Tag Archive | social justice

Healing & Thriving Communities Requires Expanding Opportunity for All

By Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity, Heartland Alliance

The city of Ferguson is, unfortunately, not unique. Ferguson is emblematic of far too many American communities home to millions of Americans facing barriers to opportunity and justice.  When we take a deeper look at Ferguson, we see a community burdened by significantly higher and deeper poverty than the rest of the country and its surrounding area – many residents being one or two crises away from experiencing homelessness and many facing significant food insecurity [1]. Sadly, hardships like these are felt in countless other large and small places across the country. If Ferguson and communities like it are to heal and thrive, we know we have to achieve policy change that expands opportunity.
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“A Beautiful Way to Live”: How One California Farm is Helping Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Rep. Sam Farr and HGP’s Executive Director, Darrie Ganzhorn, tour the Homeless Garden Project’s farm.

Inspired by the National Transitional Jobs Network’s (NTJN) Getting America Back to Work Campaign, the Homeless Garden Project (HGP) recently hosted an in-district site visit from Congressman Sam Farr, California (D), at its three-acre organic farm in Santa Cruz.  Given Congressman Farr’s commitment to protect California’s agricultural sector and strengthen resources for vulnerable populations, HGP’s farm was the ideal spot for Congressman Farr to spend a sunny—and busy!—afternoon learning more about Transitional Jobs (TJ) programs for individuals experiencing homelessness.

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“Unwaivering” on Work: A Step Toward Improving TANF’s Employment Outcomes

As the result of a recent Information Memorandum from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), there’s been a lot of buzz about potential changes to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.  Some of this talk, unfortunately, has dragged pervasive fears about public safety-net programs creating a “culture of dependency” back into the limelight.  You know what I’m talking about—the belief that providing low-income families with public assistance will create a group of chronically unemployed citizens who suck up and spend tax-payer dollars.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the powerful rhetoric around fostering welfare dependency—it’s a simple, straightforward, and alarmist narrative aimed straight at our cultural reverence for work.  But in this case, it’s also just not true.  The TANF program has always been about work; in fact, one of TANF’s primary goals is to reduce needy parents’ dependency by promoting job preparation and work.  Any changes to state TANF work outcomes attributable to the HHS memorandum would be the result of state proposals to improve employment programs.  To see how this works, let’s put the federal TANF program into context.

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