Friday, December 2, 2022

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Group wants rollbacks of some IA voting restrictions; RSV, Flu, COVID: KY faces "Triple Threat" this winter; Appeals court halts special master review of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.

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The Senate passes a bill forcing a labor agreement in an effort to avoid a costly railway worker strike. The House Ways and Means Committee has former President Trump's tax returns in hand. The Agriculture Committee is looking at possible regulations for cryptocurrency following the collapse of cryptocurrency giant FTX. The Supreme Court will be reviewing the legality of Biden s student debt relief program next year. Anti-semitic comments from Ye spark the deletion of tweets from the the House Judiciary Committee GOP's Twitter account.

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The first-ever "trout-safe" certification goes to an Idaho fish farm, the Healthy Housing Initiative helps improve rural communities' livability, and if Oklahoma is calling to you, a new database makes it easier for buyers and builders to find available lots.

Report: Pandemic Policies Reduce Poverty in Massachusetts

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Tuesday, February 8, 2022   

A new report shows financial supports made available in the pandemic have led to a direct reduction in poverty in Massachusetts.

From expanded unemployment benefits and Child Tax Credit payments to increases in food assistance, the report said targeted benefits have shown there is a way to cut childhood poverty in half.

Nancy Wagman, research and Kids Count director for the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and the report's author, contended today's poverty and racial disparities are partly a result of past policies. She cited decades of low wages, housing discrimination and denying Black veterans GI benefits after World War II, and said major investments are needed to reverse those impacts.

"There's really an opportunity to learn from some of these investments during the pandemic emergency that we can take and move forward," Wagman urged. "We can ensure that every family, regardless of their immigration status, has enough to make ends meet."

In addition to federal supports, Wagman pointed out the state has a role as well, to help promote building generational wealth, through supporting small businesses, homeownership programs or student debt cancellation, for instance.

She added Massachusetts should invest in universal child care, make sure schools are well-funded and address the root causes of unaffordable and unstable housing.

Laura Meisenhelter, executive director of North Shore Community Action Programs in Peabody, said when a crisis happens, the first people to take the hit are those who are low income, and they are the last to recover.

"Many of the government-funded programs increased their income guidelines, so people who ordinarily would not have been able to get help can," Meisenhelter explained. "It's a struggle getting the word out to them."

Joe Diamond, executive director of the Massachusetts Association for Community Action, said as Community Action Agencies work to let people know about what's available to them, it is important to make sure critical policies are extended.

"Our experience with the pandemic, and the way that we've reacted to it as nonprofits and working with partners in government, reinforces the fact that certain policies like strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit can become a sustainable platform for stability and prosperity for low-income workers," Diamond stated.

Disclosure: Massachusetts Association for Community Action contributes to our fund for reporting on Housing/Homelessness, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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