Charities cannot be the only ones working to solve the hunger and housing crises

Each of us has been affected by the COVID pandemic. Among the hardest hit are the economically vulnerable, including those who are homeless or near homeless, and those struggling with food insecurity.

Even in ordinary times (if such times exist), Philadelphians work hard and struggle every day to fill their refrigerators or put roofs over their heads. During the pandemic, these struggles have been hard to ignore: longer food queues and homeless encampments are among the obvious manifestations. Meanwhile, high unemployment rates and small business closures are adding to the already high number of hungry and homeless Philadelphians — and across the country.

We all yearn for the pandemic to subside and the economy to rebound. But we must seize the moment and work to create a stronger economy that guarantees real opportunities for all to prosper. Nonprofits have been working on the ground in Philadelphia and across the country to achieve this goal, but that success depends on the full commitment of government at all levels.

Nutritious food and affordable housing cannot be left to charities alone. It is essential that the federal government take a leadership role in ending and preventing hunger and homelessness. Federal investment can transform the lives of individuals, families and communities.

Our lawmakers in Washington, DC need to act urgently. Short-term and long-term relief bills, passed by the House of Representatives, remain stalled in the Senate. One is the HEROES Act, which provides much-needed rent assistance and significant increases to nutrition programs like SNAP. Another is HR 2, a massive infrastructure bill designed to ensure people have the jobs and incomes that can provide food and shelter. Representative Dwight Evans recently introduced the Making Housing Matter plan, and we hope it will help vulnerable landlords and tenants. It’s a basic question: people can’t survive without food on their table and without a roof over their heads.

Just as nonprofits and communities need to work together to meet increased needs during this pandemic, we need our federal government to do the same. People everywhere are struggling. We need policies, programs and resources that will prevent families from falling into homelessness and poverty during this pandemic, and help them thrive once it is over.

We have already fought against the problems of poverty and homelessness. But Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell noted: “The economic shock wrought by the coronavirus pandemic has exposed a series of ‘troubling inequalities,'” most of which predate the current crisis. No single organization or solution will solve the challenges we face – that’s why we need our leaders to step up and pass bills that will support our friends, neighbors, sisters and brothers, now and in the future.

A crisis is a time when communities come together. No one wants to queue for food or stay in temporary shelter. Even in the midst of this painful economic episode, the United States has more than enough food, housing, and resources to keep every citizen from being hungry, homeless, poor, without health care, or stuck in education systems. mediocre.

The COVID pandemic shows us, however, that economic security can be elusive. Project HOME and Philabundance are committed to working together and with partners to ensure that all individuals and families have safe permanent housing and food on their table. We call on our representatives in Congress to do the same. When all of us, including local, state and federal governments, play our part, we can put the nation on the path to true economic healing.

Loree D. Jones is the CEO of Philabundance. Sister Mary Scullion is President and Executive Director of Project HOME.