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COVID relief helps bridge gap between nation’s haves and have-nots | READER COMMENTARY

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hold the signed American Rescue Plan Act after the House Chamber voted on the final revised legislation of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, at the U.S. Capitol on March 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Olivier Douliery/Getty Images).
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hold the signed American Rescue Plan Act after the House Chamber voted on the final revised legislation of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, at the U.S. Capitol on March 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Olivier Douliery/Getty Images). (OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Back in December, a box of food shelf donations I dropped off for a struggling neighbor was stolen. Now, I am relieved that Congress has passed a new COVID relief bill that will provide relief to renters, increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers and, astoundingly, cut child poverty by 45% by expanding the child tax credit. Maybe folks will no longer be so desperate and can concentrate on raising healthy families and engaging in productive activities (”Stimulus check updates: Biden to sign COVID-19 relief bill Thursday ahead of primetime speech,” March 11).

Thank you, Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen. Thank you, Rep. Kweisi Mfume. It’s now time for Congress to build on these successes by fixing vast inequities in housing and lifting more children out of poverty.

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First, make housing choice vouchers universal to all who qualify. Currently, only one in four eligible renters get federal housing assistance. Next, protect workers and families by making the new EITC and child tax credit provisions permanent. Columbia University researchers estimate these combined changes could reduce child poverty in America by almost two-thirds.

We have the chance to make a generational leap in reducing poverty in America. I urge Senators Van Hollen and Cardin, and Congressman Mfume to take bold action to permanently and dramatically reduce child poverty and housing instability in recovery legislation this year.

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Jan Kleinman, Baltimore

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