Sequestration On the Ground: Open Letter to Leadership

Dear Northeastern North Carolina Leadership,

It appears we are in for another economic blow to the poor. The sequestration is paused to show no one mercy. Out front receiving the brute force of its impact are communities across the nation like northeastern North Carolina.

As you know, on March 1, 2013, we face an across the board cut to some of our most basic and critical staples of life. With the recent passage of  the unemployment legislation in Raleigh, northeastern North Carolina already sits in a predicament of predicaments. The region houses some of the poorest communities in the state. Labels such as persistent poverty is not uncommon. With such a designation, there are a number of implications.  It suggests our region is fairing poorly on all scales of the economies to include growth, potential and possibility. As you know, the deeper into poverty you are, the more difficult it is to tunnel through to self-sufficiency.   A feat like this requires more than a knee-jerk reaction but an intentional commitment to employ capital called patience, strategy, resources, and old-fashioned  faith. An unshakeable belief that its time to work until amazing things happen.

I know you are facing a daunting task with the passage of each piece of legislation from Raleigh to Washington, DC that harms fragile communities and families you represent. Yet, I am hopeful you are convening conversations across the region with all levels of the community. It is most urgent that we prepare as best we can, to intervene in the lives of desperation. The poor we know, more than likely, do not have a back-up plan. Absorbing the impacts at both the state and national level will require a commitment from us that we will do everything we can.  Now is not the time to politicize things. Our constituency on behalf of the poor must remain united; all hands are needed on deck for this one.

We have broached a new era of political might and the poor have not been invited in this time. They have been left out to fend on their own. If politics are chosen over human needs, we have all failed.

Let’s identify and map critical resources locally, such as housing and day care or supportive care for working parents who depend on Head Start and other child development programs at risk. We must prepare for small businesses losing essential federal contracts; their bread and butter. We must prepare for federal and locally employed families who will enter a newly overhauled unemployment system in a North Carolina system that restricts unemployment benefits and denies access to federal unemployment benefits. We must prepare for homelessness, joblessness and more hopelessness. But, I believe we can do it! We can take our scarce resources and leverage them across communities to help needy families hold on like never before.

Common sense legislation is the slogan of the day. All of us understand we must bring down the deficit. We understand fraud and abuse. We must deal with both. However, there is a way it must be done weighing its impact across a broad spectrum of communities and in particular, communities of the most vulnerable, then determine strategy.

The power of sequestration is mind bottling. At the community-based  level, we need a seamless no wrong door like never before. Control what we can. Leverage every resource we have access to and then strategically deploy. We must have a catch net.

As you champion the communities you serve, remind them that it is the generosity of everyday people considering the needs of their neighbors, that will help buy you time as you work to move good legislation on their behalf.

Thank you for all you are doing. Your efforts mean so much. We stand with you.

If I can be of assistance, please let me know.

Patricia