North Dakota was allocated $352 million in pandemic rent assistance, only to return $149 million, due to a faulty distribution system. (Grand Forks Herald editorial, 01/12/2022). Not enough effort was made to get the money to those who needed it most.
At the national level, the United States House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act (BBB) last November. This bill would have continued policies that lifted 3-4 million people out of poverty last year by expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and helping low-wage workers make ends meet through the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). It has also made critical investments to help families find stable and affordable housing through additional housing choice vouchers.
Congress authorized the 2021 provisions of the CTC and EITC to expire in December, jeopardizing the progress we have made in reducing child poverty, supporting working people and promoting justice racial. In addition, funding for 300,000 new housing choice vouchers was lost. As we know, the BBB stalled in the Senate. Negotiators are currently working on adopting a new version of BBB. It is essential that basic policies that help children, workers and tenants are part of any agreement.
Concerned about the plight of our nation’s children, over the past few years, researchers from the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute have worked together to identify policies that can improve the lives of our children. Although these experts express divergent positions on how to meet the needs, they are united in their agreement that our government must rebalance our investments in children. (Rebalancing: Children First, A Report of the AEI-Brookings Working Group on Childhood in the United States). In other words, the pundits on both sides of the political aisle are urging us to take heed and provide the resources necessary to secure a bright future for the next generation, recognizing that we are not doing so.
Our Congressional delegation, Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong, are able to make a crucial difference. Ask them to support the expansion of the CTC and EITC and the funding of new Housing Choice Vouchers. The future of our children is at stake.