In communities across the country, Vincentians continue to respond to the extraordinary need caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. When I read the news articles and hear the stories of Conferences and Councils going above and beyond to serve our friends in need, I am honored to be a part of our Society.
The pandemic shows no sign of relenting, yet this week marks the end of critical protections and assistance that vulnerable Americans have used to stave off hunger, poverty, and homelessness. Our country is in pain and reeling, and we desperately need Congressional leadership.
In May the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, which would provide help to people, families, and communities suffering from the pandemic. As the Senate crafts its own response and begins negotiations with the House and the Administration, we must demand that poor and vulnerable people, and the organizations that serve them, continue to receive adequate assistance. Our faith teaches us that the needs of the most vulnerable have a priority claim on our common resources. Any legislation sent to the President must provide:
- Housing and Homelessness Response: Housing insecurity is a national scandal. As unemployment skyrockets and renter protections are lifted, millions more are at risk of losing their housing;
- Food Assistance: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) only covers three weeks of a family’s food budget. A temporary increase would ensure that beneficiaries have adequate access to food;
- Broadband Internet: Reliable internet access is critical to finding a job, applying for benefits and, now, educating our children. Rural and low-income communities deserve equal access to this vital link to the economy;
- Health Care: Because health care for many workers is tied to employment, many jobless now find themselves uninsured as well. Expanding Medicaid access and funding is critical; and
- Protections from Predatory Lending: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently dismantled payday lending regulations. Working families must be protected from financial predators.
- Ensuring nonprofit access to loan programs and other financial resources made available to small businesses; and
- Expanding charitable giving incentives so more people can benefit from their contributions to organizations providing critical assistance.
Through our increased commitment to friends in need, our spirituality has been deepened. Our work can be enhanced and supported by policy, so I urge you to write to your Senators today.