I will work hard to ensure that social services remain for those truly in need and help create sustainable individuals and communities.
When my grandmother relocated from Laurel, Mississippi to Chicago, Illinois during the Great Migration of African-Americans in the mid 1900s, she didn’t know it would be the beginning of her poverty. She was bright-eyed and bushy tailed along with more than 6 million other African-Americans who thought coming to the Midwest would give them relief from racism and provide job opportunities. Instead, she was met with greater hostilities in a much harsher environment. Little did she know, it would take another three decades before her children would finally grow up, get good jobs and move her to a better life away from the ghettos of Chicago into the Illinois suburbs.
I highlight my grandmother’s experience because it’s proof to me that more than likely, when poverty hits, it does so unanticipated and unexpected. In 2018, MarketWatch reported that just 39% of Americans have enough savings to cover an unexpected bill, emergency room visit or car repair. As pay raises continue to stagnate and legislators neglect to prioritize minimum wage increases and the need for livable wages (See Jobs & Minimum Wage Section), millions of Americans remain 1-2 paychecks away from living on the street. Forty million Americans remain in poverty while millions remain homeless, as reported by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. About 8 million Americans live with others because of high housing costs. In Los Angeles, California, the homeless capital of the world, there are entire parking lots dedicated to people living in their cars. While the current administration (2020) touts the rate of homelessness and poverty is decreasing, more than 3.5 million Americans remain living on the streets or in a shelter, with 40,000 of them being veterans. This is unacceptable.
When I was still in law school, I founded a charitable for-profit organization known as Midwest Center for Social Services, LLC. Its purpose is to provide legal assistance and mental health services at a reduced or discounted rate to low-income individuals, families, and small businesses. We have helped hundreds of low-income individuals across this country, from coast to coast find the help they need by simply reducing costs or making it free. As small as my business remains in comparison to the U.S. government and its resources, my question as a U.S. Senator would be this: How can we (the government) help reduce our poverty rate and homelessness so that people have a place to live and can afford the goods and services they so desperately need?
Therefore, these are the things I promise to work on upon my election with regard to poverty and homelessness in America:
Invest and build more homeless shelters which provide wrap-around services. Federal spending on homelessness currently gets disbursed through four main organizations: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services. We need to boost the federal spending to these departments to create more homeless shelters that provide wrap-around services to individuals and families so they can become sustainable and contribute back to society. Additionally, I will properly review HUD and the Housing Voucher Program and its practices to ensure landlords are held accountable for providing adequate habitable space to all tenants.
Child poverty. In 2018, it was reported that over 300,000 children in Indiana were living in poverty. Compare that with the 11.9 million in poverty in the entire U.S. reported in 2020. Upon my election to the U.S. Senate, I intend to demand annual reports on child poverty from an already existing group and/or entity focused on this type of thing. From there, we develop a plan to combat child poverty via expanding existing programs that encourage work and provide direct assistance. In the meantime, we increase the earned income tax credit, and child and dependent care tax credits for working families, expand housing vouchers and SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program).
Rental rate regulation. No landlord should be able to increase rent without proper reason and justification, and even in doing so, it should be done carefully and according to a set standard for fairness. Right now, as it stands, without a local ordinance, there is no real limit or uniformity to the amount landlords can legally raise rent prices across the country. Without a law in place, landlords can double, triple, and even quadruple their rental rates. As a future member of the senate, I promise to deeply address this issue and the national impact for the purposes of introducing legislation which protects tenants.
As nearly ⅓ of Americans continue to be without health insurance with no plan in sight, we must work with the Healthcare Industry providers and insurers to reduce costs and make things affordable for now. As a legislator, I will work hard with the leaders in the industry and partner with community nonprofits to ensure homeless and low-income individuals receive the medical care they need.
As a future senator, rest assured I will support the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture for the purposes of ensuring that those who truly need food stamps can get them. In the 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson began the war on poverty to measure and eradicate it. During his inaugural address, Johnson called for “the richest nation on earth” to win the war on poverty by assisting American families with incomes too small to meet their basic needs. This War on Poverty created robust welfare programs which I believe should be maintained and supported.
Investment in Small Towns, Rural Areas & Communities (cities with less than 200,000 people). As a legislator, I will introduce and co-sponsor legislation that promises to provide small cities, towns, and townships with new grant opportunities that allow them to invest in their communities and stimulate their economies. Direct support from the federal government will go to rural communities in the form of additional block grant money and allow for the development of healthcare facilities, public transportation, childcare, etc.
Past Eviction & Criminal History. As a future legislator, I promise to make it a top priority to address landlords’ ability to use one’s past eviction history and/or criminal history against them as the only reasons to deny one’s application to tenancy. Every American must have access to a home.