With the moratorium ending on evictions for tenants with unpaid rent, this could lead to a crisis of unhoused families in New Mexico, Shiv said. “Evictions are really harmful and it’s incredibly destabilizing for families and children,” she said.
As proud New Mexicans, we know our state has the best scenery and natural beauty in the nation. While we want to keep it that way, that’s hard to when our landscape is dotted with old, pollution-spewing orphaned oil wells. Here's how to fix this problem.
New Mexico’s leaders have taken many actions to protect and support children and families through this uncertainty, including hunger relief funding, emergency economic relief for those left out of federal stimulus payments, a new paid-sick-leave policy, and an increase and expansion of the Working Families Tax Credit, which will put money in the hands of families who will spend it quickly and locally to provide for their children’s basic needs. These actions prevented us from losing all the progress we’ve been working for to improve well-being for all of our children.
While the number of households receiving SNAP benefits provides one view of the state’s need to address hunger, Emily Wildau, a research and policy analyst with Voices for Children, says it’s important to “look at poverty, unemployment, homeownership, and…a cost of food index,” to understand how hunger affects youths in the state. These factors, Wildau says, outline the parameters of those experiencing “food insecurity.”
Amber Wallin, deputy director, said that Chaves County’s outcomes are often tied closely to the fortunes of the oil and gas industry. “Those are things like poverty rates, child abuse rates that are linked to that,” said Wallin. “We know when parents have steady wages and good steady income that is a good predictor of how children are doing.” She added that the pandemic had a dramatically different effect on people depending on their social circumstances.
In this legislative session, New Mexico Voices for Children will be asking lawmakers to put families with children first in policymaking. High on the list of policies that will help ensure a just recovery and equitable opportunities for all families are enacting a state-level CTC, with families facing the biggest economic challenges seeing the biggest benefits.
“If lawmakers continue putting kids and families first, we expect to see even more improvements, Wallin said. “However, in order to ensure an equitable recovery from the pandemic and recession, these policies must consider the unique barriers faced by our children, families, and communities of color.”
While families in New Mexico face rising gasoline prices at the pump, oil and natural gas companies are getting the deal of a century. Not only are they cashing in on higher prices, but they pay pennies on the dollar to lease our public lands for development and evade having to pay New Mexicans what we’re rightfully owed in royalties. All of this undercuts funding for our schools, and our children deserve better.
“Equality of opportunity is not something that just happens,” said the organization’s deputy director, Amber Wallin. “Moving forward, we have to pass policy that supports families, prioritizes children and … improves opportunities for women and communities of color in our state.”
New Mexico has fewer workers protected by paid sick leave than any other, with about 50% of workers here working without it, according to New Mexico Voices for Children.