“Our budget should represent all of us, not just the powerful few.”
RALEIGH (August 12, 2021) — Today North Carolinians marched from the Governor’s Mansion to the General Assembly. The symbolic funeral procession demanded attention to the lives of people who have died due to the healthcare gap in North Carolina, as well as those who have been harmed by the state’s historic underinvestment in affordable housing and worker protections.
Participants of the march came from across the state to call on the NCGA to pass a state budget that expands Medicaid, provides housing relief, and protects workers’ rights.
“We know there is over $6 billion available right now,” said Lorri Nandrea of Raleigh Area Workers Assembly. “We are here to demand a budget that invests in the real needs of North Carolinians. Our budget should represent all of us, not just the powerful few.”
Marchers carried photos of people who have died from the lack of affordable healthcare in the state. Robin Jordan, a mother from Alamance County, spoke on behalf of her daughter who died due to an accidental overdose in 2018.
“They say time heals all wounds, but that’s a lie. Pain is now a permanent part of my life,” Jordan said.
Unable to afford treatment, Jordan’s daughter was among over half a million North Carolinians in the state’s healthcare coverage gap. Jordan now advocates for the expansion of Medicaid, a policy she believes could have saved her daughter’s life.
Employees of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) attended the march to advocate for safe staffing and a real raise. “We state DHHS workers care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, yet the state’s budget priorities do not recognize this,” said Sekia Royall, a state DHHS worker at O’Berry Center in Goldsboro, NC, and president of the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, UE Local 150.
“We are chronically underpaid,” Royall said. “We were understaffed before the pandemic. Now we are losing even more staff, which makes the safety issues worse. Some units have 50-60% vacant positions.”
Joseph Wheeler of Fayetteville lost his job during the pandemic and is now facing eviction. “When I lost my job I had my rent increased and haven’t been able to afford my rent since November,” Wheeler said. “The wages don’t keep up with the rent we have to pay. We need the state to raise the wages and grant rental assistance.”
“Why are we cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy when one in four renters in our state are paying half of their income for housing?” asked Courtney Steinberg, a member of Down Home North Carolina. “Housing is a basic need. And that’s what the state budget should reflect.”
Members of the NC People’s Budget coalition are available for comment. Additional photos, videos, and documentation of the action can be found on NC United for Survival & Beyond’s Facebook page and at @united4survival on Twitter.
The People’s Budget NC is a platform created by a coalition of over 40 organizations demanding that the NCGA use all unallocated monies to fund healthcare, housing, and worker protections as part of the 2021 state budget. Over $6 billion dollars of unallocated funds sit unused in North Carolina while poor and working-class people undergo serious hardships due to the pandemic. The People’s Budget NC platform and organizational endorsements can be found here.