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U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden addresses child care, affordable housing, climate change during visit to Eugene
Register-Guard - 10/13/2021
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden spoke in Eugene about initiatives to address child care shortages, the lack of affordable housing and climate change Tuesday afternoon.
Hosted at the Market District Commons, a 50-unit affordable housing complex that recently opened in downtown, Wyden said he wants to increase the number of housing vouchers to address affordable housing.
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To highlight the need for better child care, Wyden was joined by Nichi Linder, a Eugene mother and organizer for Family Forward Action.
Linder explained the challenges she faced trying to find any open slots for her 4-year-old son to go back to preschool this summer when she felt it was safe to return after the pandemic.
She eventually found a spot with Willamalane Park and Recreation District, noting she benefited from being able to work from home, allowing her easier access to register for the spots that filled up fast.
Before the meeting, Linder said she also was impacted financially when the grocery store her husband works at put him on unpaid leave for three months during the pandemic.
"It's just challenging to afford child care right now, and we're super reliant on child tax credit," she said, noting she's worried about when the credits are set to end in January. "The stress of parenting through a pandemic has exacerbated my daily struggle with severe and complex chronic illnesses, to the point where I've had to reduce my work hours even further in order to make it through the day."
With regard to child care, Wyden said he wants to extend federal child tax credits as long as possible to assist families in need and to secure paid family leave to assist parents struggling to get by.
"Particularly now, a lot of them are walking an economic tightrope," Wyden said. "They're balancing the food bill, against the fuel bill, against the rent bill. And without paid family leave, if they take time out to care for a sick elder or child, often they can end up, in much of the country, losing their jobs."
Wyden added he met with a mother in Portland who had been spending more on child care than housing.
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Along with Linder, Wyden was joined by University of Oregon senior Maya Ward, who spoke at the event in favor of initiatives to combat climate change.
While discussing climate change, Wyden highlighted his Clean Energy for America bill, which intends to overhaul the federal energy tax code. One effect would be creating a policy so the more someone reduces carbon emissions, the greater their tax savings are.
Also speaking at the event was Jacob Fox, the executive director for the Homes For Good housing agency, which operates Market District Commons. In his comments, Fox thanked Wyden for his work to address affordable housing.
Louis Krauss covers breaking news for The Register-Guard. Contact him at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @LouisKraussNews.
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