Thursday, April 24, 2008

Don't Turn Away, Ohio

We must focus on the basics with a greater priority on financial resources for the poorest of the poor. The failure of government to ensure all families and individuals have sufficient income to meet their basic needs has caused holes in the safety net to steadily worsen.

We call on the Governor and the Ohio General Assembly to support the following:

• Public assistance benefits through the Ohio Works First program should be increased by $100 per month. Currently, the average family receives a combined income of cash and Food Stamps at roughly 50% of the poverty level.

• Health care services must be available to all adults earning less than 100% of the federal poverty level. Individuals not eligible for Medicaid lack the capacity to provide themselves with essential health care.

• Mental health and substance abuse services must be available to all adults and children below the poverty level. Treatment is often jeopardized by a lack of basic needs. Personal and financial recovery must proceed together.

• The disability determination process must be fixed. With two systems (Medicaid and Social Security) to navigate, people waste months or years trying to get the help they need.

We call upon the President and Congress to address the related federal issues:

• Food Stamp benefits are too low. Food Stamp benefits must be increased to meet 100% of the nutritional needs of poor families. Food Stamps are intended to supplement about 75% of a family’s nutritional needs. The presumption is people could make up the difference. With stagnant income levels and the increased cost of living, this is not possible. The end result overwhelms our food pantries and soup kitchens.

• Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are too low and need to be increased substantially. Payments for the elderly and disabled, in Ohio, average $430 a month (about 55% of the poverty level). Maximum payment is $637 per month (75% of the poverty level). These people cannot work, yet they are forced to live with the constant struggle to meet their basic needs.

We must provide sufficient benefits through our safety net programs to meet all basic needs for these families. This is already a crisis for the people affected by these issues.

We call upon our state and federal elected representatives to not turn away from these serious problems.

We must take immediate action!

Please contact your federal and state elected officials to urge them to address these issues!