From Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
What makes this policy report a little different from most is that it features the voices of people who are among the hardest hit by the health and economic crises.
As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signals that no coronavirus relief package will be considered before the election, Southerners are speaking out. Spearheaded by Stacey Abrams, the SouthStrong coalition—175 Southern organizations, scholars, and community groups working for an equitable pandemic response—has released a new report, “2,300 SOUTHERN VOICES Call for Help.” It lays bare the urgent need for additional pandemic aid.
What makes this policy report a little different from most is that it features the voices of people who are among the hardest hit by the health and economic crises. We know from data who is being hit the hardest, but we rarely hear from them directly about the policy solutions they want from their elected representatives.
SouthStrong, along with Propel (maker of the Fresh EBT app that helps users manage their public assistance benefits), heard from 2,300 SNAP-recipients in 12 southern states about their experiences during the pandemic, public policies that have helped them, and what they want to tell policymakers at this moment.
The people surveyed differ in terms of the particular circumstances that led to their struggles—from job losses or cuts in work hours, to child care needs, illness, disability, and more. However, they overwhelmingly tell policymakers that what they need right now is help with rent, utilities, and food. To be sure, there are other pressing needs such as child care assistance, transportation, and help with medical bills, but none are cited with the consistency of these three basic needs. This is not a surprise considering deepening hunger, housing insecurity, and rising utility costs as people spend more time at home.
Here are just a few of the responses found in the surveys: