By Amber Wallin, Santa Fe New Mexican April 18, 2022 After more than two years of a pandemic and its related recession, it’s hard to remember life in 2019, let alone what great things were [...]
“We know there are families having trouble buying food, having trouble making the next rental payment. If the state can give more money to those people making a lower income, that would be great,” she said.
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.
“We think this policy is really crucial right now because we know that so many of our families with kids are still struggling,” said Amber Wallin, the executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a nonprofit group that supports the proposed tax credit.
Amber Wallin of New Mexico Voices for Children added during a press call that Hispanic New Mexican parents were more than twice as likely as white parents in the state to have lost wages since the pandemic began, and more than three times as likely to be unsure about whether or not they can make their next housing payment.
Undocumented immigrants paid almost $68 million in state and local taxes, according to a 2020 report from New Mexico Voices for Children. Still, 60,000 undocumented immigrants are often excluded from benefits provided during emergencies, including unemployment insurance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP.
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.
Amber Wallin, executive director of NMVC, said New Mexico legislators should continue to enact legislation that will positively impact families and children, particularly families of color. “During this Legislative session we’re continuing to focus on public policy to provide robust safety net support, especially in direct economic assistance for families who need it the most, especially for low-income front line workers, refugee and immigrant families unable to access key forms of relief,” she said.