The rapid spread of COVID-19 is so threatening to families and our health care system, the government has asked us to stay home. The government has taken steps to get money into the hands of families as fast as possible to sustain the economy through the crisis. These are not perfect steps, and we have to work together to identify what is not working and who is being left out.
As an organization, VOICE has worked to identify and address the issues that face families. Our work has included actions on education, debt, predatory lending, utility costs, criminal justice reform, immigration, and more. These are the very issues that are now the fault lines in this crisis. For too long, as a society, we’ve built the economic success of a few on the backs of the poor and disenfranchised. Consider these statistics from before the current crisis:
- 43% of the US workforce made less than $15/hour
- 53% had no emergency savings
- 70 million Americans did not even have a bank account
- 33.6 million workers were without paid sick leave
Oklahoma families struggle with debt, from crushing interest rates charged by predatory lenders, to medical and court-related debt, student loan debt, and more. It will be difficult to rev the economy back up as we come out of this, if these issues are not addressed. If you are struggling with loss of income or debt, we’ve put together a resource page to help you.
We’ve also put together a letter to Governor Stitt about debt, asking him to make payday lenders nonessential businesses during this crisis, more directly address concerns from renters and landlords, and cease the collection of medical- and court-related debt. If you would like to sign in support of this letter, please do so here.
We’re also working to get grocery workers to be designated as first responders, which would draw down federal dollars to provide them with childcare, get better access to testing and COVID-related medical care, and get them better access to personal protective equipment.
Sign up below for more information on VOICE's economic justice work.