Five Reasons To Be Hopeful in 2022
We are two weeks into the year 2022 and Washington state just surpassed one million confirmed COVID-19 cases since the virus began nearly two years ago. Last month, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport posted the most cancelled fights of any airport in the world for consecutive days, due to staffing shortages during the holiday season. The U.S. inflation rate is its highest since 1982. Gas prices are the highest in seven years. And the Seattle Seahawks will be watching the NFL playoffs on TV like the rest of us.
Surely, we have reasons to be somber and sullen. Yet at United Way of King County, we’re primed to crank up Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 smash, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Though the skies are often gloomy and dark-clouded (it’s winter in Seattle; what do you expect?), we see silver linings that make us hopeful and optimistic. We have pledged renewed focus on programs that will continue to help navigate our area through the COVID-19 pandemic. Coupled with thoughtful local, state and federal policies by our lawmakers, we believe 2022 could mark the start of a comeback.
Here are five things—in no order— that give us hope in 2022.
- Free tax filing is back. United Way is looking forward to helping people file their tax returns! We provide high-quality tax assistance for everyone, and we can help determine whether you are eligible for the Internal Revenue Service’s Earned Income Tax Credit. We will offer free tax preparation both during and after tax season at various locations and virtually. Along with the Child Tax Credit and other critical itemizations, filers can capitalize on one of the most powerful anti-poverty tools available. We look forward to serving thousands of hard-working people in King County that experience age, race, income, language or disability barriers when trying to access tax support. We follow COVID-19 protocols for safety and hygiene at all our in-person sites. Our experts know all the new tax laws and available credits, so they can maximize your return and you can keep more of your money.
- COVID’s peak could be approaching: Colossal Outbreak Virus Is Depressing. Come On, Vaccinate in Droves. Got any other alternate acronyms for coronavirus disease 19, which as of this week has infected 313 million people worldwide and 62.7 million in our country? Yet after nearly three years of having our world turned upside down, it appears we are moving closer to COVID’s epilogue. One reason to be hopeful: According to news reports, health officials say that the latest COVID variant omicron, although more contagious, appears less deadly than its predecessors. And health officials say that fully vaccinated people infected with the omicron variant could end up with super immunity to coronavirus. Moreover, news reports say that in countries such as the UK, omicron has peaked, and U.S. health officials believe the variant might peak here by late January or early February. United Way continues to provide resources and assistance to communities in King County during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A great opportunity to impact the homelessness crisis: In November, Bruce Harrell became the latest Seattle mayoral candidate to win election on the promise he will provide a permanent, lasting solution to the city’s homelessness crisis. And as we at United Way focus on homelessness prevention with rental assistance and other resources, we look forward (with cautious optimism) to Harrell’s plan of action on the crisis—as well as his collaboration with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, an agency that places all homelessness services under one roof.
- Benefits Hub for loan forgiveness: President Biden ran on a successful 2020 election platform that included forgiving student loan debt. We look forward to the president making good on his promise, which would benefit more than 44 million people carrying a combined trillion dollars in debt. Cancellation would particularly benefit women, who carry nearly two thirds of the nation’s student loan debt, according to Yahoo Finance. Even if Biden fails to deliver on his promise, United Way will continue to address needs of local college students via our Bridge to Finish Benefits Hubs, which are one-stop resources on ten local campuses.
- The 2021 State Legislative session: The 60-day session began on January 10, and it promises to be an assembly where lawmakers will try to craft legislation that will directly impact our quality of life, now and in the years ahead. They include new policing laws, funding for transportation projects, and making housing available and affordable. Many lawmakers’ proposals align with United Way’s State Agenda for 2022.
Those are our five—what are yours?
Please offer comments on what you are looking forward to in 2022.