Put South Florida’s Families Before Politics

By Natalie Carlier, Florida Regional Coordinator, NCLR

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It’s been over five months since sequestration—the automatic budget cuts to federal programs which began in March—went into full effect, causing devastation thoughout Florida.  On Tuesday, August 13, NCLR and Centro Campesino Farmworker Center Inc.—an NCLR Affiliate in Florida City dedicated to improving the quality of life and self-sufficiency of migrant and seasonal farmworkers, their children, and other low-income families—met with Senator Bill Nelson’s Regional Director, Pedro Villa, to shed light on the impact that federal budget cuts have had on Florida’s South Dade community.

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During the legislative visit, Centro Campesino’s Executive Director, Diane Cantor, and fellow staff members discussed how the federal budget cuts have impacted the housing and education programs they offer Florida City residents, a largely Latino population.  As a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-certified housing counseling agency, Centro Campesino helps community members become mortgage-ready by offering guidance for first-time homebuyers and counsels homeowners through foreclosure.  Additionally, Centro Campesino houses a 21st Century Community Learning Center led by AmeriCorps members which provides day care and education to children in the area.  Hardworking individuals and families in Florida are already struggling in this economy to avoid foreclosure, manage their household budgets, and raise their children.  The additional stress that these cuts have placed on our families and their children is unnecessary, unwarranted, and unwelcome. 

Pedro explained that the senator understands the impact sequestration is having on Florida groups like Centro Campesino and the communities they serve.  He explained that a number of local groups like AmeriCorps and other health care centers have shared similar stories about how the sequester has negatively affected them.  He encouraged Centro Campesino and NCLR to continue to share more stories with Senator Nelson’s office.

We concluded our meeting by requesting that the senator author a “dear colleague” letter asking Congress to put families before politics when making budget decisions this September.  It’s clear that after this visit there is a need to keep working to ensure that decision-makers like Senator Nelson reflect our values by focusing on creating jobs and investing in our shared future.

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