When I was in third grade, my brother and I walked every day to school from a local homeless shelter. Having fallen on hard times and unable to make rent, my family traveled from place to place until fortunately we were given access to one of the city’s rarest resources, a spot in a shelter.
Our time in the shelter ended when my mother qualified for a housing voucher and was able to reunite the family in a small but homey subsidized apartment. As a 10-year-old, I became acutely aware of the importance of public funds for homelessness and affordable housing.
Stories like mine seem invisible as congressional Republicans move to pass a short-sighted tax plan.
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If implemented, poor and minority families in California stand to lose big, while corporations and the rich benefit. The plan released by House Republicans includes cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and eliminating the alternative minimum tax and estate tax. It’s estimated to cost$1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
Republicans say their plan will boost economic growth to pay for it all. But the 1980s Reagan tax cuts show that’s unlikely so inevitably these tax cuts would drive up the federal deficit, leading to cuts in programs that many Californians need to survive.
In our state, nearly 500,000 low-income households depend on federal rental assistance. Housing vouchers provide a lifeline for more than 300,000 California households and have led to significant improvements in earnings and education.
At the same time, there’s a $133 million reduction of federal homeless assistance grants. According to a 2015 study, California’s homeless population was about 115,000, about one-fifth of the national total, and it’s only getting worse. Add to this a further decrease in support of public housing, which is in need of nearly $26 billion in repairs, and the picture becomes even more grim.
All tax cuts are not bad. We should always be asking our government to do more with our taxes. But when the cuts come at the expense of poor, homeless and working families, they need to be challenged.
A public shelter and housing voucher saved my life. All I can think about is those who will suffer, or even die, if this tax cut plan is approved. Now is the time to call your representatives in Congress and tell them to stand up for all Californians, not just the richest.
Marcus Anthony Hunter is an associate professor of sociology and chairman of African-American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.