Aisha Nyandoro, CEO of Springboard, has an op-ed in the Clarion Ledger on Sunday, September 18. Aisha discusses the important, challenging work of helping families in supportive housing become successful in work and life, despite all of the obstacles. Significant policy reform is urgently needed so that families won’t continue to take one step forward and two steps back.
“Imagine this: You finally get a minimum-wage job working 40 hours a week. This step toward economic security will cost a $200 to $300 rent increase (on average), the loss of your utility reimbursement and possibly the added cost of child care if there are no vouchers available. Also, your families’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will decrease. All of these changes will occur within the first two months of your new employment, without an opportunity to get acclimated to your new financial obligations. This scenario is the reality for the more than 5 million Americans that live in supportive housing.
Despite this knowing, nonprofit leaders like me keep stepping. What other choice do we have? We keep working to empower families, hoping against hope that we are not setting them up for failure in a system full of disappointments. We keep working because we know that the risk of doing nothing is too great. We are stuck in what Quaker author and On Being columnist Parker Palmer calls the “tragic gap — the gap between the hard realities around us and what we know is possible — not because we wish it were so but because we’ve seen it with our own eyes.”