As Poverty Rises in U.S., Presidential Candidates Remain SilentJuly 26th, 2012
“Why is this presidential campaign so centered on the middle class? What about the poor people? Their numbers are growing, but their fate hasn’t made it into the debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.”
These are the opening words of a sobering new article that analyzes the increase in poverty in the United States, particularly in the suburbs, which were once largely considered enclaves of the American dream. This focused analysis dovetails with the many news reports in recent days that the soon-to-be released 2011 census data will show that poverty in the United States is at its highest level in fifty years.
As our Executive Director Sister Mary Scullion said recently at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act, “Obviously, we are in an election year, which is a chance for the American people not simply to decide among candidates, but more fundamentally to debate the very nature and purpose of government.” We believe it is critical that the candidates – at all levels of government and in all races – address the issues of poverty and homelessness. Those Americans who struggle with poverty and homelessness can hardly be dismissed as a small special-interest group – it is almost 16 percent of the entire U.S. population, and over 1 in 5 American children. In our City of Philadelphia, the poverty rate is above 25 percent.
Why do the candidates ignore poverty? Is it because most elected officials at the national level are themselves wealthy, thereby insulated from the lives of their fellow citizens and constituents who are economically struggling? Or is it because they assume that poor and homeless people have no real political power or clout, so the candidates can afford to ignore them and their issues?
During this election season, Project H.O.M.E. will be working with the nonpartisan Vote For Homes! Coalition to raise the issues of poverty – including affordable housing, living-wage jobs, and human services. We will also be working to register and empower thousands of poor and homeless Philadelphians to raise their voices at the polls in November. You can help in this effort – contact our coordinator of advocacy efforts, Jennine Miller at 215-232-7272, ext. 3042, or firstname.lastname@example.org.