Opinion | Keep the Help for Children and Families

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To the Editor:

As a historian of social policy, I appreciated David Brooks and Paul Krugman underlining in columns on March 12 the shift that the American Rescue Plan represents in expanding the role of the federal government. They noted its benefits to reduce child poverty, especially the refundable tax credits of $3,600 per child under 6, somewhat less for older children.

But these payments are temporary and may disappear after the pandemic. Less noticed are provisions in the law that will, if extended, address the lack of affordable child care: almost $15 billion to subsidize fees for low-income families and nearly $24 billion to help providers remain open after losing revenue.

Even before this crisis, the cost of child care imposed a major burden on low-income families, taking up an average of 30 percent of household incomes. If Congress and the president truly want to lower child poverty, they must retain and enhance the refundable child credit and continue supporting child care so that parents can remain employed.

Sonya Michel
Silver Spring, Md.
The writer is the author of “Children’s Interests, Mothers’ Rights: The Shaping of America’s Child Care Policy.”

Black Housing Developers

To the Editor:

Re “Closing a Money Gap for Developers of Color” (Square Feet, Business, March 17):

Access to capital is indeed the biggest hurdle facing housing developers of color. But the fuller solution to this problem — which is rooted in systemic racism — requires doing more than earmarking a finite amount of dollars. The real estate industry must take a hard look at the underwriting standards and criteria that prevent developers with less experience or lighter balance sheets from qualifying for capital and make intentional changes that enable more developers of color to participate.

Many bankers and investors agree with this in theory, but believe that in practice it leads to more risk. It doesn’t have to be this way.

We can re-examine the loss history and performance of our investments to inform a refresh of underwriting standards that are more commensurate with reality instead of outdated, dusty views. We can broaden our view of the experience we’ve traditionally required for those who are “new” to development but who have experience in construction and related fields. And we can build supports into the system by pairing developers with advisory services to fill perceived gaps.

If the problems are systemic, the solutions must be, too. That starts with all of us, including my community development financial institution and our $3.5 billion Equitable Path Forward initiative, who have the power and the capital to make a difference and move the market.

Priscilla Almodovar
New York
The writer is chief executive of Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit.

What to Do With the Border Wall

To the Editor:

Re “Decision Looms on the Fate of Trump’s Piecemeal Border Wall” (news article, March 17):

What to do with the wall? Remove any useful materials and put up signs at each of the recently built wall segments that commemorate the debacle, saying, for example:

“A national monument to incompetence, lies, waste and cruelty. But no one ever tried to cross here. They went around the wall.”

Peter K. Bohacek
New York

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