Poverty, having less than you need to meet your basic personal or family needs, breeds hunger and homelessness, poor health and poorer prospects for a bright tomorrow. Learn more and help enrich the lives of others.
Poverty is a condition in which people lack the resources to obtain basic necessities in order to live and thrive in society. One of the main reasons poverty is allowed to continue in the world is because underprivileged people are often ignored by or hidden from those with resources and power. By opening our eyes to the statistics and the stories, new opportunities for solidarity, support and advocacy become clear.
Every year the United States develops rates below or at which a person or family is considered “in poverty.” The US Census Bureau reports that the number of people in the United States below the poverty line increased from 13.2% in 2008 to 14.3% in 2009. The poverty rate of Hispanics and Blacks in the United States is just over 25% while the rate for non-Hispanic Whites is under 10%.
The US census bureau now shows that a single parent with one child is in poverty if the family does not have an income over $15,063 (before taxes). Given the average cost of living and resources needed to care for 2 children, a family of 4 with two adults would be in poverty today even if the family made $22,162 a year (pre-tax). Present services often do little to help improve the situation. The Food Stamp program SNAP, for example, provides an average allotment of four dollars a day to spend on food. Poverty, near poverty and extreme poverty are a serious problem in the United States.
Exploring Poverty on the Local Scene
Locally, according to an American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, Connecticut had the third lowest poverty rate in the country in 2006 at 9.3%. However, hidden within this low rate is a colossal 33.5% poverty rate in the city of Hartford, making it the second poorest city in the United States with a population of more than 100,000 people according to the last national census.
From Local to Global
Though poverty is a massive problem here in the United States, other countries face even worse situations of poverty. According to statistics reported by the World Bank in an overview of global poverty, 1.1 billion people live on less than one dollar a day, while 2.8 billion people live on less than two dollars a day.
There are numerous other statistics that paint a grim picture of global poverty. For example, over 65 million school-age children around the world cannot go to school. Over 800,000 thousand die malaria per year and 30.8 million are infected with HIV/AIDS. Millions do not have access to adequate medical care, food, and shelter, and safe drinking water is unavailable to an estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide.
The problems of poverty that we face include a lack of awareness for the circumstances of impoverished people and an inherent segregation between the haves and have-nots. Sharing experiences together bridge this divide. Increased contact and engagement with those in need transforms our perception of poverty by putting names, faces and relationships in place of numbers and labels.
Poverty inherently puts individuals at risk in a multitude of other social issues – hunger, homelessness, literacy and education, employment, or health and health care. Learn more, make the connections, and volunteer to help those immediately affected; work for change, be the change.
Hands on Hartford offers many ways to get involved with the issue of Poverty. Check the project calendar or search to find a service opportunities that fit your schedule and interest.
The above information was taken from the following sources. Click on the links to learn more: World Bank, globalhealthfacts.org, U.S. Census Bureau, The World Health Organization, UNICEF, International Food Policy Research Institute.