man shoplifting food
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Many Americans Turning to Shoplifting to Survive Pandemic; Supreme Court Hands LGBTQ Parents a Win; and More

Shoplifting on the rise as more Americans steal to survive the pandemic.

As deaths from COVID-19 top 300,000 and the virus continues to surge, a new problem is emerging across America. More and more individuals, especially lower-income minorities, are turning to shoplifting as a means of survival. According to the Washington Post, “Shoplifting is up markedly since the pandemic began in the spring and at higher levels than in past economic downturns, according to interviews with more than a dozen retailers, security experts and police departments across the country.” 

“We’re seeing an increase in low-impact crimes,” Jeff Zisner, chief executive of workplace security firm Aegis told the Post. “It’s not a whole lot of people going in, grabbing TVs and running out the front door. It’s a very different kind of crime — it’s people stealing consumables and items associated with children and babies.”

With additional COVID-19 relief from the government looking less and less likely before President-elect Biden takes office in January and more than 20 million Americans already on some form of unemployment assistance, times are already incredibly tough. Add to that the fact that more than 12 million more men and women are also set to run out of federal COVID-19 benefits the day after Christmas, and the fact that more and more people are turning to shoplifting for food, grooming products and baby goods shouldn’t be that surprising.

Food banks and community pantries are already inundated with people needing assistance. Some locations are running low on essential goods and many report hour-long waits for the food they do have available. Under the Trump administration, food aid programs like SNAP and WIC have been greatly reduced. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 54 million Americans will struggle with hunger and food insecurity this year, a 45% increase from 2019. 

“There is a well-known historical correlation between unemployment and theft,” Fabien Tiburce, chief executive of Compliant IA (a software platform that helps retailers manage their operations, including loss prevention) told the Post. This connection is especially prevalent in the U.S. compared to countries like Canada or Australia which offer a more robust safety net for people during times of trouble.

The Post reported that “Though shoplifting tends to spike during national crises — it jumped 16% after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and 34% after the 2008 recession, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, which tracks data from U.S. courts — the current trend line is skewing even higher.” And even with a vaccine now being distributed, our battle with COVID-19 is far from over, a fact that causes many experts within the retail and security worlds to fear that this trend will only continue to get worse for the foreseeable future.

 

Major Supreme Court win for LGBTQ parents.

Following rulings against the Trump administration’s fake election scandal claims and a recent victory for trans rights advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court continues to dish out surprising wins (considering its conservative makeup). This time, the high court has declined to take up an Indiana case, which attempted to reverse a lower court’s ruling that allowed both members of same-sex couples within the state to be listed as parents on the birth certificates of their children.

Indiana’s attorney general, Curtis Hill, wanted the justices to reverse a January decision by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed an earlier ruling by Indiana’s federal Southern District Court that said Indiana laws limiting who can be called a parent of a child were unconstitutional.

“It’s a major victory that is going to keep the same-sex families together and the children born to these marriages will have two parents to love and protect them,” Karen Celestino-Horseman, the attorney for the plaintiffs who challenged Indiana’s birth records law, told The Indianapolis Star.

According to The Washington Blade, the original case involved Ashlee and Ruby Henderson, a married couple from Lafayette who filed a federal lawsuit in 2015 challenging Indiana’s birth records law. They sued the state health commissioner and Tippecanoe County officials who had refused to list each of them as parents on the birth certificate of their son, who Ruby conceived through artificial insemination. The Hendersons won the initial case, which found that requiring both women to be listed as parents was the only way to avoid state-sanctioned discrimination against the couple.

 

Millions awarded in new push to increase availability of disability-friendly housing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced that it will be making $86.85 million in new federal funding available to public housing agencies in more than three dozen states, according to a new report in DisabilityScoop. The move is designed to help improve housing options for people with disabilities.

According to HUD spokespeople, the money will be available in what is called Mainstream funding vouchers, which will be available for non-elderly individuals with disabilities who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a separate announcement, HUD also said it would be allocating $54.7 million additional dollars to 15 organizations in 12 states and Washington, D.C. to fund the development of more rental housing for people with disabilities and to provide rental assistance.

The funds will be used to “create permanent supportive housing models that will be at the forefront of design, service delivery and efficient use of federal resources,” HUD said. Their goal of the new initiative is to provide long-term housing security and promote community integration for disabled individuals.

“These awards reinforce our dedication to expanding the supply of affordable rental housing for persons with disabilities,” Dana Wade, assistant secretary for housing and federal housing commissioner at HUD said following the announcements. “The development of new rental housing and subsidies for residents will expand their options to live with independence within the community in a more integrated environment.”

 

D.I. Fast Facts

 

1915 

Year that Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team, formerly known as “The Indians,” was named. On Sunday, Dec. 13, the team confirmed that it plans to drop the offensive term from its name; a new name has yet to be announced. Earlier this year, the Washington Redskins decided to undergo a similar name change. The announcement of that new team name is still pending as well.
CNN

 

24

Percent increase in mental health-related visits to emergency rooms from children ages 5 to 11 compared to 2019. The increase is due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on children’s lives, especially children from Black, Brown and lower-income families.
NBC News

 

Chien-Shiung Wu

Name of the little known female Chinese American nuclear physicist — one of the leaders of the field in the 20th century — who will be honored with a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) stamp in 2021 to celebrate Asian American history and culture. Wu was born in China in 1912, moved to the United States, received her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, and taught at Columbia University for 37 years.NBC News

 

“Thousands”

Number of nurses, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians CVS Health is looking to hire in the coming weeks in an effort to fully staff its pharmacies for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
ABC

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

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