An Ohio nonprofit leader met with White House officials and a former U.S. Congresswoman from Ohio Wednesday to talk about how Biden administration measures have impacted Black Americans.
Prentiss Haney, co-executive director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative spoke with members of President Joe Biden’s cabinet and special assistants to the president in the areas of housing, finance, climate and racial justice in a Wednesday webinar on the impact of measure like the American Rescue Plan and the child care tax credit.
“For decades in Ohio, there has been a child care crisis,” Haney said.
Haney said the child care tax credit, which has since expired, directly impacted his family as his sister navigated the pandemic as a single mother and a child care provider.
With the tax credit, his sister was able to use the additional income for clothes, books and schools fees so his nephew could start kindergarten.
Advocates like Haney and others across the state have called on the federal government to reinstate the child care tax credit, saying access to quality child care and the ability to afford it is an issue that affects the economy as a whole, as providers faced staff shortages and burnout, and families struggled to afford it amid pandemic job losses.
Despite multiple comments criticizing ARPA money, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has seen fit to use the funds, including pledging last March to use some for child care providers.
With ARPA funds, specifically local and fiscal recovery dollars distributed to create the Franklin County RISE program, which provides grants, teacher supports and child care scholarships, Haney said other child care providers like his sister have what they need.
“They are both building an economy that works for all of us and supporting communities that can thrive,” Haney said.
The funding sources provided through ARPA and other pandemic-era programs have worked to address housing and racial issues as well, according to former U.S. Representative for Ohio and current Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia Fudge.
“We understand how deeply African Americans care about the economy, especially when it comes to housing,” Fudge said.
While housing affordability is linked to a shortage in the number of available homes, according to Fudge, the number of people of color who are without homes is linked to something much deeper. Fudge said 40% of those experiencing homelessness are people of color, the lack of a stable home comes from racism within the system.
“We are focused on helping people who have borne the brunt of these inequities while tackling systemic racism,” Fudge said.
But many of the ARPA funds that can be used to support housing, child care and other needs across the country are still sitting in coffers, with only a fraction of the funds spent nationwide.
Ohio has spent a significant amount of the funds to pay off a $1.5 billion federal unemployment loan, another half-billion dollars on Appalachian community grants and another large chunk on Intel incentives for their new Jersey Township venture, according to Cleveland.com.
As of October, the state’s food banks, which have made desperate requests to restock their shelves and funding levels, have received about $15 million in pandemic funds.
Studies have shown that not only did minorities suffer disparities during the pandemic, but those problems mirror the issues that the communities in Ohio suffered before COVID-19 set in.
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