation is to improve food stamp benefits (and support at least the temporary benefit boost the President has proposed) and that they must oppose any SNAP cuts being considered by the Agriculture Committees in the “Farm Bill.”


From Debbie Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs:

Tell Congress to stop harmful cuts to anti-poverty programs now”

Across the country, federal “sequestration” cuts (aka mindless automatic reductions) are closing Head Start programs weeks early and canceling summer programs for poor 3 to 5 year old children; some Head Start centers are closing altogether or dropping children. Seniors are losing home-delivered meals or homemaker services that allow them to remain at home instead of being pushed into nursing homes. The long-term jobless are losing 10 to 20 percent of their meager benefits; in Maine, they decided to cut all unemployed people off of assistance 9 weeks early. 140,000 fewer families will get rental housing vouchers, despite waiting for help for years, which will contribute to rising family homelessness. Education is being cut, from pre-school to the Federal Work-Study Program (formerly “College Work-Study”) that helps students finance college through part-time employment. In Michigan, they are eliminating a $137 back-to-school clothing allowance for 21,000 poor children.

These cuts are wrong and foolish any way you slice it — they keep people poor, cost jobs and stall economic growth for everyone.

Send this email to your representative and senators and join hundreds of thousands who are fed up that Congress would ignore these problems while fixing just one thing — inconvenient delays at airports. Also, for weekly summaries of the impact of these sequester cuts, click here.

Standing for Communities: ‘The Power of Collective’ (from the Marguerite Casey Foundation via Equal Voice News)

Greg Kaufmann is a Nation contributor covering poverty in America. His work has also appeared on Common DreamsAlternet, Tikkun.org, NPR.org, CBSNews.com and MichaelMoore.com. He serves as an adviser for the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
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  • http://www.charliecrystle.com Charlie Crystle

    This is a great list, but it doesn’t mention anything about business. Supports are great, but fundamentally we need living-wage jobs, forgiving hiring policies, support for entrepreneurs at all levels, and a commitment by the business community to end poverty through employment.

    That’s what some folks are attempting through efforts like http://www.bealocalist.org

  • ChaCha

    Another omission is the “quiet” age discrimination encountered by unemployed workers over the age of 40, who are attempting to get back into the job market. Many job postings are skewed to shut them out through certain requirements, e.g., needing a Bachelors Degree for a Receptionist’s or Secretarial position, even though the candidate may have done a similar job for years without a degree. Also it has been acknowledged by some former senior executives that their companies will rarely interview any older job seekers, due to worries about discrimination lawsuits if these older candidates had been interviewed but not hired. These are issues that need to be addressed by the government, but right now seem to be ignored.

  • Ole

    I didn’t see, “Get off meth, stop having kids with multiple partners and take responsibility for your actions.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/robertstephenmoore Robert Stephen Moore

    Mr. Moyers, I just want generally to thank you for one of the very best televised shows in the United States. Rarely–and I mean RARELY–am I not transfixed by the topics and guests you inhabit the hours of programming with. I am a member of Occupy Chicago and was particularly interested in the time you spent with Marshall Ganz. Be on notice, though: the Occupy movement is not dead. It has not been well of late, but it is far from finished. We in Chicago are on the verge of announcing a bold new initiative for the next American Revolution because it is going to take revolution to keep the United States from an untimely end. There is no real democracy in the United States of America. There is a democratically elected representative republic that serves the purpose of the oligarchical regime that has been in place for far too long and has become far too bold in its perpetrating the rapidly burgeoning economic inequality–hell, in its outright class warfare–and must be brought to an end. A genuine democracy is the experiment that needs to replace the failed attempt of the status quo. We must have rule by the 100%–NOT by the 1%–and we must have it now. If not now, when? If not us, whom? This failing representative republic must be relegated to the same dustbin of history as The Confederacy was. The Confederacy was a mistake, and so is this current form of government–especially when coupled with crony capitalism. Yes, it is time for a new, non-violent American Revolution. You’re either with us, or against us. There is no middle ground on something this important and necessary.

  • Fred Stark

    You fail to have a spokesman for disability rights talk about poverty. People with disabilities have the highest unemployment of any minority group in this country. You should talk to Bob Kafka, one of the leaders of ADAPT, to speak about poverty on your PBS program !

  • Greg

    Rebecca Vallas is a member of the Consortium for People with Disabilities and speaks about the connections between disabilities and poverty a lot. She chose to talk about the Chained CPI because it will have such a negative impact on people receiving disability. ADAPT is an important group though, you’re right!

  • David Woo

    We need more cooperative enterprise to be built and sustained. Community wealth that is created in that community by the sweat and labor of its members shouldn’t have any of it siphoned off to the elites. If we own the grocery store, it’s profits stay in the community. Legislation and charity can only do so much, we need “economic democracy” in this society as a hedge against the rising feudalism in our current situation. We will not “take” wealth from the wealthy. We will just figure out a way to keep more of our own. A start will be investigating your local food Co-op, educating yourself and figuring out how to get more cooperative enterprise going in our country.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.schoenclark Mary Schoen-Clark

    This is a great story… so many time your left with the question “so what can I do about this problem. Right?

  • http://forumsforjustice.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3997&postcount=13 Forums4Justice

    granting 12 million poverty-level illegal immigrants citizenship will only increase poverty in America

  • http://forumsforjustice.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3997&postcount=13 Forums4Justice

    1 out of 3 Americans living below twice the poverty line — on less than $36,000 for a family of three

    half of American workers have AGIs of less than $36,000

  • Donna

    Most of the comments below are complaining about someone/some group not being represented…. come on people – these are just suggestions. Do one of the above, or do something for your special group – BUT DO SOMETHING – besides complain!

  • Tina

    What does Sister Simone think will happen if minimum wage is raised to over $11/hour? What has happened every time the minimum wage is raised? Simple economics will tell you that the price of every thing will also rise.

  • Anonymous

    To sum up:
    11 things that require voting to take money from other people, by force, under threats of punishment, to do what *you* want.
    1 thing that actually asks for personal responsibility.

    Color me not surprised.

  • PeteB

    omits what I see as one of the major causes of the disparity of wealth
    in America – Our tax code and the elimination of the Maximum Wage.
    During the Eisenhower years, income exceeding $400,000 was taxed at 92%.
    After earning the first $400,000, each additional $100,000 yielded only $8,000, effectively creating a Maximum Wage.
    An extra $1,000,000 earned in excess of $400,000 only yielded an extra $80,000.

  • PeteB

    In 1968, the minimum wage was $1.60.
    If minimum wage had kept pace with Income Growth in America, the minimum wage today would be $21.16 instead of $7.25.
    Why do Republicans favor concentrating America’s wealth into the hands of a few wealthy people and embrace the destruction of America’s Middle Class.
    400 Americans now have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 150,000,000 Americans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TallPhilosopher John Champagne

    What if we could get these numbskulls to transform their money-raising strategies? Move away from taxing *income* (a good thing). … (Move away also from the burden of bureaucracy born of the need to decide each case where claims for exemptions from the tax based on good works must be evaluated.) Move toward charging fees (or selling limited number of permits at auction) to those who cause environmental ‘damage’ (meaning some emission of pollution or taking of a limited resource).

    Then we have a happy coincidence between citizens’ self-interest in saying, ‘make the polluters pay more (as a stipend to me) when they mess up the environment on the one hand, and the interest of the larger community and future generations in having a healthy and just human society (less demands on natural resources, as businesses try to reduce operating expenses by reducing environmental impacts.

    Sorry, forgot the caveat: Higher payments in the form of pollution fees would mean higher payments to the people if and when we recognize that the natural wealth belongs to all and should be shared equally or equitably. (Perhaps we could decide that most conventional taxes (income taxes, for example) would be as low or non-existent as the people want them to be. We could use an agreed-upon fraction of the environmental impact fees to spend toward support of public programs. We could let each person say what they think their share of the public funds budget should go to; this or that program, this or that public service. This paradigm would ensure that no one would be forced to support a program that they did not like. If we adopt a high standard of definition for what is to be called a ‘public service’ (that is, when asked in a public survey what exactly qualifies as a ‘public service’ we might say that two-thirds of the people need to agree that it serves the public interest, rather than one-half), we will have a high level of assurance that what is being done with the public funds is doing some good for society.

    Is Civilization a Success or Failure, or is it Too Soon to Tell?:

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Herman/100001010274735 James Herman

    The single most important thing that could be done to end homelessness is to end exclusionary zoning. The fact that we hear the phrase “protect property values” so often just confirms that the housing market is both dysfunctional and irrational. While cars depreciate in value, a properly priced home that is kept up should only increase in value at most at the rate of inflation. All the people struggling against eviction would be better served by just walking away. You need to think about saving for retirement rather than flushing any more money down the 30-yr mortgage toilet. You should have the right to live in an affordable home. Housing is a human right. The trouble is affordable homes have been unjustly zoned out. That is an unconscionable violation against your constitutional inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is where the fight lies. This is what needs to be corrected and sooner rather than later.

    End exclusionary zoning and there never will be another mortgage crisis again. End exclusionary zoning and you’ll be able to buy a house as easily and cheaply as you buy a car. It’s really that simple. The housing market is not free so homes are not accurately priced. I went from paying $3,720/yr in lot rent to a mobile home park to paying $662/yr in property taxes once I was allowed to place my singlewide on a lot and pay property taxes like everyone else. I lived at Little Valley Estates near 8 Mile & Middlebelt (near Detroit). I was paying $310/mo in lot rent for a 26 ft by 60 ft lot. That extrapolates to $8,656/acre/month. After I lost my job at 59 in Oct 2008 I just retired (didn’t even apply for unemployment). I was able to retire because I paid off my singlewide in less than 2 yrs. So I didn’t flush a lot of money down the 30-yr mortgage toilet. If I had borrowed say $100K at 5% and paid it back over 30 yrs then I would have had to pay back $193K. My lifetime income was only $699K.

    I lived in apartments for 20 yrs before buying my singlewide in Aug of 1991. By the time I moved my singlewide in May 2009 I had paid over $55K in lot rent over 18 yrs. I estimate that I could’ve saved about $45K if I just would’ve been allowed to place my singlewide on a lot and pay property taxes just like everyone else. But Farmington Hills, MI says your home has to be at least 24 ft wide and conform to existing housing. My singlewide was only 14 ft wide. I would’ve had to move 167 miles further north if I wanted to stay in Mi. Instead I moved my singlewide 300 miles south to a warmer climate about 55 miles east of Cincinnati.

    We have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In order to have life you need the necessities of life such as shelter. You should be free to choose that shelter. So the president is derelict in his duty to protect and defend the constitution. But he’s just another Pontius Pilate politician. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent but when the crowd yelled ‘Crucify Him’ then that’s what the crowd got. Everyone knows exclusionary zoning is wrong. I’d like the crowd, including Occupy etc, to stop supporting exclusionary zoning. Aren’t you tired of being sheared of your wealth like sheep? At least I was able to move my home. I didn’t have to leave it behind for someone to tear it down.

    240,000 people left Detroit between 2000 and 2010. They left but the houses didn’t. It would be a lot easier to vote with your feet if your house could be moved too. Building a singlewide is much less complicated than building a car. So Detroit or Flint could easily build a quality formaldehyde-free singlewide. A 30 footer would be about 360 sq ft. Need more room? Just buy two and connect them with a hallway. When baby comes along then add a third. When baby goes to college then his/her unit could go too as housing for life. Motor homes are very easy to move. So are travel trailers and all the other things you can see at an RV and camper show. Here’s a link to my face book page where you can view pictures of my singlewide. As you will see, it’s a neat little home. Just copy and paste it into your browser. All my photos are public. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.149213788455629.25303.100001010274735&type=3&l=e9e55b12ea

  • ccaffrey

    Check out the work of Gar Alperovitz and the Democracy Collaborative. Deep, extensive material on creating worker-owned and cooperative businesses, anchored to local institutions so that work won’t dry up as soon as the publicly-subsidized big businesses decided they can get more lucrative “incentives” to locate elsewhere. Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives is a really fantastic example of that. There’s a new documentary out on the kinds of models developing called Shift Change. I am actually encouraged at what we the people can do to rebuild our own economy.

  • MBB

    Add: Start organizing because telling Congress is a lonely thing to do, and we need #s to win.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.schoenclark Mary Schoen-Clark

    Many people I know have really appreciated this artical and now love Bills new program. http://www.mschoenclark.com

  • Rollie Lobsinger

    These are all needed and necessary, but most importantly we need to
    defeat Citizens United and reform our electoral process so that all
    elections are public ally financed. This will restore the vale of the
    individual citizens vote and give our politicians the political cover
    that they need to vote against the interest’s of large corporations when
    they are not in the best interest of the country.

  • jan, now-of the Rockies

    From End All Poverty a new non-profit having difficulty in launching itself,says “it is our mindset which 4 out of 5 Americans in real poverty.” We accept without one iota of proof, that big business’s with over 1,000 employees would go bankrupt by paying their workers an honest amount. We cannot think of changing to an economy of altruism, we must make our economy the same as back in 1 AD. Only with a lot more inflation.

    When we advance our economy to a mind set that by helping our neighbor overcome the reason for human lack, we will be better off – all of us will win. We will have equality in income. A real livable wages are when we have income to pay all are required human bills.

    I and free thinking experts say that even $11.00 an hour, still is not a livable wage! At this rate of inflation the livable rate is closer to $22.50 and up. Turn the prices back to 1963 prices then $11 will be a livable wage.

    I like the fact many ideas are covered. But lets cover them from the perspective of those who cannot pay their basic bills, like rent, utilities, communication, gifts to your loved ones, plus required repairs, and the price of going to work.

    The yelps of the weak, are rarely heeded. We will end poverty When we hear the voices of the poor. The media needs to carry these. Not just our CEO making good money on the back of the poor.

  • Joy


  • Daniel Bassill

    I’ve piloted the use of geographic maps to show where poverty is
    concentrated in Chicago and to show existing non-school tutor/mentor
    programs working in different community areas. With tools like these
    anyone in a zip code could be working with others to raise the resources
    and talent needed by schools and non-school organizations to help youth
    and families. Here’s one example of how maps can be used.

    In addition, I’ve written a blog since 2005 and
    have posted several articles following violence in Chicago, under the
    title ENOUGH Is ENOUGH, offering steps people can take to fight poverty
    and overcome violence.

  • greg

    discussion of poverty that does not mention the trillion dollar defense
    budget is pointless. In 1992, the first election after the end of the
    cold war, the number one issue was the so-called “peace dividend”.
    Cutting defense massively was supported
    by some 80% of the population and Clinton campaigned on that sentiment,
    making many promises. But he got in to office and was told that was
    not going to happen. He may have reduced it a few percent, less than
    ten, and then in his first state of the union address said emphatically
    “I will NOT CUT DEFENSE FURTHER” and received a ten minute standing
    ovation from Congress. By the time he left office defense was higher
    than when he entered. One trillion dollars a year is like $3000 per
    person in this country. More than enough to eliminate poverty. The
    fact that nobody talks about this is incredibly Orwellian. Welcome to

  • Wayne

    By far, number 8 “Support Pathways Back to Work” is the most important.

    As a truly bipartisan effort, we need JOBS, JOBS and more JOBS! Instead of the left and right trying to kill each other off, how about some freaking new jobs! How about some affordable energy to assist with new job creation!
    The path we are on now will turn our country over to the Chinese.
    Most of the actions and things the left and right want is more easily attained with a prosperous economy for all.

  • Jane Hardberry

    No – that’s so obviously not true. When more people can buy things – there is more competition – when there’s more competition, prices go down. Simple basic economics

  • Jane Hardberry

    Noone would be forced to support something they don’t like means people who think being “non-compromising” is good. That is only the case in the most war-torn places and the United States.

  • Jane Hardberry

    I see this as punishing people for challenging the Rule Of the People, By the People and For the People by idealizing Rule Over the People by the Rich.
    That’s a good thing

  • Jane Hardberry

    The poor need populists to tell them they are not as weak as they think they are. It’s the mentality that fights against the poor. Imagine if we were all as arrogant as the rich! We could get so much more done.

  • Jane Hardberry

    Starting a tirade with “everyone else is pointless” is the problem.

    Organizing people means not alienating people who don’t match your own ideas thought for thought. Compromise with the RIGHT people for the right reasons is good.

  • Jane Hardberry

    We need more regulation on the rich and LESS REGULATION on poor people trying to make a simple living. Then you don’t have to ask, demand jobs – but have more leeway to make your own jobs.