FAST FACT: How the Safety Net is Failing Americans

January 12, 2010 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird

Our national safety net—a system of programs designed to assist those most in need—was inaugurated in response to the Great Depression. Now is the perfect time to reflect on the strength of these programs as our country struggles to pull itself out of the worst recession since that historical low. The Institute for Policy Studies, the Center for Community Change, Jobs with Justice, and Legal Momentum have teamed up to conduct this essential and timely analysis. In the resulting report, Battered by the Storm, they find that the safety net is failing Americans and offer proposals on how to fix it. According to the report,

The current recession has only widened the already gaping holes in our social safety infrastructure…a recession for Whites is a depression for African Americans, Latinos, and single mothers and children.

Among the startling stats this report shares are,

  • State and local homeless advocacy groups are seeing a 61 percent rise in homelessness since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007
  • Women who are heads of households have an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent, compared to 5.9 percent for married mothers.
  • One in eight Americans is now receiving food stamps, an all-time high.

To get our economy back on track, the report proposes a $400 billion investment in job creation, fiscal relief for state and local government, and income support. It also lays out key principles for a more effective approach to end poverty, including indexing minimum wage to half the average wage level, affordable quality health coverage for all, and sufficient investment in the education and development of all children. To read the report, click here.

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