ON THE ISSUES
As the son of a union steelworker and school teacher, Saafir Rabb understands the need to be paid a living wage for meaningful work. This is why he supports the proposed increase in the federal Minimum Wage to $15/hour and, more specifically, the establishment of living wages.
Saafir also believes it is possible for Maryland’s 7th District to achieve Full Employment. In the past two decades, Saafir’s company has helped to create hundreds of construction trade jobs in the Baltimore and DC metropolitan areas. His goal is for all federal infrastructure funding allocated to the 7th District to prioritize hiring from the capable workforce, including talented licensed professionals and union laborers, already living here. This approach will incentivize residents to stay in the District and contribute to a growing tax base.
Some District residents may require Vocational Training, or re-training, in order to secure jobs in emerging industries such as information technology, multi-platform media, and renewable energy. Although the national unemployment rate is at an all-time low, there are thousands of people in our District who continue to experience barriers to employment, such as low-income entry-level workers who cannot afford advanced training programs, individuals whose felony convictions are a barrier to work after they re-enter society, and veterans returning to civilian life.
Saafir will work hard to secure resources to support any individual living in the District who is seeking full-time, stable employment.
Whether renters or homeowners, we all care about our neighborhoods. We appreciate the value of historic landmarks that increase Property Values and contribute to the culture and attractiveness of an area. We want to live in communities that are safe and welcoming, with trees and green spaces for recreation. Everyone living in the 7th District has a need for stable and affordable housing that has functioning heat, air, water, plumbing, and electricity.
Much of the housing stock in Baltimore City is sub-standard. Lead paint and mold are ongoing problems, rats and other pests are not efficiently controlled, and condemned buildings owned by absentee landlords endanger surrounding residents. Affordability is a major barrier for many District residents. We all know Baltimore has a Homeless problem. In 2018, more than 12,000 homeless individuals in the city were provided services. But there are also homeless individuals and families in other parts of the 7th District. Nearly 4,000 homeless individuals in Baltimore County and 1,000 homeless individuals in Howard County were also provided services in 2018.
Saafir wants to expand District residents’ access to Home Ownership, including expanding subsidized mortgage programs. Home ownership will not only reduce the number of absentee and predatory landlords, it will also increase property value and residents’ equity and a sense of pride in their homes. Land use, green spaces, community-friendly spaces for recreation and celebrations can all be value-enhancing additions throughout the District.
Saafir is committed to securing the infrastructure resources that will ensure quality and Affordable Housing for all District residents.
Everyone benefits from regular health check-ups, preventive screenings, and treatment in the earliest stages of disease. Access to quality and affordable health care must be a right for all Americans. There are compelling proposals for Universal Coverage, such as Medicare For All, that warrant a thorough examination. And the ACA made significant improvements to our health care system, such as protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions, that must continue. But the cost of health insurance is still a barrier for many.
In the real world, away from the policy debates, health insurance alone does not always ensure access to health care or good health. Visits to the doctor may help our elders manage diabetes or hypertension, but those visits cannot prevent traumatic injury among people living in communities with high rates of violence. There are communities in our District with no grocery stores and sub-standard housing. There are impoverished neighborhoods in Baltimore City where rates of infant mortality, HIV, and life expectancy are equivalent to developing nations in Africa and Asia.
The solution to poor health has many dimensions. In order to achieve good health throughout Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, all of our citizens need access to food that is fresh and nutritious, stable housing that is safe and affordable, living wage jobs, a physical environment free of violence, and access to affordable health care.
Saafir will seek to ensure health coverage for all, while he also strives to ensure jobs, housing, public safety, and infrastructure throughout the District.
Saafir believes the consensus among scientists across the world that climate change has man-made origins. He believes this is an urgent and existential crisis that is calling out for leadership, vision, and strategic man-made solutions.
A national transition from carbon-based energy to renewable and sustainable energy is essential, and it needs to begin now. Saafir supports the Green New Deal, which is not simply about protection of the environment. It is a complex, layered plan that will retrain workers and retool whole industries. Solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources still under development need to be championed with ample resources. Going forward, every infrastructure, housing, and commercial project should be required to address environmental concerns and strive for 100% green compliance.
All of us need clean air, clean water, and nutritious food to flourish. Saafir sees great value in the federal legislation that has been passed to protect our environment, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency. When nature is imbalanced, people living in impoverished neighborhoods are often the first to suffer—from flooding, utility cut-offs, isolation, and lack of emergency response. This is true in America as it is around the world. We are all vulnerable, however, to the increases in storms and violent winds, flash flooding of streets and highways, and the imminent breakdown of utility grids. We need to ensure that our District’s public services infrastructure and emergency preparedness are strong and fully resourced, so that we are ready to act.
Our green spaces need to be preserved and expanded. This includes our National Parks and Monuments as well as the local forests, parks, and waterways spread throughout our District. Our grandchildren, and the grandchildren of our grandchildren, deserve a healthy, vibrant planet on which to live. They deserve to cherish and live among the diversity of flora and fauna that previous generations have enjoyed.
Saafir has experience with large-scale environmental projects. He recently worked, for example, with urban stakeholders in San Diego to build a solar manufacturing plant, and he worked with environmentalists in Montana to create a two-million-acre park and nature preserve.
Saafir will prioritize legislation and allocation of resources that will help us to reverse the climate change trend. He has faith that we have the ingenuity to heal our planet before it is too late.