Rental payments among Allentown Housing Authority residents have dropped significantly since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, and as that number increases it is creating concern that the AHA will not have enough money to pay for critical services, such as maintenance and other programs.
2020 is a Presidential election year, which traditionally means that in addition to President and Vice President, voters get to select senators in many states, and all members of the U.S. House of Representatives are on the ballot. In addition, all Pennsylvania state representatives and many state Senators are also on the ballot.
These are the people who make decisions on federal spending for healthcare, Medicare, education, public housing, public safety, clean water, race relations and civil rights that affect all American citizens and non-resident visitors to the country.
"I know there is a lot of stuff out there this year about voting, but there is no reason to not request a ballot, fill it out, and return it," said AHA Executive Director Dan Farrell.
Kate Kelly, the Associate Director of Outreach and Community Engagement for the Housing Alliance, said her organization is partnering with 23 nonprofits across the state to launch PA Votes with the goal of contacting at least 4,000 new voters — including ithose who have never voted before or have not voted in recent elections.
About half of the effort is aimed at getting non-voters registered and team has set a goal of Sept. 22, the fourth Tuesday of the month, which a "holiday" known now as National Voter Registration Day. The other half of the effort is reminding registered voters to either obtain and mail a mail-in or absentee ballot or go to the polls on Nov. 3.
"We realize the Allentown Housing Authority is not a traditional non-profit partner, but they had a great plan to help us reach out to voters in their system," Kelly said.
"Really, the goal of this is to engage voters who may be low income, may be homeless, or previously have not been engaged in the voting process," Kelly added. "For residents of the housing authority, it means knowing how important it is to be civically engaged. It's important to not just be registered to vote, but to have a plan to vote."
"Elections have enormous consequences," said Chris Borick, a professor of Political Science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. "Decisions made at the federal and state levels have an impact on every aspect of our lives."
The results of our local, state and federal elections affect public policy decisions that have far-reaching outcomes, he said.
"One of the easiest things you can do to have an impact on the outcome and future of those programs is to vote and make your voice heard," Borick said. "It's important for all of us to understand that we have the right to vote, we have a responsibility to vote," said Kelly. "Housing is a right, too. Our voice counts, our votes count."
To register online, update or change your registration, learn where to vote, request an absentee or mail-in ballot, please go to www.lehighcounty.org/Departments/Voter-registration.
Lehigh County is also seeking people to serve as poll workers on Election Day, Nov. 3. If you are interested in learning more, please go to www.lehighcounty.org/Departments/Voter-Registration/Poll-Worker/Election-Board-Member-Duties.