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Voice For the Poor Updates

Voice For the Poor Updates 1080 1080 Jill Pioter

Fellow Vincentians,

As the new Chair of the Voice for the Poor Committee, I wanted to update you on our work. First, the new National Council Board made a small name change and we are now the Voice FOR the Poor Committee. While our committee’s name changed slightly, our mission and focus remain the same.

The National Voice for The Poor Committee is charged with advocating on behalf of people in poverty, and with education and information-sharing to strengthen and grow Council and Conference involvement with advocating for policy solutions to local, state, and national leaders and legislators.

During the Midyear Meeting, the National Council Members approved the updated Human Trafficking position paper. One of our committee’s goals is to update the National Council’s position papers, and we would like to update two or three papers each year. We will seek input of other national committees, including Formation, not only to work collaboratively, but also, to make sure that Catholic Social Teaching is incorporated into all our position papers. You can find the position papers on our website.

Also at the Midyear Meeting, we introduced the updated Voice for the Poor Manual, a digital document that can be found and downloaded or printed from the National Council website. I also presented a session on how to start a Voice For the Poor committee and recorded a short video that introduces the Voice For the Poor that will be available for upcoming SVdP Regional Meetings.

Please stay tuned for many exciting Voice For the Poor updates.  You can find more information at https://members.ssvpusa.org/voice-of-the-poor/ or email us at vop@svdpusa.org.

In Christ,
Bobby Kinkela
Voice For the Poor Chair

P.S.  Don’t forget to make advocacy part of your regular Conference and Council meetings. Make it an agenda topic. I encourage you to invite your fellow Vincentians, parishioners, and friends to become advocates for their neighbors in need. Why? Because our neighbors in need deserve it! Sign up at https://ssvpusa.org/take-action. Thank you!


Leveraging National Council Resources for State Advocacy

Leveraging National Council Resources for State Advocacy 903 903 Jill Pioter

As former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil famously stated, “All politics is local.” This year, SVdP Councils in Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan have utilized the National Council’s E-advocacy system Voter Voice to mobilize state advocates on homelessness, taxation, housing, and payday loans.

District Councils can make a big impact in their state legislature by mobilizing Vincentians to email their state legislators. We have seen success where local Councils are part of larger state coalitions that are vocal about a specific issue. Councils that work closely with their state Catholic Conferences on grassroots issues also see success.

In the four campaigns mentioned above, which last about 2 – 3 weeks each, have sent over 200 messages to state legislators and have resulted in 115 new advocates for St. Vincent de Paul. This was Georgia and Kentucky’s first foray into mobilizing advocates using Voter Voice, and their campaigns brought in the bulk of those 115 new advocates.

How do you get started?

State Diocesan/Archdiocesan presidents, District Council Presidents, Executive Director(s) are empowered to work on state legislative issues. When they agree to bring forward a potential grassroots campaign, they need to sign off on the campaign. They should notify their regional representative and Chair of the Voice for the Poor Committee and their Regional Vice President. Then they will work with Steve Uram, National Director of Poverty Programs, to draft the alert and the message to advocates and to the state legislators. You can find the process explained in our State and Advocacy Toolkit.

As Exodus 22:20-26 reminds us, we shall be judged if we oppress the poor or vulnerable — God will hear their cry. Let us build up the Kingdom of God with justice by advocating for our neighbors in need.

Lenten Reflection As We Explore the Plight of Our Neighbors Who Are Unhoused

Lenten Reflection As We Explore the Plight of Our Neighbors Who Are Unhoused 900 900 Jill Pioter

Our faith teaches that safe and adequate shelter is a human right and foundational to honoring the human dignity we all have as ‘imago dei’; the Catholic bishops of the United States made this point as plainly as they could in titling their seminal letter on the issue, The Right to a Decent Home.

The amount of people living without safe housing in America is a scandal. According to the most recent data, in 2020 over 580,000 people in America were unhoused. This marked the third straight year of increases, and does not account for the pandemic (homelessness data is based on a set point in time count that occurs in January).

The Voice of the Poor Committee and the Formation Committee will lead a Lenten Reflection Series exploring the human, moral, and social effects of homelessness in America. The series will also lift up some of the inspiring work being done by Vincentians throughout the country. A tremendous amount of work is being done by Vincentians in collaboration with other organizations to serve our brothers and sisters struggling to find safe and secure shelter:

The long-term effects of the pandemic on housing and homelessness are yet to be understood. What is certain, however, is that Vincentians will be ready to serve. Join us as we pray, learn, grow, support, and inspire each other to continue this ministry.

SVdP Sends Infrastructure and Budget Letter to Congress

SVdP Sends Infrastructure and Budget Letter to Congress 1200 628 Jill Pioter

On behalf of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and those we serve, SVdP National President Ralph Middlecamp recently sent a letter to Congress, urging Senators and Representatives to prioritize programs and policies that ensure poor and vulnerable families have access to stable housing, health care, and access to economic opportunity.

Click here to read the full letter, or visit our Voice of the Poor page to learn more.

To learn more about how you can contact your own elected officials about important issues like this, please sign up for our Voter Voice program.

Eviction Moratorium and Rent Assistance Update

Eviction Moratorium and Rent Assistance Update 1200 628 Jill Pioter

The Supreme Court has struck down the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eviction moratorium. Millions of renter households who have struggled to pay rent as a result of the pandemic now face homelessness.

For neighbors in need at risk of eviction, help is available. Find rental assistance available in your community here. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has also created a comprehensive resource for finding housing assistance.

Our updated COVID Response Guide has more information on housing-related assistance and a host of additional resources related to hunger, health care, and more. Download it now on our COVID-19 Response page.

PPP Loan Scam Alert

PPP Loan Scam Alert 1200 628 Jill Pioter

We recently received the following voice mail on a personal cell phone:

“Hi this is Emma XXXX and I’m following up regarding your eligibility for forgiveness and it looks like your application is incomplete and needs to be submitted before the end of the deadline. It is urgent that you return the call to complete your application and to avoid payment or punishment. If you could please call our dedicated eligibility counseling at 1-800-XXX-XXXX to complete your application and finalize your involvement at soon as possible. Again the number is 1-800-XXX-XXXX, thank you and I hope you have a nice day.”

This call has all of the telltale signs of fraud: it was unsolicited, I did not provide my personal cell when National Council applied for their PPP Loan and the caller does not provide the name of the organization.

We all know we should never provide social security numbers, banking/credit card information, or upfront payments, but fraudsters can be tricky and work to make you comfortable enough to provide this information or find a way into your computer and infect it with malware.

Fraudulent calls and emails may appear legitimate at first glance. Emails often use the correct logos for an organization and even direct you to an official-looking website. Be skeptical before you respond or click on a link in an email. Are you expecting the call or email? If the information is pertinent to your current work, move your mouse pointer over the email to reveal the actual full address of the sender and determine if it looks correct. An email regarding a business or government program does not normally come from a personal account or a foreign country. Also, look for misspellings or incorrect grammar in the email. If it looks off, it is most likely a scam. If you are afraid that you may still be missing important information, google the website of the actual organization and using the contact information found on their website call or email them to verify the authenticity. Do not forward the email to others for their opinion, it may contain a virus and forwarding can further spread to others. If it still seems fishy, delete without clicking or responding.

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