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Striving for Real Change

“Hey! Hey! Golden State! Take a look at your poverty rate!”

On May 8th, our executive director, Krista Lucchesi, traveled with a group of our senior volunteers to Sacramento, California, the state capitol. They went to advocate for an increase in SSI, which stands for “Supplemental Security Income.” According to the Social Security Administration, SSI is a “federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes).”

“SSI is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; and it provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.”

The State of California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) considers $2,033.33 per month or $24,400 a year an “extremely low income” in Alameda County. The average rent for a studio apartment in Alameda County is $1,795 per month. Currently, in California, you can receive only $910.72 each month or $10,928.64 a year as an aged person on SSI. For many seniors, the SSI amount is the only amount they receive to pay for rent, food, clothing, medical costs, and transportation. Seniors on SSI simply cannot afford these basic necessities in a place as expensive as Alameda County.

We, Mercy Brown Bag Program, focus most of our energy on responding to the immediate problem of food insecurity by providing fresh groceries for the seniors in our county. However, we also invest our time into addressing the root issues in our society that can be solved by our policy makers. The current SSI allowance is not enough for seniors to “meet basic needs” in Alameda County. So, we strive to bring real change to our county and to California as a whole by asking for an increase in SSI. By showing up at our Capitol and sharing our perspectives and stories, we hope to change not only hearts and minds, but legislation as well.

“Policy has the power to change social realities and struggles,” said one of our representatives.

“We will be coming back,” said another. “This is a priority for the people.”