Membership Messages

Fahe Advocacy Update: House appropriation process progresses; Federal government weighs changing poverty line; Harvard center on housing studies to release report on June 25th

The Latest

  • House appropriation process progresses; includes important direction to HUD and Agriculture Departments
  • Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposes changing the poverty level – making fewer people eligible for programs

Longer Term

  • Harvard center on housing studies set to release State of the Nation’s Housing Report on June 25th
  • Student loan debt is becoming increasingly burdensome for everyday Americans, elected leaders propose new solutions

The Latest

The House of Representatives this week plans to vote on a “minibus” package which includes several appropriation bills including Agriculture and Rural Development + Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Fahe has reported on some of the investments made in these proposed bills in previous Advocacy Updates, and will continue to update you. Both these two bills included language for which Fahe and our partners in the Persistent Poverty Working Group have advocated: to report on how much of their funding goes to persistent poverty areas. This information is currently unknown publicly, and once we receive this data, we will be able to prove what so many of our members suspect: that federal funding is not going to the areas that need it in the amount that those areas require. Armed with this data, we will be able to make a stronger case for increased federal investment.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has recently announced plans to revise the way that the Federal government calculates inflation for purposes of setting the poverty line. While the difference between the current “Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers” and the proposed “Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index” may sound merely technical or slight, the effect would be to slow the growth of the poverty line over time – making fewer people eligible for programs. The bottom line is that over time less and less federal funding will flow into our communities, leaving more and more people without a lifeline for medical care, energy assistance, or free and reduced lunch programs. Analysts and advocates have determined that this change would cause more than 250,000 seniors to lose access to Medicare Part D’s Low-Income Subsidy Program, more than 250,000 adults to lose access to Medicaid in expansion states, and more than 300,000 children to lose coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Please join Fahe in commenting on the OMB proposal by clicking here. Comments must be made by Friday, June 21, 2019. If you are commenting, and would like a place to start you may like to use the following language:

Where I work in Appalachia [or insert State] many people in our communities unfortunately have to rely on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program for healthcare for themselves and their children. Furthermore, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and some weatherization programs use the poverty line as their eligibility criteria. Families at or near the poverty line rely on these programs for energy assistance, a problem that is disproportionately acute in Appalachia. The proposed change would slow the growth of the federal poverty line, making it harder for people in our region to build broadly based prosperity, to combat the opioid crisis, and to reduce stubbornly high rates of unemployment and poverty.

Longer Term

On June 25th, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies will release their State of the Nation’s Housing Report 2019. The event will be live streamed from their website and will feature a panel highlighting key findings and implications for housing markets across the country. This report has historically shed light on causes of the nation-wide trends affecting housing costs—for renters and buyers alike—by tracking increased land and construction costs, regulatory burdens, and other causes.

Recent reports on America’s $1.5 trillion worth of federal student loan debt are sounding alarms. Leaders on both sides of the aisle are exploring options to limit student debt loads and make more manageable the repayment of existing debt. The Trump Administration has pushed Congress to cap borrowing and make college more affordable, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed a plan to cancel a large portion of student loan debt in the hopes of providing an economic stimulus to America’s middle-classes. As Fahe Members know from experience, unreasonable student loan debt limits a person’s ability to buy a home, have a family, and build a future, so we are glad to see this focus increasing.

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