By LaShea DeSelle
An increase in food and housing prices have impacted United States residents differently across the nation, due to economic inequality and inflation disparities. Changes in inflation will impact rural and low-income households most from the rise in food and housing because of their location and income level although the newly released $1.7 trillion Senate Committee Bill intends on appropriating households based on their eligibility. FY 2023 OAB has made the effort to allocate funds that affect low-income American individuals that need assistance in areas such as food, housing, energy and college expenses.
Annual inflation has risen to 9.1% the highest rate in the last 40 years, while the largest increase in the last 12 months have been airline fares, transportation services, shelter and new vehicles and food. The United States Department of Agriculture projects an increase in food away from home (restaurants, food trucks and drive-thru) to raise by 5% in 2023 and a 4% rise in food at home. According to CPI data generated by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), large price hikes in food include eggs (up 31.5%), poultry (up 14-15%), fats and oils (up 18-19%), cereals and baked goods (up 13.5%), and fresh fruits and vegetables (up 7-8%). Home heating oil costs have increased by 15 percent, electricity at nearly 14 percent and a rise in natural gas costs by 15% over the last year. Across the globe, more than 820 million people go to bed hungry every night and data from the Census Bureau show that over 25 million adults in America sometimes do not have enough to eat.
Families are asking the question of why an increase? Well issues with logistics, high transportation costs and freight rates, labor, soaring production costs and weather all contribute to the price surge. Another contributor to the surge in price of eggs is an ongoing outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that continues to reduce the U.S. egg layer flock. In the first two weeks of December, the USDA reported 4.8 million birds were destroyed due to HPAI prevention regulations. “With the price of the groceries up more than 10 percent, families across the country are struggling to make ends meet”, said Chairman Patrick Leahy, Committee on Appropriations, “And food banks are squeezed as they try to provide for their communities”. Chairman Leahy worked directly with democratic representatives to prioritize the needs of the majority and provide relief to American families from the rising costs of living as a result of inflation.
The FY 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill will allocate $70 Billion in funds nationally that directly impact the underlying issues of inflation and who it impacts most by addressing food insecurity, supporting food and housing programs, and an increase in public education and higher learning.
An investment of $13.4 billion has increased the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) national funds to $154 billion providing nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy foods. Within the funding for Child Nutrition Programs included $30 million for school equipment grants that will ensure schools can continue to serve healthy meals as well as $40 million for the Summer Electronic Benefit Program (SEBTC) providing families whose children are eligible for free and reduced price school meals with grocery benefits on a debit type EBT card during the summer months. Permanent summer EBT will help close the summer hunger gap for more than 29 million families across the United States. More than one-fifth of all college students are student parents, according to estimates by the Nation Center for Education Statistics, that’s nearly 4 million college students with children that are impacted just as their parents by inflation. Cameron University offers student housing but affordable family housing is not an option for student parents at the moment. Nationwide funding for housing is still an option for Oklahoma residents and any inquiries about housing options may be directed to The Student Enrichment Center (SEC): firstname.lastname@example.org . The SEC provides access to personalized support and assistance to promote academic success to all CU students.
A whopping $1.2 billion was invested for the HOME Investment Partnership Program, which will lead to the construction of nearly 10,000 new rental and homebuyer units that directly affect the Oklahoma Housing and Finance Agency (OHFA) as well as provides grants to the Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a federal agency responsible for national programs that address America’s housing needs. The bill also included critical resources to expand opportunities for affordable housing and provide assistance to nationwide housing programs.
Nearly $130 million is for new incremental Section 8 Housing Vouchers to support over 11,700 additional families and individuals at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, aging out of foster care and veterans at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
Regarding education, FY 2023 OAB increased the maximum Pell Grant by $500 to $7,395 for the 2023-2024 school year, helping approximately 7 million students who pursue a postsecondary education and furthering their career. An increase of 5% has been funded to TRIO, which helps over 800,000 low-income, first-generation students get into college. Cameron University’s Title IV program Student Support Services (SSS) is a part of TRIO whose mission is to offer appropriate academic support services to Cameron University students who have an academic need, are first generation college students or students with disabilities. Funding invested into TRIO is allocated to resources that enrich the college experience for students who are accepted into the program. All inquiries about qualifications to join Student Support Services can be emailed to StudentSupportServices@cameron.edu, or stop by the SSS office located in room 431, North Shepler building to pick up an application.