1 out of every 8 women live in poverty, one-third of families headed by single mothers are poor, and over 8 million poor families can't afford their rents or don't have housing at all. A discussion on affordable housing for low-income women.
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Traynham: The National Women's Law Center reports that one out of every eight women live in poverty, 1/3 of families headed by single mothers are poor, and, according to the Urban Institute, over 8 million poor families can't afford their rents or don't have housing at all. Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Robert Traynham, and joining me today is Nora Lichtash. She's the Executive Director of the Women's Community Revitalization Project. -Nora, welcome to the program. -
Lichtash: Thank you.
Traynham: What's really interesting about the statistics that I mentioned a few moments ago is that I think most people would say, "Well, wait a minute. The economy is doing fairly well. We obviously had a huge, huge downturn in the economy back in 2008 and 2009. We all felt it, but things are looking up." But what I just mentioned a few moments ago is that there are still millions of people living in poverty, particularly women. -How can that be? -
Lichtash: That's correct. And the economy has been growing and getting better and better for many, many people, but there are those people who are still losing hours, earning minimum wage, losing jobs. And there are a lot of them across the country and in Philadelphia, too, where I live.
Traynham: Is it the working poor? How would you classify this group of individuals, and how can we help?
Lichtash: And many people are working more than one job. Minimum wage in our state is $7.25 an hour. -
Traynham: In Pennsylvania. -
Lichtash: In Pennsylvania. And it is very, very hard to earn enough money to be able to afford your housing costs, as well as all the other costs you have -- buy your kids sneakers, do everything else you need. So, I think the issue is that many folks don't know that this is a really important public-policy issue on the federal government's part, as well as state and local governments. So we need to be supporting those folks to ensure that they can afford the affordable housing.
Traynham: And what is your recommendation, from a policy standpoint? Is it affordable housing? Is it higher income, in terms of the minimum wage, a combination of both, or none of the above?
Lichtash: I think a combination of both, but people can't get to their work unless they have a house that's safe, that they can afford. So it feels like housing is foundational, but definitely raising the minimum wage is important. I think people really need to be able to stay in their communities and afford their communities. So, there's an issue around gentrification, which isn't the problem, but displacement is a problem in many communities, too.
Traynham: You know, Nora, I read that women are 35% more likely to be poor than men. Why is that the case?
Lichtash: It's because of sexism, and so often that overlaps with race and ethnicity, so it's often women of color, women with children. So, it's in our society right now, and there's things that people are doing to make that better and we need to keep trying to do that.
Traynham: Can you give some examples of what we're doing that works, in terms of best practices?
Lichtash: Well, I just know, locally, from the work that I do, that many times we think that when we don't have enough resources, we don't have a right to affect policies and resource decisions around us. And, so, core to the work that I do -- each of us who do this work, but especially women -- to build our voice, to speak up and speak out, to speak about the things we know very well, and also to do some research, to say, "We're not alone. Other people are experiencing these same issues."
Traynham: You hit the nail right on the head when you said, "We're not alone." And for the folks that are watching the program on their smart device or at home or wherever they may be, perhaps maybe they're not poor, but they want to help, or they may know someone that's poor. What can they do? How can they get involved?
Lichtash: Well, I know in every city and every locale, there are issues that are coming before your city council or coming before your state legislature. Figure out what are those things that really are affecting you, whether it's childcare, education, jobs, housing. In our city, we have a coalition called the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities. Many of the leaders are women. There are 57 organizations -- faith, labor, community, disability-rights community. And we're pushing for more resources for affordable housing.
Traynham: It sounds like that coalition is a village of trying to lift everyone up at the same time.
Lichtash: Yeah, It's a broad coalition, but we have some of the same needs. We need to repair our homes. We need to be able to afford our rents. We need to make sure our kids can get in good housing.
Traynham: Nora Lichtash, thank you very much for joining us. I hope to have you back when we can talk about the declining numbers, when we can talk about more people living with dignity, and we can talk about more people not worrying about where they're going to lay their head at night. Thank you very much for joining us. -
Lichtash: You're welcome. -
Traynham: And thank youfor joining us for this editionof "Comcast Newsmakers."I'm Robert Traynham.Have a great day, everybody.We'll see you next time.Bye-bye.