As a mother of three living in East St. Louis, I know the personal pain of struggling just to get by.
I work hard and I take pride in my work. But when the pandemic hit, my hours were reduced and the money I use to support my family and pay my bills became much more restricted. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do.
At the bottom, we learned that an increase in the federal earned income tax credit and the child tax credit would help us turn the situation around.
Of course, the few hundred dollars we received from the credit couldn’t stop all our problems. But when you don’t have money to save month-to-month and you don’t know when or if you’ll be able to pay the rent or meet your other needs, every little bit counts. It’s a relief to know that even though you’re still struggling, you don’t have to struggle as much.
The additional help from Expanded Credit has also given our community some hope. For once, East St. Louis could use a program to give tax money back to people and be something that helps everyone – no one is left behind, no one is left behind.
Across Illinois there are thousands of stories like mine.
Maria, a single mother from suburban Chicago, has worked hard to put everything she has into raising her four daughters. She quit her job at the start of the pandemic to stay home, then fell ill with COVID-19 and sought help everywhere. She drives other struggling families to the local food bank every week and dreams of what she could do with enough money to pay the bills.
Johnetta is a former neighborhood safety inspector from Austin, Chicago. She has applied for every housing assistance program available to help pay her rent, but can’t seem to find relief for herself and her 4-year-old daughter who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. She has worked with a great organization, Revolution Workshop, to find help, but the pressure of looking after her child alone 24/7 is high. More help is needed soon.
We’re all excited to have more help with an expanded earned income credit and a new child tax credit. A few hundred dollars each year might not seem like a lot, but when you live on what you earn week-to-week or month-to-month, every dollar counts. An extra $600 would change our lives for the better.
Single mothers like Maria, Johnetta and I want to work for what we earn. We want the same shot that everyone has to bring a paycheck that pays our bills and gives our kids more than we ever had. We want tomorrow to be better than today.
We are the faces of the Earned Income Credit and Child Tax Credit at the Illinois Capitol. We need help, and we need it now. If we can get it, we will be very grateful and we will reinvest this money to help other people like us who are working hard to support their families. We can’t do it without extra help, so please vote to give us a chance for a better life.
Lettie Hicks is a single mother from East St. Louis who is a parent leader with the Chicago-based organization Community Organizing and Family Issues.