Heartbroken, Frustrated, Grateful: a tangled ball of emotions for one situation.
I went on a home visit with my husband recently. There we met Carter*. His apartment was empty, except for some clothes on the floor for his bed, a box of berries and two bottles of water. He offered the water to my husband and me.
Heartbroken: This young man, a father in his early 30s, has cancer.
Frustrated: His treatment has left him unable to work. He used his savings as long as the money lasted, then sold his belongings and moved in with a friend until he couldn’t stay any longer. For five months now, his disability claim has been “backlogged.” He has no income.
Grateful: When he was homeless, he was able to qualify for an apartment. He moved into his new home about three weeks ago.
The end of COVID-19 pandemic programs, combined with rising prices, make it harder for people like Carter to afford basic life necessities. Of the 100 largest cities in the USA, Madison has the fastest rising rent (14.1% in the past year and 30.4% since March 2020**). To survive, more and more people turn to programs like our food pantry for help.
In Dane County, a quarter of renters spend more than 50% of their income on housing. Those on the margins, those we serve, spend even more. A new book, Poverty, by America, by Matthew Desmond, describes public policy decisions that cause entrenched poverty in our country. Poverty in America is higher and deeper than any other developed country in the world. While I don’t agree with all that Desmond proposes, surely, we can do better.
You are already doing better for those in need in our community. Your generosity gives food, clothing, beds, furniture, household goods and medicine to neighbors like Carter and his kids. You are helping thousands of neighbors with your faithful support. In addition to these material items, you give Carter hope.
Heartbroken, I pray for Carter. In my frustration, I advocate on his behalf. In my gratitude, I say, thank you, for helping our neighbors in need.
CEO & Executive Director
* Name changed to protect privacy