The Common Good
April 2004

Hanging the Poor Out to Dry

by Rose Marie Berger, Brian Bolton | April 2004

The California state capitol building in Sacramento was transformed one morning in January into a tenement house strung with laundry lines.

The California state capitol building in Sacramento was transformed one morning in January into a tenement house strung with laundry lines. Parents from Low-Income Families' Empowerment Through Education, a grassroots organization of low-income parents, hung more than 150 shirts from poor children and families throughout the state, each with a message about how Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposed budget cuts target poor families and children. The proposed welfare cuts, according to Vivian Hain, "will take the shirts off our backs and the diapers off our babies."

More than 150 parents and children from CalWORKs - California's welfare to work program - and their supporters traveled from 15 counties to Sacramento to send the governor their message. Some wrote on tiny "onesie" baby shirts and others on giant T-shirts. "The governor's cuts will slash my children's benefits, which are already at 53 percent of the poverty line," said Rya Frontera, a CalWORKs student in Huntington Beach, "leaving me to support a family of three on less than $500 a month. Gov. Schwarzenegger, don't balance the budget on the backs of my children!"

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