Monday, October 1, 2012

MAP's Chair Writes a Letter to the Editor Concerning Elected Officials Ignoring the Needs of Low-Income Individuals

On Sunday, September 30th MAP's Chair had a Letter to the Editor published in the Baltimore Sun concerning recent stories of widespread poverty in Baltimore, juxtaposition to stories detailing how some public officials are supporting various cuts to funding and programs that assist Baltimore families and individuals in poverty 

www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-poverty-20120930,0,5001613.story


In tough times, elected officials ignore the needs of the poor

Some may be shocked by Steve Kilar's recent story highlighting the fact that one in four Baltimore residents live in poverty, and that many more struggle just above the outdated official poverty line ("Baltimore's poverty rate unchanged at 1 in 4 residents," Sept. 20).

The 28 organizations that comprise the Maryland Alliance for the Poor see the impact of widespread poverty every day in their programs and clinics. The realities of poverty in Baltimore are stark: 11.1 percent of the labor force is officially unemployed, and even those who work full-time at the minimum wage have incomes below the poverty line.

Nearly half of households with very low incomes are severely housing burdened — that is, they pay more than 50 person of their income on housing costs. More than 4,000 people are homeless every day, and thousands more are in unstable situations "doubled-up" with friends or family.

One in four households receive food stamps, and 83 percent of children enrolled in the Baltimore City Public School system are so impoverished that they qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

What's more shocking is that when times are this tough, some members of Congress are considering cuts to the social safety net. Reduced funding for the food stamp program would harm the most vulnerable members of our community. Many of our neighbors — the working poor and their children, people with disabilities, and the elderly — need this program to put food on the table.

What's most shocking is that at a time when Baltimore City ostensibly is committed to ending homelessness, it's waiving its own requirements for the creation of affordable housing, as Mr. Kilar reported on the same day the new poverty statistics came out ("Affordable housing requirement waived for Superblock," Sept. 20)

Federal proposals to cut programs like food stamps show a utter indifference to the tens of millions of people who are struggling to meet basic needs. For local officials to sidestep rules set up to create affordable housing for the poor calls into question their commitment to the very people who they're supposed to represent.
I may not be part of "the 47 percent" but I still believe that simple human decency entitles everyone have adequate food and shelter, even those working minimum wage jobs or with disabilities.
The decisions of our elected and appointed leaders will show what they believe. Do they believe poor kids should be able to eat? Do they believe low-income families should be homeless?

In these tough times, we need to make our voices heard in support of programs and policies that meet people's basic needs and build better futures.

Adam Schneider, Baltimore
The writer is chairman of the Maryland Alliance for the Poor.





Wednesday, August 15, 2012

As SNAP benefits are being threatened in Congress, MAP works to protect SNAP

Maryland Alliance for the Poor has joined member organization Maryland Hunger Solutions (MDHS) in voicing opposition to proposed SNAP cuts in Congress through MDHS' Paper Apple Campaign.The Farm Bill proposal passed on July 12 by the House Agriculture Committee slashes funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, called Food Supplement Program in Maryland) by $16 billion over ten years. It does this mainly by restricting states’ ability to implement broad-based Categorical Eligibility (Cat EL) and “heat and eat” – two ways to coordinate SNAP with other low-income programs. By cutting Cat El, thousands of Marylanders would lose their SNAP benefits.

To show the widespread support for SNAP, Maryland Hunger Solutions - a member organization of MAP - coordinated daily drop offs of Paper Apples bearing the message, "SNAP Works" to the district offices of Representatives Van Hollen and Hoyer during the week of August 13-17.
The campaign has collected hundreds of Paper Apples from people struggling with food insecurity, service providers, faith communities, advocates, and farmers. MAP's own member organizations collected Paper Apples throughout August, and representatives from MAP dropped the Paper Apples off to Representatives Van Hollen and Hoyer on Wednesday, August 15th on behalf of Maryland Hunger Solution's Paper Apple Campaign. 

To view samples of apples that have been sent to Congress, please visit Maryland Hunger Solution's SNAP Works Album, found here: http://marylandhungersolutions.org/pdf/paper_apple_snap_works_album.pdf

To view a press release about the Paper Apple Campaign, please visit: 
http://marylandhungersolutions.org/press/12august_mdhs_paper_apple_snapworks.shtm


Monday, January 30, 2012

MAP Welcomes the 2012 Maryland General Assembly

The 2012 Maryland General Assembly is officially in session.  As MAP traditionally has done at the beginning of each session, we took the opportunity to brief the Senate Budget & Tax Committee and the House Appropriations Committee on the state of poverty of Maryland.  In conjunction with these briefings, MAP has released our annual Briefing Book, which you can find under the “Briefing Book” tab of this webpage. 

The 2012 legislative session brings with it many challenges.  Maryland – and the nation – continues on a sluggish journey out of the deepest recession in decades.  Today, even as the economy shows some signs of recovery from the Great Recession, many Marylanders remain jobless or underemployed.  For many of our neighbors struggling to make ends meet, the recovery is weak, slow and uncertain.  The safety net programs that help vulnerable Marylanders meet their basic needs – programs like Temporary Cash Assistance, Temporary Disability Assistance Program, Food Stamps and Medicaid – maintain high caseloads.

At the same time, the state looks to close a 1.1 billion dollar revenue shortfall for the next year – just to maintain current levels of services.

Recovery – whether from illness, injury, or economic turmoil – takes time.  And recovery takes the longest for those who are most vulnerable and who have fallen the hardest.  During this critical time, it is vital to maintain our strong social safety net programs as Maryland families – and the economy as a whole – continue on the road to full recovery.  Throughout the General Assembly Session – and beyond – MAP and its members will be working full time to ensure that these essential programs are preserved.

MAP will provide updates via this website and on Twitter (@MAPAdvocacy) about the relevant happenings and important decisions during the General Assembly Session.  We hope you’ll check back often to read about our efforts in the struggle to reduce the prevalence of poverty in Maryland. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The No Wrong Door Project Releases its Final Report

The No Wrong Door approach in Maryland does not involve one single point of entry. Instead, the No Wrong Door approach involves multiple entry points that provide clients with access to the full range of benefits and services. This approach seeks to break down the silos between agencies and organizations and create an efficient, effective, and client- friendly system.

The purpose of the No Wrong Door Committee was to convene public agencies, private organizations, nonprofit organizations, and community action agencies that provide public benefits and social services to low income Marylanders in order to create an integrated system.

The No Wrong Door Committee explored a myriad of issues in order to make final recommendations about a No Wrong Door strategy for Maryland. The Committee formed three subcommittees to deliberate and develop recommendations: (1) Effective Strategies to Integrate Programs and Resources, (2) Technology, and (3) Effective Communication, Education, and Outreach.

Find out the No Wrong Door Committee's Final Recommendations here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chronic Disinvestment in Human Services=Unmet Needs

Report Shows Several Local Departments of Social Services Dramatically Understaffed: Nearly 1100 Family Investment Staff Needed to Manage Workload


Another Symptom of an All Cuts Approach to Maryland’s Budget
A 2011 study by the University of Baltimore (UB) Schaefer Center for Public Policy confirms that Family Investment Program (FIP) staff at Local Departments of Social Services (LDSS) experienced a 45 percent increase in workload from 2002 to 2010. All jurisdictions, except Garrett County show a staffing shortage that ranges from 6.5 percent in Somerset County to 54.2 percent in Frederick County. Without an adequate number of well-trained specialists and a technology overhaul to address customers’ needs, case backlogs, increased error rates, delays and missing paperwork will continue to occur.