The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
The record-breaking floods over the past week in Houston sadly remind us all of the fragility of our homes and refuges in the face of extreme weather. Many homes were destroyed in the severe flooding in Houston, along with two synagogues. Help support the people affected by the floods in Houston through the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston here. The floods also remind of the many individuals whose were not lost, but who were experiencing homelessness before and now will have to face even greater challenges to be safe and secure in a home of their own. While we reach out to and try to support those in Houston, we must also take action to ensure accessible, affordable housing for all people through legislative advocacy.
Congress is in the middle of the arduous appropriations process, in which all the programs, agencies and departments run by federal government are given their budget for the next year. Affordable housing is thrown into the mix in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill proposed by the House, which would significantly reduce funding and would also reduce access to affordable housing, thereby making it harder for those experiencing homelessness to ultimately have their own home.
We need affordable housing that can allow families to move into lower poverty areas and provide everyone with homes in places that can give the, these opportunities. We need to ensure that there are affordable housing opportunities that can ensure that families can move out of higher poverty neighborhoods and can therefore be in communities where these benefits can be offered.
We need more affordable housing across the United States: in every state, a minimum of one in four low income renters spent over half of their income on housing in 2013 and over 10 million low-income renter households had severe rent burdens.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in 2011, the average U.S. employee needed to make $18.46 per hour – more than twice the federal minimum wage – to afford a modest two-bedroom rental and still pay for food and other basic needs. One way that you can take action is by encouraging Congress to fund the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). In 2008, Congress created the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008 to create 3.5 million affordable housing units. The National Housing Trust Fund is the only resource dedicated solely to funding affordable housing for people most at risk of becoming homeless, focusing on the most vulnerable and low-income populations.
The housing appropriations bill (discussed above) would effectively eliminate the Housing Trust Fund and the NHTF still needs congressional funding, even though funding started to flow to the NHTF for the first time in December 2014. Take action and urge your Members of Congress to support the National Housing Trust Fund!
Jewish tradition teaches that it is more valuable to help a person become self-sufficient than it is to give the person a hand-out of food or money. The Talmud teaches us that, “The person who lends money [to a poor person] is greater than the person who gives charity; and the one who throws money into a common purse [to form a partnership with the poor person] is greater than either” (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 63b). We are commanded to help those less fortunate on the path of self-sufficiency so that one day they will not need assistance.