Undoing Welfare Reform

Source: The American Prospect
by Kalena Thomhave

“Cheri Honkala has been a welfare rights activist since the 1980s. It’s been decades of frustratingly slow work, ensuring that poor mothers like herself could access the benefits they needed to survive. These days, the bulk of her time is spent occupying empty houses for people with no alternative shelter. Combined with the pandemic, there is a housing crisis in Philadelphia, where Honkala lives. The life of a welfare rights activist has been one of constant disappointment. In the 1960s, welfare agencies surveilled single-mother recipients to ensure men didn’t live in their homes; some states regularly found ways to exclude Black women from benefits. As the years went on, and welfare became increasingly racialized as Black women gained access to benefits, groups like Honkala’s worked to resist the linking of welfare to low-wage work.” (05/24/21)