Take POWER's Economic Rights Survey!
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Frequently Asked Questions

What are economic human rights?

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housing is a human right, yellow sign held in hand
POWER's Housing is a Human Right Rally.
Portland, Maine, March 4, 2005.

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POWER created this Economic Human Rights Survey to help document conditions of poverty and economic hardship here in Maine. These conditions represent violations of our human rights, and as part of our efforts to build a movement to end poverty, we are documenting these violations. Please take a few moments to complete this survey and share your story about economic human rights violations that you have experienced. Only when we refuse to remain silent can we organize to stop these human rights abuses and abolish poverty once & for all.

If you have a story to share about struggling to meet your health needs,
please also see POWER's NEW

Portland Organizing to Win Economic Rights


Thank you for taking POWER's online survey! Feel free to answer as many or as few questions as you like, & please respond as honestly as possible. For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions section, or contact us with additional questions. Thank you!

Right to Housing ( Article 25 )
  1. Have you ever had trouble finding or keeping housing that you could afford? Yes No
  2. Have you ever been put on a waiting list for public housing/Section8/etc?Yes No
             If so, how long did you have to wait?
  3. Have you or your family ever been homeless?YesNo
             If so, for how long?
  4. Have you ever had to stay in a homeless shelter? YesNo
             If so, did you feel safe there? YesNo N/A
            What were the conditions like?
  5. Have you ever had your heat, electricity, phone or other basic utilities shut off?Yes No
  6. Have you ever had to live in crowded or unsafe conditions? Yes No
             If so, feel free to explain:  

Right to a Job with a Living Wage ( Article 23 )
  1. Have you ever worked for minimum wage or less?Yes No 
              If so, for how long?      
  2. What is your monthly income?   
              How many people rely on your income? 
              If employed, does your employer provide health benefits? Yes No N/A
  3. Have you had to work more than one job to make ends meet? Yes No
  4. Were you ever laid off? Yes No
              If so, how long before you found a new job? 
  5. Did you ever lose unemployment benefits before you found a new job? Yes No  
  6. Have you ever gotten sick/injured because of your job? Yes No
              If so, were you able to get medical treatment or worker's comp?Yes No N/A
  7. Have you ever gone into debt to pay for shelter, heat, healthcare costs, etc?Yes No
              If so, did this result in bankruptcy or foreclosure? Yes No N/A
  8. Were you ever harrassed, threatened, or fired for attempting to join or form union? Yes No
  9. Have you ever worked for a temp agency or day labor company?Yes No
              If so, for how long? 
              Did it ever result in being hired permanently?Yes No N/A

Right to Health Care ( Article 25 )
                   ***Note: Please also see POWER's new Healthcare Justice Survey.
1. Have you ever been without health coverage for more than 12 months? Yes No
If so, how long were you uninsured? 
Did you apply for Medicaid (MaineCare) during this time?Yes No N/A
If so, were you ever denied? Yes No N/A
During this time did you have any health problems? Yes No N/A
Please feel free to explain: 
2. Do you and your family currently have affordable, adequate health coverage? Yes No 
If so, what type(s) of coverage*? 
*For example: Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, VA, DirigoHealth, etc.
How much do YOU pay each month for premiums, deductibles, co-pays, etc?
3. Have you ever been denied or gone without medical care because you couldn't pay? Yes No
4. Have you ever gone without prescriptions because you couldn't afford them?Yes No
5. Have your mental health needs ever gone unmet due to a lack of financial resources?Yes No
6. Do you have access to the dental care you need? Yes No
If not, have you endured health problems as a result? Yes No N/A 
7. Have you or anyone in your family suffered illnesses or health problems (physical or psychological)
    caused or worsened by a lack of healthcare or other conditions of poverty? Yes No 
          If so, please feel free to explain:

Right to Food, Childcare, & Other Basic Needs  ( Article 25 )
1. Were you ever denied or cut off benefits* when you needed them? Yes No  
           If so, what reasons were given? 
          *For example: Food Stamps, MaineCare, TANF, GA, SSI, etc.
2. Has your family ever relied on food pantries/soup kitchens to get enough to eat?Yes No
3. Have you or your family skipped meals because there wasn't enough money for food?Yes No
4. Have you ever had problems obtaining safe, affordable childcare?Yes No
If so, have you ever lost or not taken a job due to lack of affordable childcare?YesNoN/A
5. Have you ever felt that you were you treated unfairly or disrespectfully when seeking help from 
    government agencies (such as DHHS, Unemployment, or General Assistance, etc)? Yes No 
          If so, feel free to explain: 
6. Were you ever forced to work for welfare benefits (for TANF, GA, etc)? Yes No
If so, were you raising small children at the time? Yes No N/A
If so, did you have safe and affordable childcare? Yes No N/A
Were you working for less than minimum wage? Yes No N/A
How many hours a week/month did you work?
Did you have safe and affordable transportation to and from work? Yes No N/A
7. Have your children ever been unjustly removed due to conditions of poverty?Yes No  
           If so, please feel free to explain: 
 Did a lack of resources lead to further injustice in the judicial system?Yes No N/A

Right to Education ( Article 26 )
1. Have you ever had to leave school/training because you couldn't afford it? Yes No
2. Are you currently burdened with debt due to the cost  of higher education?Yes No
If so, how much is your current debt?
3. Has the cost of training or higher education kept it out of your reach? Yes No
          If so, has a lack of higher education made it difficult to provide for your family?
         Yes No N/A
Tell us more about your story
Please use this space to go into more detail about any violations of your economic human rights.

How to send additional documentation
If you'd like you may send additional documentation (i.e. photos, copies of doctor's bills, etc)
- please send any additional materials to POWER, Po Box 4281, Portland, ME 04101. If you
have any questions or need help with postage costs, please call us at 207-650-5092. 

How can we make this survey better?
Please feel free to use the space below to suggest any additional questions you would like us to 
add to this survey, as well as any other comments or feedback that you have.

Permission to use your story
I hereby certify that Portland Organizing to Win Economic Rights (POWER) has my permission to use my story in their efforts to document economic human rights violations & help build a movement to abolish poverty. [*REQUIRED FIELD]

Contact Information [optional]                        Click here to skip ahead & submit survey
Please note that any & all contact information is kept confidential.
Name:      Email: 
Address:  Apt #
Town:       State:   Zip:

Additional Information [optional]                   Click here to skip ahead & submit survey
Age:   Gender:  Race/Ethnicity:  
If you have children, how many children do you have?
In your opinion, how would you describe your family's economic situation when you were growing up?
I grew up poor / in poverty.
I grew up low-income.
I grew up working class / blue collar.
I grew up middle class.
I grew up professional upper middle class / white collar.
I grew up rich / wealthy.
Other - please define:
Has your economic situation changed since childhood?Yes No  
           ...If yes, please describe how it has changed:
Getting more involved [optional]          Click here to skip ahead & submit survey

Are you interested in speaking out about your experiences?

I'm interested in speaking out - please contact me.
I might be interested in speaking out. Feel free to contact me about it.
I'd like to share my story anonymously. Please have someone else read my story for me.

Would you like more information about POWER? 

Please send me more information about POWER.  
I'd like to subscribe to POWER's email list so I can stay informed.
I'm interested in attending the next POWER meeting - please send me more info.
I'd like to join POWER - please send me a membership card.
I'm interested in volunteering - please contact me.
I'd like to make a donation to support POWER's work to end poverty.

Submit your survey!
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PS --If have trouble submiting your survey, please click here
to make sure you checked off "YES" in the required field.


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About this Survey: Frequently Asked Questions 
  • Q: Do I have to answer all the questions in order to take the survey? --No. Feel free to answer as many or as few questions as you like. Of course, the more you answer, the more helpful it is for us. 
  • Q: Can I take the survey anonymously? --Yes. Giving your name & contact information is entirely optional. 
  • Q: Will any contact information I provide be kept confidential? --Yes. Absolutely.
  • Q: Do I have to be poor or low-income to take the survey? --No. Anyone may take the survey. 
  • Q: Do I have to be from Maine to take the survey? --No. Anyone may take the survey. 
  • Q: What are economic human rights? --Economic human rights include our rights to food, housing, healthcare, living wage jobs, education, and income for those who need it. These rights are outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: for more info click here or visit our human rights page
  • Q: What are some examples of economic human rights violations? --For example: problems getting healthcare when you needed it; struggling to pay your rent or mortgage; working jobs that don't pay enough to make ends meet; skipping prescriptions because they were too expensive; taking on student loans you later can't afford to pay... These are just some of the many examples of economic human rights violations that millions of us are experiencing all across the nation. 
  • Q: When I tried to submit the survey, I received an error message. What do I do?
    --Please click here to make sure you checked off "YES" in the required field.

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More About Economic Human Rights
Conditions of poverty represent violations of our economic human rights. As part of the struggle to end poverty, we're working to document these violations wherever they occur.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a landmark international treaty signed by the United States in 1948. It clearly states that economic human rights are guaranteed to all human beings.

Some examples of economic human rights are found outlined specifically in Articles 23, 25, & 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see below). 

Also see:
What are Economic Human Rights?
The Presence of Justice: An Intro to Economic Human Rights * [Word]
*Produced by POWER's EHR Taskforce
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Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Articles 23, 25, & 26 | Read the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 23:
The right to LIVING WAGE JOBS, to safe working conditions, and to form and join unions.

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for him/herself and his/her family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his/her interests.

Article 25:
The right to well-being of a person and their family, including: HOUSING, HEALTHCARE, & FOOD, CHILDCARE, & SECURITY for all those who are unemployed, unable to work, or working at home raising children, or caring for other family members.  

  1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of him/herself and of his or her family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his or her control.
  2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26:
The right to EDUCATION, including higher education & training. 

  1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

For the full text of the

*A special note about testifying & speaking out
 --from your fellow POWER members

First of all, we strongly encourage each and every person who has experienced injustices relating to their right to healthcare to consider testifying and telling their story in person. That said, we also want you to know that you are welcome to send us any testimony you have anonymously. We're a low-income led organization, and many of us have been through very similar struggles, & we understand. Trust us - we really understand.

However, we really do hope you'll consider testifying. We say this knowing how hard it can be to speak out about what are often very painful, personal experiences. Many of us have struggled for YEARS to find the courage to tell our stories publicly. We know first-hand how scary it can be. But we also know what can happen when we overcome these fears. Many of us have found that speaking out about your story can be a life-changing experience. When we stood up & exposed these injustices, we turned what used to be our fear, isolation, & shame into a new sense of courage, power, & pride - and we found out that we are far stronger & more powerful than we ever imagined ourselves to be. And that, friends, is something that money just can't buy, and better still, it's something that lasts a lifetime.

But more than that, many of us have also come to realize that it is far scarier to do nothing, to say nothing. Because the fact is, the longer we refuse to speak out about these injustices, the longer these injustices will continue. And that's what the 'enemy' wants - in this case, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical companies, the HMO's, & all of their paid-for lobbyists, debt collectors, & politicians. They rely on our fear. These enemies of justice depend on us remaining quiet, isolated, & ashamed - that way we never challenge them. Nothing would make them happier than for us to continue to quietly accept the status quo and keep on suffering under this broken healthcare system that is literally billing us for killing us.... Yes, we have the right to remain silent, accept the status quo, & we lose what little we already have. But we also have the right to speak out & demand change - and it's up to us to choose. We already know that complaining under our breath and in private conversations isn't getting us anywhere.

Millions upon millions of are suffering these injustices. We're really the majority and we really do have power - it's just a matter of us recognizing this power & gathering the courage to use it. We live in the richest nation the world has ever known - we shouldn't be dying for healthcare! The choice is ours: we can agree to remain silent & let these profiteers (and the politicians they pay for) keep stealing both our dollars & our rights out from underneath us. Or we can find our voices, make some noise, & demand some justice.

Last of all, we want to end by saying this: to all of our brothers and sisters out there with a story to share - we want you to know that above all, we will support whatever decision you make. If you're not ready right now, that's ok. Just know that we will be here for you when you are.

In solidarity,
Your friends at Portland Organizing to Win Economic Rights


mothers of the disappeard marching past the portland city hall , very large crowd.

POWER's Mothers of the Disappeared Protest.
Portland, Maine, March 8, 2004.

When we unite to claim our rights together we have POWER!

Portland Organizing to Win Economic Rights = POWER!
Contact POWER

Winning our economic rights;
Putting poverty on trial;
Building a Maine that truly is the way life should be - for ALL of us!!!

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