House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi hosted a hearing with the Poor People's Campaign on September 26, 2018. Rev. Michael Crumpler represented the UUA at this event, and offered his testimony along with Darin Brooks, a fast food worker involved with the Poor People's Campaign. Below is a transcript of Michael's and Darin's testimony.
I’m Rev. Michael Crumpler born and raised in North Carolina, but now living in Harlem. I am the LGBTQ and Intercultural Programs Manager with the Unitarian Universalists Association. We have 250,000 members in 1,000 congregations across the US where our first principle privileges the inherent worth and dignity of every person, namely those who identity as LGBTQ.
According to the Center for American Progress,
- 20.9% of LGBTQ people receive health care from Medicaid, while only 12.9 percent of non-LGBTQ do
- 41% of LGBTQ people with disabilities report receiving SNAP benefits, vs 16% of LGBTQ people without disabilities.
- 26% of LGBTQ women receive SNAP benefits, while 9.7% of non-LGBTQ women do.
- Transgender / non-Binary families FIVE TIMES more likely to receive public housing assistance than cisgender people and their families.
Now I want to introduce Darrin Brooks from Durham, NC who is directly impacted by these dire realities. Darrin is a fast food worker who loves to sing.
Hello, my name is Darin Brooks. I’m a 26-year old fast food worker from Durham, North Carolina. Despite working, I do not make enough to afford even a one-bedroom apartment. I am tired of not making enough to support myself. Being homeless and continuing to work is very stressful. I am a part of the LGBT community, and being a part of the LGBT community, I experience discrimination within every aspect of my life.
I was 17 when I got put out with nowhere to go. I went to the government for help and by me being gay and not of age they said they could not help me. But despite all of that, I was still attending church and I found a member of the church to help me better my life.
I am unable to find stable housing, I can’t get government assistance, within my own community I face judgment due to my LGBT status. People judge me before they even get to know me, and I am tired of it. The things I go through are unbelievable, being an openly gay black male in my community in this time is very crazy. I believe everyone should be treated fairly. It’ NOT fair to not be able to receive health care and be sick or be unable to find housing so that I can be sheltered, have a space of my own to go home to after a long day. It does not make any sense that we have to go through these things. We all know life happens to everyone, but at some point in time, we should be able to get some sort of help without the backlash of sexuality being a factor in the requirements or if you don’t get enough hours at work you can’t get food stamps or Medicaid.
This is not fair to anyone. We don’t decide our work hours and we don’t decide how much we get paid. We don’t decide if the government wants to help us. It seems like we have not options and that is NOT RIGHT. What if it was your family? Do you think they would be able to survice? So, I challenge all of you all to live off of $7.25 to $8.25 per hour, only working a maximum of 40 hours per week, then go find a place to stay and pay your bills and see if you can eat and survive.