U.S. Poverty Weekly Update August 27, 2019


August 27, 2019

Quote of the Week

“The legacy of segregation and systemic racism continues today and is linked to the affordable housing crisis.”

– RESULTS Kansas State volunteer and REAL Change Fellow Pranav Savanur in an August 23 letter to the editor in the Manhattan Mercury

Got Two Minutes? Go Find Town Halls and Parades to Close the Recess (August Action)

RESULTS’ greatest asset is our volunteers. You, the people around the country, working each month to make the end of poverty a reality. And one of your greatest skills is your ability meet with and influence members of Congress. Your skills and talents in this area have resulted in numerous victories over the years in the fight against poverty. The information you glean from these meetings is vital to our work in helping us strategize our campaigns, move key members of Congress up the Champion Scale, and work effectively with coalition allies.

With only two weeks left in the August recess, have you checked in lately about meetings and town halls? Members of Congress may take a break next week before heading back to DC so this week might be your best bet to schedule a last-minute meeting. In addition, they may try to squeeze in a few in-person or tele-town halls. Also, many communities do local Labor Day parades and going into an election year, politicians like to attend. It’s a great way to get a few minutes to ask a question about housing and tax policy (scanning the staging area before the parade starts is your best opportunity). Make sure your members of Congress hear from you before they go back to Washington.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to contact your House and Senate schedulers about scheduling a last-minute meeting with your members of Congress before September 6. Use the August Action for help. If you cannot get a meeting this month, ask about town halls, parades, or other public events they may be doing (and check www.townhallproject.com). If you completely strike out, ask for a meeting the next time they are home and set up a meeting with the local staff. When you get a meeting or event scheduled, please contact Meredith Dodson to help you get ready. For additional materials, check out our Lobbying page.

Got Ten Minutes? Celebrate Workers by Submitting Letters to the Editor about the EITC and CTC

This fall, we’ll prioritize efforts on generating media around tax credits for working families. With a real possibility of getting some expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit for tens of millions of low-income workers and children this year, we want to push lawmakers to include these expansions in any tax bill that comes up – and your media will help do that.

Across the country, we’ll be celebrating workers over Labor Day – and we can use that as a hook to start the media push. Today the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities put out new data on which types of workers will benefit from an expansion of the EITC and CTC – you can include this data in your media and use coverage of the holiday or students going back to school as a hook. To get started, adapt our new online template to get a letter published now about expanding the EITC and CTC.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to get started on our fall media blitz by submitting a letter to the editor on the EITC and CTC using our new online template.

Save a copy of your letter and, if you don’t get published, use the 2018 Census poverty data release coming on September 10 as another hook. We’ll discuss the Census data in more detail on our September National Webinar on September 11 at 8:00 pm ET (a week later than normal). In addition, if you are looking for a deeper dive into how to generate media, join our Use Local Media to Move Legislators into Action training webinar on September 12 at 8:30 pm ET. And a reminder we can use this media push to inspire more people into action. Getting a letter in print and/or motivating others to do the same can be a transformation experience for you and people you know. Use this action to create new advocate. Read more in the September Action and plan to join our webinar “Wow, I got published! Making Media a Transformational Experience” on Thursday, September 29 at 8:30 pm ET. The first iteration of this training was a big hit (find the materials and recording here), so please plan to join this repeat training.

Got Another Ten Minutes? Follow Up with Congressional Aides

Last month, many of you participated in over 250 lobby meetings at the RESULTS International Conference (IC) about housing, taxes, global health, and nutrition. Most of you have already let us know how those meetings went by filling out the RESULTS Lobby Report Form. As noted above, those meetings in Washington DC and the conversations you have with members of Congress back home this month make a huge impact – but follow up is key.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to contact the housing and tax aides for your members of Congress to check on the status of recent requests or to check in if you have not spoken to them lately. The laser talks in our August Action are a good place to start when discussing our issues, as are our current lobby requests found on our Lobbying page (found under “I need lobbying materials”). In case you missed it, here is some template language you can adapt for your follow up:

HOUSING: As we discussed, we have an affordable housing crisis. I shared state data on the housing crisis in our leave behind materials, but here is more information about the housing crisis in the state/District [consider inserting your state/district data directly via https://nlihc.org/congressional-district-housing-profiles]. Nationally, renters’ median earnings have gone up 5 percent since 1960 while cost of rent went up 61 percent. Access to safe, stable housing is critical, and impacts many parts of our lives including education, health, and nutrition. When households are forced to pay high housing costs, their spending on other necessities, like food, transportation, and health care are cut.

I’m excited to continue discussing the idea of a refundable renters credit with you and your office. As a reminder, a renters tax credit could help address the affordable housing crisis by capping the out-of-pocket rent and utilities expenses a low-income household would pay at around 30 percent of their income. The credit would cover any excess above that up to 100 percent of the community’s “Fair Market Rent.” Two key components of a renters credit that would be critical to supporting families back home:

  • The credit must be refundable, to ensure that the lowest-income families get the assistance they need.
  • The credit should be disbursed monthly – since families struggle each month to make ends meet.

Have you had a chance to review some of the bipartisan proposals to create a renters’ credit such as H.R. 2169 and S. 1106 (as well as S. 3590, H.R. 7050 and S. 3342 in the last Congress)? We are excited to work with your office on this idea — researchers at Columbia University estimate that a renters’ credit could lift over 9 million Americans above the poverty line! Our request is that your boss endorse the concept of a renters’ credit and voice support for it with House/Senate leaders including House (Ways and Means Committee Leaders Richard Neal and Ranking Member Kevin Brady) or Senate (Finance Committee Leaders Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Ron Wyden) tax committee leadership. Can you update me on this request?

When speaking with the housing aide, you can let them know about the September 18 housing event and ask them to register and attend.

EITC and CTC: We at RESULTS have long supported anti-poverty tax policies — the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) lift more families and children out of poverty than any other program. Unfortunately, the current federal tax code taxes more than 5 million low-wage workers not raising children at home into (or deeper into) poverty, and one in three children in low-income families do not receive the full Child Tax Credit. Based on conversations that RESULTS volunteers had with some key tax committee leaders in July, I want to reiterate the importance of expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit for low-income families. The Working Families Tax Relief Act (S. 1138/H.R.3157) is an exciting proposal to expand both the EITC and CTC, which would help 114 million people and reduce child poverty by 28 percent – I included data on how many people would benefit in our state from this proposal in our materials [consider inserting your state data directly]. 

Senate Call to Action: Congress is considering legislation to extend a collection of largely business tax breaks. House leaders want expansions of the EITC and CTC in any business “tax extenders” bill. Will you tell Senate leaders to adhere to the 2015 precedent that no business tax breaks should be extended or expanded without also helping low-income workers and families through expansions of the EITC and CTC?

House Call to Action: Will you cosponsor the robust EITC and CTC expansions in H.R.3157 if you have not already done so? There is more information in Rep. Kildee’s Dear Colleague letter, including the contact in Rep. Kildee’s office, which I am happy to send along.

Need more support for follow up? Contact Meredith Dodson. And please complete lobby reports for your meetings at the International Conference and please fill it out for meetings you have at home too. Go to www.tinyurl.com/RMoCReport and fill out the form. Note that you only need to fill out a lobby report for each physical meeting you had.

Quick News

Submit Comment to Protect SNAP. The Trump Administration has proposed a new rule to eliminate “broad-based categorical eligibility” with SNAP, which would result in 3 million low-income people losing SNAP benefits. Earlier this summer, Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led a group if 19 Senators and 120 U.S. Representatives in sending a letter urging U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to rescind his department’s “disastrous rule” to restrict Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for an estimated 3.1 million Americans. Please submit your comment opposing the rule today and check out the joint SNAP comment campaign resources page for additional tools. The deadline to comment is September 23.

Changes to “Public Charge” Challenged in Court. Earlier this month, the Trump Administration announced its final “public charge” rule which would hold the use of public benefits against immigrants applying for permanent residency in the U.S – starting in 60 days. RESULTS and many others weighed in against this proposal last fall, and 13 states and several organizations have already filed a lawsuit challenging the rule. Want to understand the proposal better?  Register for Public Charge 101 webinar on Thursday, September 5th, at 1:00pm ET.

Upcoming Events

August Congressional Recess. The House and Senate are both on recess until September 6. Submit your meeting requests today.

Tuesday, September 10: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Webinar, 8:00 pm ET (a week later than normal). Overview of 2018 U.S. Census poverty data. Join at: https://results.zoom.us/j/873308801 or dial (929) 436-2866 or (669) 900-6833, Meeting ID: 873 308 801. Find recordings and slides from previous webinars on the National Webinars page.

Thursday, September 12: Use Local Media to Move Legislators into Action training webinar, 8:30pm ET. Join at https://results.zoom.us/j/422081397 or dial either (929) 436-2866 or (669) 900-6833, meeting ID: 422 081 397#.

Tuesday, September 17, U.S. Poverty Free Agents Calls, 1:00 pm and 8:00 pm ET. Join at: https://results.zoom.us/j/324294681 or dial by phone at (929) 436-2866 or (669) 900-6833, Meeting ID: 324 294 681.

Thursday, September 19, Webinar: Wow, I got published! Making Media a Transformational Experience, 8:30 pm ET. Join here: https://results.zoom.us/j/586201507, or dial either (929) 436-2866 or (669) 900-6833, meeting ID: 586 201 507#.

Find other events on the RESULTS Events Calendar.

U.S. Poverty Staff time out of the office: Jos Linn, August 24-September 2.

Other Resources

Learn more about the RESULTS Experts on Poverty.

Do you have a new person in your RESULTS group or info to update? Use our Volunteer Information Form to add them.

Report your Grassroots Successes:

If you have a question, comment, or suggestion for the RESULTS/REF Board, please e-mail Steven McGee at [email protected]. View Board minutes and Annual Reports.

RESULTS Staff directory.

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