Posts tagged poverty
Posts tagged poverty
Voice for the Voiceless
Please watch this little 6 min film to meet some of the people I serve and learn why I am so proud to work at the Lighthouse.
Thanks to Bear, Warren, Harvey and Karmen for sharing in this powerful piece filmed by the Evan Hardy Media School. They interview me a little bit too.
This film premiered at Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon in the middle of January and Giving A Voice To The Voiceless won Grand Prize and Fan Favourite.
Minimum-wage jobs are physically demanding, have unpredictable schedules, and pay so meagerly that workers can’t save up enough to move on.
The nation’s poverty rate was cut in half, from 22.2 percent in 1960 to an all time low of 11.1 percent by 1973. Most dramatic was the decline of poverty among the elderly, from 35.2 percent in 1959 to 14.6 percent in 1974, thanks to enactment of Medicare in 1965 and cost-of-living increases for Social Security. The poverty rate among African Americans fell from 55.1 percent in 1959 (when most blacks still lived in the rural South) to 41.8 percent in 1966 (when blacks were an increasingly urban group) to 30.3 percent by 1974.
The nation’s poverty rate has never returned to the level Harrington described in The Other America. But progress was stalled in the 1970s. Today, almost 50 million Americans — over 15 percent of the population — live below the nation’s official poverty threshold. Almost as many poor people live in the suburbs as in cities — a phenomenon that was unthinkable 50 years ago. About one-quarter (22 percent) of America’s children now live in poverty. The poverty rate is much higher for Blacks (27 percent) and Latinos (26 percent) than for whites (10 percent). A significant proportion of America’s poverty population are the working poor, who earn poverty-level wages.
Even more startling is the fact that 100 million people comprise what the U.S. Census calls the poor and the “near poor,” based on a new definition of poverty that measures living standards, not just income. Almost one-third of the nation, in other words, can barely make ends meet.
Although America’s poverty rate has fluctuated over the years, it has persistently been two or three times higher than poverty rates in most European societies, which have much more generous social welfare policies and stronger labor unions. Even Canada — which has a similar economy and distribution of wealth as the United States — has a much lower poverty rate and does not permit the level of sheer destitution and misery found in the United States, including hunger, slums, and the growing army of homeless people sleeping on park benches and in vacant buildings.
Generosity can’t always bridge cultural and economic divides
"For those who are well-off, it may be easier to castigate the irresponsibility of the poor than to recognize that success in life is a reflection not only of enterprise and willpower, but also of random chance and early upbringing.
Low-income earners, who actually encounter the needy in daily life, understand this complexity and respond with empathy. Researchers say that’s why the poorest 20 percent of Americans donate more to charity, as a fraction of their incomes, than the richest 20 percent. Meet those who need help, especially children, and you become less judgmental and more compassionate.
And compassion isn’t a sign of weakness, but a mark of civilization.”
In August, Science published a landmark study concluding that poverty, itself, hurts our ability to make decisions about school, finances, and life, imposing a mental burden similar to losing 13 IQ points.
It was widely seen as a counter-argument to claims that poor people are “to blame” for bad decisions and a rebuke to policies that withhold money from the poorest families unless they behave in a certain way. After all, if being poor leads to bad decision-making (as opposed to the other way around), then giving cash should alleviate the cognitive burdens of poverty, all on its own.
Sometimes, science doesn’t stick without a proper anecdote, and “Why I Make Terrible Decisions,” a comment published on Gawker's Kinja platform by a person in poverty, is a devastating illustration of the Science study.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Emily Badger. Oct 24, 2013
The housing crisis sounded all kinds of alarms for policymakers and the public about what happens when families can’t afford their homes, or when they lose the stability that a secure home provides. We’ve heard about the effects of foreclosures on neighborhoods, the weight of housing stress on human health, the impact of lost equity on household wealth for huge portions of the U.S. population.
But something has been absent in all this talk about how unstable housing in any form affects families.
"The attention raised by the mortgage crisis and the foreclosure crisis really missed a lot of central aspects of housing that are likely to be important for children," says Rebekah Levine Coley, a professor in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.
Notably, it’s the quality of housing – the presence of peeling paint or cockroaches, broken appliances or damaged walls – that most strongly predicts a child’s well-being and development.”
Do you remember when a couple brought a box of shoes to donate and inside there was some blue slippers? Well there was a client who I was able to help through those slippers.
This person came to me complaining about his feet and I asked them what was wrong. They stated they had blisters and asked if I had a band-aid. I asked to look at his feet because I wanted to see how bad his feet were. They proceeded to undo their shoes and at this point I noticed they had no socks on and was wearing high leather work boots.
As the shoe came off I saw how bad their feet actually were and I knew I did not have the medical experience to help them. What I was able to do was get them some socks, and I grabbed the slippers that were just donated and brought it to them. I was assuming the slippers would be too big as they were wearing a size 7 shoe and the slippers were a 10. But when I brought them over, they fit perfect! The shoes they were wearing were 3X too small!
My next step was to get in contact with our new nurse Donna to see if she would have time to dress their feet at some point. This person has been with us for a few days and has been known to just hang around the dining area. So I knew if I was to find our nurse it wouldn’t be a problem to find them… I was wrong… the nurse came and this person was no where to be found! Turns out the socks and slippers helped out wonders and this person was walking around outside! We finally tracked them down and the nurse was able to dress his feet… by supper time I saw the first smile I have seen on this person… it totally made my day and week!
Woke up this morning to this story in my inbox from a co-worker and just had to share!
Robert Reich on The Daily Show, September 16, 2013.
Also sorry to be, well, me, but TANF has a work requirement, but there are so few jobs (at least in my state) that it is terribly difficult to meet the work requirement. We have moms picking up garbage in the hot southern sun to meet the work requirement while their kids are in substandard childcare (because the poor don’t deserve great childcare, right?!).
We have this idea that white middle class mothers should stay at home with their kids—it’s what is best for them, it is critical—and research seems to support that. But by golly, if a woman of color in my state can’t make ends meet and has to go on TANF to support her kids and raise them she better be out there in the hot sun picking up trash instead of getting job training or education (which doesn’t count as work requirements under TANF, even though in the long run it would be better for the family and give them more opportunities) while her kids are in shit daycare.
And they only have two years to get back on their feet! And then all of it is gone! TANF is done! TANF isn’t even that much. What do you do in areas where there is no industry, there are few minimum wage jobs, and education and job training are too expensive?
Extreme poverty among elderly women shot up between 2011 and 2012. What’s going on?
Read more. [Image: Christian Hartmann/Reuters]
While I hate the first sentence with a passion, this is a trend we see here in Saskatoon as well. Lack of affordable housing really squeezes people, especially seniors on fixed incomes.