By: Randy Deabay
Meals-On-Wheels could be funded for one complete year if Melania and Barron Trump could spend just one full month in the Whitehouse with Donald. What a difference this would make for those less fortunate among us. H.U.D, the agency that disperses the funds has figures showing all senior services receive about $33 million.
Many Meals on Wheels programs in the East are struggling with lack of volunteers and state funding. The programs are still waiting to hear how much money they will have since the state budget hasn’t been passed. In Pitt County, the Council on Aging estimates they have lost around $75,000 over the years in state funding. Each year, they serve 46,750 meals in Pitt County, which costs them around $374,000. Currently, more than 250 eligible elderly people are on a waiting list to join the program in the county. We have those elderly who fought the wars, worked in the factories to assist our Boys abroad, and they are the hardworking farmers who grew the crops that fed the impoverished in the 1970s and 1980s. We now ignore them and allow them to go hungry for our Starbucks Latte, or Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut. It is as simple as every working American taking the cost of their coffee, or energy drink from the mornings and donate to assist the homeless and hungry, our country would be a far richer nation in the wealth of neighborliness, caring, and giving.
A true Conservative has a giving heart and believes in individual donating to the needy, while the Progressives believes we need to feed and clothe our least among us. Shall we not come together and tell our current POTUS, Donald J. Trump that his budget that curbs the money for our poor and needy is not acceptable, and that the funds to keep his family in New York need to be completely cut-off. That money needs to go back to the states so that local communities can make a true difference in these young poor families lives, our vet’s lives’, and the elderly who go without food or medicine.
The truth: Trump’s budget calls for the elimination of one program that some of the nation’s 5,000 Meals on Wheels groups rely on Community development block grants, a $3 billion program that started in the Ford administration to give states and cities more flexibility in how they combat poverty. But Trump’s proposal — known as the “skinny budget” because it’s the first, vague outline of a more formal submission to come — is largely silent about the program that provides the vast majority of federal funding for senior services. The majority of Meals on Wheels programs get most of their federal funding through the Administration for Community Living, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services that serves the elderly and disabled. That agency has a $227 million line-item for “home-delivered nutrition services.” Those programs are authorized through the Older Americans Act, a law so popular that its renewal passed Congress last year without any recorded opposition. And while Trump didn’t single out that specific program, Health, and Human Services will receive a 16% across-the-board cut.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness states that there are 564,708 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the US. 36,907 (6.38%) are children, 47,725 (8.33%) are veterans, and 269,991 (47.6%) are disabled and unable to work. While American cities have an ongoing glut of building new and more elegant apartment complexes for the group of workers making well over $50,000.00, the homeless cannot find a home to live into. This is a stain upon the hearts and souls of Americans. The world sees the most powerful and one of the wealthiest countries allowing the young, the disabled, vets, and elderly to live on streets and have no coverage from Mother Nature and her whims of changes. There are thousands of children sleeping on streets, in dumps, and under trees. This is not the American values the forefathers envisioned.
Many factors can contribute to a person becoming homeless. These factors include (but are not limited to):
• Lack of affordable housing
• Job loss
• Lack of health care
• Mental illness
• Substance abuse
• Domestic violence
The official poverty rate is 14.5%, meaning 45.3 million people in the US live in poverty, up by over 8 million since 2008. An additional 97.3 million (33%) of people living in the United States are low-income, defined as incomes below twice the federal poverty line, or $47,700 for a family of four. In a country that has so much available, and so much technology, we still find millions in poverty. Many of these are single parents working at jobs that take anywhere from one week to two months of training to be paid a wage of $10.00 per hour, not enough to survive, nor provide adequate livelihoods for any family, or individual. In 2014, the official U.S. poverty level for a family of 4 was $24,008. (See Census Bureau “Poverty Thresholds”.) With a 40 hour week, a family of 4 with one minimum wage earner (working 52 weeks a year, typically with no paid vacation) would earn $15,080, only 62 percent of the poverty level.
Poverty rates are rising more quickly in suburbs than urban areas, the data show. The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research, and policy solution organization reports that low-income populations in suburbs surrounding the country’s largest metropolitan areas grew 66 percent from 2000 through 2013, while urban cores saw only 30 percent growth. Compounding the financial stress on low-income suburbanites is their spatial distance from federal programs aimed at fighting poverty. These programs, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid, help America’s poorest citizens but can be difficult to access for those outside a metropolitan center. In McAllen, Texas, more than 85 percent of low-income residents lived outside the inner city in 2008, according to the Brookings Institute. The Medicaid and Food Stamp offices, however, are located downtown. Though they can be accessed remotely, these programs are inconvenient to access for rural residents.
The world is awash in personal wealth: $153.2 trillion in total, according to Allianz’s new Global Wealth Report 2015. That’s enough to pay three times the world’s sovereign debt, the debts of each nation. The report, which measured 2014 wealth, found 2014 was the third consecutive year in which global wealth grew more than 7%. The jump was largely the result of households pumping up their personal savings efforts. The U.S. — with $63.5 trillion in total private wealth — holds the largest amount of any country in the world. But that wealth is unevenly distributed, and nowhere is that more evident than in the U.S., which also has the largest wealth inequality gap of 55 countries studied, according to the report.
Yes, Americans can celebrate the fact that America is financially the richest nation in the world, but at the same time can hang their head in shame for having such high percentages in the Poor, Hungry and Homeless. The government is not the answer, for it takes money out of the hands of those who truly can help the Americans in poverty. To truly assist those poverty stricken Americans, it will take Americans of all political leanings, all religious leanings and at all ages to ban together to make the real difference. Corporations need to understand that just one more dollar per hour will give an extra $200.00 per employee of spending cash, which will bring an extra $2600.00 annually to the family, and the neighbors of those who see children without clothing, toys or food can donate yesterday’s hand me downs, make an extra large meal once in a while and share with the less fortunate families, and all free Patriots of America can demand the best in services from healthcare to housing, to supplemental food to our Military vets and seniors, for they have worked years to make America this most amazing country.