Coalition on Human Needs (CHN)

Coalition on Human Needs (CHN)


* Network of social justice organizations that lobby government to increase social welfare spending

Operating on the premise that American society is insufficiently attentive to the concerns of the poor, the Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) is a network of national organizations working together to “promote public policies which address the needs of low-income and other vulnerable populations.” The Coalition was founded in 1981 “by organizations concerned about President Reagan’s proposals to consolidate targeted federal funding for human needs programs into block grants” for discretionary state spending.

CHN’s current membership consists of leftwing social justice entities that widely promote tax hikes to fund an ever-expanding array of social welfare programs. Among these member organizations are: ACORN; the American Friends Service Committee; the Center for American Progress; Campaign for America’s Future; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; the Center for Community Change; the Center for Economic and Policy Research; the Center for Women’s Policy Studies; the Children’s Defense Fund; the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; the Institute for Women’s Policy Research; the Mennonite Central Committee; the National Council of Churches; the National Council of La Raza; the National Immigration Law Center; the National Partnership for Women and Families; the National Priorities Project; the National Women’s Law Center; People for the American Way; the Service Employees International Union; and the YWCA of the USA.

To disseminate its message, CHN regularly publishes legislative analyses, issue briefs, fact sheets, action alerts, and a bi-monthly newsletter titled The Human Needs Report. The Coalition also sponsors educational seminars and briefings on what it calls “issues of concern to the human needs community.” These issues include:

  • Immigrants: “Despite the hardships faced by many immigrants, public policy in recent years has too often failed to address the needs of immigrants. Some essential social services for certain legal immigrant families have been eliminated altogether.”
  • Social Security: “Perceptions of a looming insolvency have made the program vulnerable to those who would privatize it, replacing it with a new system of individual savings accounts.”
  • Tax Policy: “The federal tax cuts enacted starting in 2001 have failed both to preserve an adequate amount of revenue and to collect it fairly.” [This assertion is contradicted by a May 18, 2007 Congressional Budget Office report, which states that “total federal revenues grew by about $625 billion, or 35 percent, between fiscal year 2003 and fiscal year 2006. … The bulk of the revenue increase was associated with corporate income taxes … Revenues from individual income taxes increased 0.6 percentage points.”]
  • Housing: “Federal disinvestment, soaring rental costs, and the ever-decreasing value of the minimum wage are among several factors contributing to the affordable housing crisis in this country.”
  • Block Grants: “In recent years, the Bush Administration and/or Congress have proposed new block grants covering Medicaid, housing vouchers, child welfare services, Head Start, and other programs. Many of these proposals have raised concerns about shrinking federal responsibilities to help low-income people, especially during a time when states have been making cutbacks.”

CHN is a member of the Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities (ECAP), a network of national and grassroots organizations seeking to secure government funding for social welfare programs allegedly undermined by the Bush administration’s tax cuts. Following the Democrat victories in the November 2006 mid-term elections, CHN issued a renewed call for massive increases in social welfare spending: “With the new leadership in the 110th Congress, many of the worst threats are behind us, but six years of upside-down priorities wreaked significant damage that must be undone. We hope that, with our guidance, the 2008 federal budget will finally reflect an agenda of investment in America’s future. Such a budget would provide a down payment on high-quality, comprehensive education for all from early childhood through college; quality, affordable health care for all; and a commitment to clean energy and reduced dependence on oil.”

The Executive Director of CHN is Deborah Weinstein, who, prior to joining the Coalition, served for nine years as Director of the Family Income Division of the Children’s Defense Fund. In March 2007, Weinstein echoed the goals of ECAP in an op-ed piece written for the progressive Web journal “The Coalition on Human Needs, working with … [ECAP], has been urging Congress to raise the total for domestic appropriations to $450 billion … This Congress can make the choices to … stop squandering resources on tax cuts, special interest spending and unnecessary military expenditures, and invest in meeting human need.”

The CHN Board of Directors includes officials from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the Center for American Progress; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; the Center for Community Change; the Institute for Women’s Policy Research; the National Council of La Raza; the National Education Association; the National Immigration Law Center, the National Women’s Law Center; People for the American Way; the Service Employees International Union; and the YWCA of the USA.

CHN is a member of the Moving Ideas Network, a coalition of more than 250 leftwing activist groups, which began as a project of the Center for American Progress.

CHN has received funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Public Welfare Foundation.

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