Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Beaver State are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need.
Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond. The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.
These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions.
Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.
Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding. We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.
1) Food insecurity in Oregon is a serious problem as 13.9% of households face low or very low food security. With poverty rates close to national averages, what programs are in place to increase food security and provide assistance to the large impoverished population?
2) There is currently no state Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program in Oregon. Is there a plan to introduce one?
3) The WIC benefit rate in Oregon is among the lowest in the country. Given the high rates of poverty in Oregon, is there an effort being made to increase the monthly WIC benefit?
4) Only 35% of adults living below the federal poverty line are covered by Government Health insurance programs. Is there any movement to increase accessibility for those who need it most?
5) Only 7% of 4 year olds are enrolled in State Pre-K Program. This is well below the national average of 23%. Is anything being done to expand the program to include more 4 year olds in State Pre-K?
6) Oregon spends 10.6% of its state budget on corrections. This is the second highest in the country. Is there any effort underway to reform the state corrections system, perhaps by reducing recidivism or alternative sentencing?
7) Only 12.7% of taxpayers receive the federal EITC. This is below the national average of 15%. Is any effort being made to expand access to this credit for members of your state?
8) Unemployment in the state is well above average at 10.5%, the 7th highest out of all the states. What is being done to create jobs? Who is involved?
9) Oregon has the second highest point in time percentage of homeless citizens in the country, yet only 25% of eligible people receive housing benefits. Furthermore, the percentage of mortgage holders and renters spending 30% or more of their income on rent and utilities/monthly owner costs is above average. What is being done to prevent people from losing their homes and/or to help those who already have? Is there any push for more affordable, low-income housing?
10) 10.6% of the state budget is spent on corrections, the 2nd highest percent in the nation. What effort is there to look into alternative forms of correction and methods to reduce recidivism?
11) What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?
Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected].
Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.