“Dear Governor Northam:
The League of Women Voters of Virginia (LWV-VA) appreciates your
leadership of the Commonwealth during this state of emergency. Your postponement of the primary and support for consolidation of upcoming elections will help safeguard voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Advance planning will be essential to public health and public trust in democratic elections during this time.” [Continue Reading Here]
Here is the link to the April Virginia Voter.
Please remember that we have a special page where you can find the current and previous Virginia Voters at “Newsletters (VV, VE) in the menu bar or https://lwv-va.org/publications/va-voter-and-voter-express/
“Hot off the presses” is your copy of the Virginia Voter.
In this issue you will find:
- Secret Agents of Change
- Your Help Needed in the Push for Redistricting
- Virginia General Assembly: February 2020; Pre-Crossover, Crossover and Post-Crossover
- League Day Recap
- Save the Date for LWV-VA Council!
- What Sparks Political Activity?
- March 3 President Primary FAQ
- Report on Human Rights Legislation in this Year’s General Assembly Session
- Join the Celebration!
- Deaf History Month March 13th – April 15th.
- Some Special Photos from This Legislative Session
On 1/15/2020, Virginia Became the 38th State to Pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
From our Membership Director
Alice Tousignant, LWV-VA Housing Study Chair
People who wait on you at restaurants and care for seniors and people with disabilities earn about $9.50 per hour, while those who clean stores and offices pull in $11.50 and those who assist teachers make $12.50 an hour. All of these workers are considered very low income using the statewide income limits for Virginia for a one-person household– $31,000. What can they afford for rent? Housing is considered affordable if you don’t spend more than 30% of your income on it.
Every year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) releases its Out of Reach (OOR) report, which documents the gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing across the US. In order to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment in Virginia, you would need to work 109 hours per week at the State’s minimum wage of $7.25. The average US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a one-bedroom apartment in Virginia is $1,025 per month. In order to afford this rent, you must earn $19.70 an hour or $40,981 a year. None of the workers mentioned above could afford the average one-bedroom apartment in Virginia. These numbers differ substantially depending on where you live in Virginia: Arlington – $1,454, Richmond City – $932, Blacksburg – $759, and Giles County – $529 for a one-bedroom apartment. To obtain data specifically for your area, click here, scroll to Jurisdictions, and plug in your city or county.
If you pay more than 30% of your income on housing, you are considered cost-burdened. The lower your income, the higher the cost burden, making it difficult for persons earning low wages or those on fixed incomes to pay for basic necessities such as food, medicine, and transportation. While the very low-income earners mentioned above would pay more than 30% of their income on rent, 69% of extremely low-income households ($18, 650 annually for a one-person household) pay more than 50% of their income for housing according to the NLIHC.
Extremely low-income people have the most difficult time finding available and affordable housing in Virginia. NLIHC also publishes a GAP report showing the shortage of affordable homes in the US. This report shows that there are only 36 available and affordable rental units for every 100 extremely low-income households in Virginia.
While an increase in the minimum wage would certainly help remedy some of this housing problem, it is not the only answer, especially for low wage earners and for those on fixed incomes such as Supplemental Security Income, which is currently $771 monthly.
What are the most effective solutions to this housing shortage? One answer is the State-funded Virginia Housing Trust Fund (VHTF) which provides low-interest loans to preserve and build housing as well as homeless reduction grants. Since its inception in 2014, the VHTF has provided over $26 million to create/preserve over 3,000 units of affordable housing with approximately 67% of these rental units for very low-income households.
In his budget, Governor Northam has proposed a large increase for the VHTF with $84 million over the next three years. The General Assembly will take up this recommendation when they convene in January for their 2020 session. These funds would go a long way to creating housing for Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens. Since the LWV-VA does not yet have a position on affordable housing, the League cannot take a formal position on supporting this budget item. (The Affordable Housing Study Committee is working on this issue which we hope will culminate in a State housing position at the 2021 League Convention.) In the meantime, if you feel this issue is important, you are encouraged to personally advocate with your legislators in the General Assembly. For more information on the Affordable Housing Study, please contact Alice Tousignant.
Congratulations South Hampton Roads LWV First VP, Leelynn Brady for being selected by Governor Northam to serve on the Statewide Independent Living Council!
Time is quickly running out for registering for the 2019 LWV-VA Leadership Workshops and there will be a lot of great presentations and networking going on! Last day to Register is Sept. 6th. Do not miss this chance to empower and energize yourself as we move into time for Elections and the Legislative Session. Read more and register for Workshops at https://lwv-va.org/2019-lwv-va-workshops/
In This Issue of the Virginia Voter:
This is what Democracy Looks Like Deb Wake, President, LWV-VA
LWV VA Fall Workshop – Get Ready for Action Joan Porte, 1st Vice President, LWV-VA
2019 Women’s Equality Day Events Julia Tanner, Action Coordinator, LWV-VA
New VOTE411.org Logo and Website Carol Lindstrom, Webmaster, LWV-VA
New Voter Service Documents Available On LWV-VA Website! Kathy Matusiak, LWVAR
LWV-VA President Deb Wake Testifies at VSCC Deb Wake, President. LWV-VA
Testimony to VSCC 8/20/19, Morgan Johns , LWVRMA
VSCC Testimony: Carol Noggle, Carol Noggle, LWVPWA
LWV was well represented at the Democracy Forum, Mary Ann Moxon, LWVWA
Visibility Matters, Carolyn Caywood, Facebook, LWV-VA
Thoughts on Representative Democracy . . . and Women, Kit Murph McNally, LWVCVA
National Popular Vote Interstate Compact: The Electoral
College & the Compact, Pamela Berg, LWVAR
LWVUS Volunteer Lobby Corps – Report for August
2019, Jackie Coolidge, Chair, Volunteer Lobby Corps LWVUS
Morgan Johns’ testimony before the Virginia State Crime Commission hearings on proposed Gun Safety Legislation. Here is her statement:
My name is Morgan Johns and I appreciate the opportunity to speak today.
Young people are always looking down at their phones, aren’t they? Scrolling through selfies, sunsets – shooting, shooting, #Gilroystrong, #Daytonstrong, #ElPasostrong, 34 dead, 64 wounded in one week – we are algorithmically predisposed to look down because we are terrified to look up.
I once missed days of school because two students were planning to open fire during an evacuation they’d instigate. They’re still in jail. Earlier this year, I was standing across the wall from shots fired in student housing. A couple of weeks ago, I was threatened to be “shot in the face” on the street.
By keeping military-grade weapons easily accessible, you are drafting people like me onto the front lines. It should go without saying that more gun usage means more potential for gun violence. That is kindergarten logic – and if you think that comparison is inappropriate, remember that they are currently being told to lay still and act dead in active shooter drills. That is how you are raising the next generation.
In response to the opposition –
If you claim self-defense as a motive, I would ask – from whom are you actually defending yourself? Chances are, it is an irrational, hate-based fear. Of course your individual life is important, but to protect it against a pretense at the expense of hundreds dying weekly is shameful.
Speaker Cox’s original recommendation for Governor Northam to respond to Virginia Beach through our same protocols as Parkland and, more notably, Virginia Tech, is incredibly ignorant to the exponential frequency and normalization since them. Not to mention that those supposed protocols failed to prevent the 11,000 deaths occurring as a result.
Today, the opposition itself has stated that universal background checks, magazine limits, and mental illness checks would not have prevented any mass shootings from VT forward – thus, inherently arguing that the only prevention could have been a lack of gun access. As someone said, sober drivers are not to blame for drunk driving accidents – but alcohol is.
I have witnessed many such as this, where leaders did just that – hearing – not necessarily listening. Remember that the line separating the two is only ever as wide as the thread used to stitch up a bullet wound.