Statement by Peter Manzo, President & CEO of United Ways California, Regarding New SNAP Requirements
United Ways of California improves the health, education and financial stability of low-income workersand families by enhancing and coordinating the advocacy and community impact work of 31 member United Ways throughout California.
Earlier this year we wrote to the Certification Policy Branch of the SNAP Program Development Division of the Food and Nutrition Service office in the U.S. Department of Agriculture opposing the White House’s proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Click here to read our correspondence.
Today we underscore our opposition. The new requirements hurt food insecure families.
37% of all California households struggle to stay afloat. And 9 out of 10 of these households have at least one working adult in them. 30% of California residents spend more than a third of their income on rent, and some spend up to 76%, which means that after paying rent, many low-income working families have little to meet all their other needs, such as transportation, medical necessities, child care, and food. Without CalFresh food assistance, hundreds of thousands of low-income working families would go hungry.
A sad fact of American life is that 40% of households, including middle class earners, would have trouble meeting an unexpected expense of only $400. California and the United States should be doing more to help working families build savings and assets, to move toward financial security.
The new SNAP requirements take us in exactly the wrong direction. They eliminate benefits for all individuals (including seniors and persons with disabilities) if their assets exceed $3,500. Small savings accounts and other modest assets are all that stand between many households and homelessness. Depriving these families of SNAP food assistance not only guarantees more families will go hungry, it pushes them those lucky enough to have some modest savings to drain them down to zero, putting them at greater risk of catastrophe.
Even Californians who continue to receive CalFresh under the new SNAP requirements are likely to see lower benefits as the program is nearly fully federally funded. Those working to support children will be hit hardest. Especially those working to support young children—60% of all households in California with children under 5 have a hard time meeting their basic needs. And food insecure children experience developmental, educational, health, and other challenges with both short and long term repercussions.
Statement by Peter Manzo, President & CEO of United Ways California, Denouncing Epidemic of Hatred and Gun Violence
Our hearts break for the victims of the horrific shootings in Gilroy CA, El Paso TX, and Dayton OH, and for everyone touched by these tragedies. We stand United with these communities and our colleagues at United Way Bay Area, United Way of El Paso County, and United Way of Greater Dayton.
Unfortunately, we have seen far too many communities across the US ravaged by mass shootings, lives taken in mere seconds, and countless others forever changed by the trauma of our country’s gun violence epidemic.
We must commit to is addressing gun violence in unequivocal terms as the public health crisis it clearly is and begin to speak plainly about what enables this epidemic. It is well past time that we collectively put a concerted emphasis on gun violence research to inform public health strategies to remove the vectors that give rise to it, and to develop a comprehensive response as a nation to this epidemic ravaging our communities.
The perpetrators of at least two of these heinous acts were indoctrinated in a dangerous and deadly ideology of white nationalism allowed to fester online, in divisive public rhetoric, and now increasingly spilling into our streets, our churches, our schools — places we gather together in community. That hatred is not mental illness, and it must be squarely faced and rejected by all Americans.
United Ways around the world work to strengthen families and communities. United Ways of California condemns hate groups and the violence that they engender. We will continue to work in partnership with those that seek to strengthen our communities, celebrate our diversity, and Live United in our never ending quest to build a more perfect union.
New United Way Report: 37 Percent of California Households Struggle to Meet Their Basic Needs
The 2019 Real Cost Measure determines what a decent standard of living really costs in California. We find that 37% (more than 1 in 3) households in California struggle to meet basic living costs, which is roughly three times as many as federal poverty statistics would indicate.
Other key findings include:
- More than one in three California households—over 3.8 million families (37%)—do not earn sufficient income to meet basic needs
- Workers: Of the estimated 3.8 million households in California that fall below the Real Cost Measure, 9 in 10 have at least one working adult
- 6 in 10 Young Children Live in Struggling Households: 60% of households in California with children aged between 0 and 5 fall below the Real Cost Measure
- Housing Burden: Nearly 4 in 10 households in California (38%) pay more than 30% of their income on housing. Households living below the Federal Poverty Level can spend up to a staggering 76% of their income on housing.
- Households of all Ethnicities Struggle, but Rate is Higher for Latino and African Americans: Over 1.8 million Latino households are estimated to fall below the Real Cost Measure compared to over 1.2 million white households, 524,000 Asian American households, and 269,000 African-American households
- Single Mothers: Over 7 in 10 households led by single mothers in California (74%) fall below the Real Cost Measure
- As Education Increases, Rate of Struggling Households Falls: Nearly three-fourths of California householders without a high school diploma or equivalent (74%) fall below the Real Cost Measure, compared to those with at least a high school diploma (53%), those with at least some college education (38%), and those with at least a bachelor’s degree (18%)
- Foreign-Born Householders Have More Trouble Staying Afloat: Nearly one-third (30%) of California households led by a person born in the United States earn income below the Real Cost Measure. By contrast, 40% of households led by a person born outside the U.S. are below the Real Cost Measure, and that number rises to 62% when the householder is not a citizen.
Households living below the Real Cost Measure are overwhelmingly working families. They are doing their part, but as our data make clear, hard work alone is not enough to get ahead.
United Ways of California Joins State Treasurer To Launch CalSavers Retirement Savings Program
The President and CEO of United Ways of California, Peter Manzo, joins California State Treasurer, Fiona Ma, former State Senator and Senate President Pre Tempore, Kevin de Leon, representatives from the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Investment Board, as well as business, nonprofit, organized labor, and consumer advocacy champions today in the Traffic Circle in front of the State Treasurer’s Office to officially launch the CalSavers Retirement Savings Program—a new state facilitated, privately invested, workplace retirement savings program designed to offer California workers a simple, portable, and low cost way to save for the future.
“United Ways of California is excited to partner with the CalSavers Retirement Program to help Californians become more financially secure,” said United Ways of California President and CEO, Pete Manzo. “In California, 7.5 million people don't have access to a workplace retirement plan. As a result, too few California workers save for retirement and retire into financial hardship—the majority of whom are women and people of color. CalSavers will help improve this crisis by providing a simple, portable, low-cost way for workers to save and invest in their futures to truly move them toward financial stability.”
United Ways of California Lauds U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Decision to Temporarily Halt Addition of Citizenship Question in 2020 Census
United Ways of California (UWCA) celebrates the United States Supreme Court’s decision to remand to the district court in New York the question of whether to permit addition of an untested and unnecessary citizenship question in the 2020 Census—whose data will inform policy-making, determine the allocation of over $800 billion in funding and the makeup of our electoral representation, drive business decisions, and inform service providers and advocates about the needs of diverse communities.
“We are thankful the Court has, for now, halted the addition of the citizenship to the Census. United Ways, along with our partners and grantees support a range of initiatives that rely upon the completeness and accuracy of the 2020 Census,” said Peter Manzo, UWCA President and CEO. “These include increasing access to healthcare for the uninsured and underinsured; ending homelessness; increasing access to early childhood and youth development opportunities; providing chances to learn beyond high school; supporting community development; creating access to affordable housing; and delivering safety net services to vulnerable communities.”
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