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Poverty in America

CAPWN's New Employee Orientation to Poverty Issues

Jennifer Rogers

on 16 October 2013

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Transcript of Poverty in America

Poverty in America
Community Action
Partnership of Western Nebraska

Poverty Statistics
Causes of Wealth and Poverty in America
The Realities of Meeting Basic Needs Activity
A Lack of Resources
Cultural Competency
Risk Factors/
Protective Factors
Keys for Working With Those in Poverty
• 9 million Americans suffer from hunger.
• 33.6 million Americans are food insecure, or at risk for hunger.
• 6.18 million households with children in the U.S. are food insecure.
Market Forces
•Where can you cash a check without any identification? How much will it cost?
•Where can you get a loan on your car title? How much will it cost?
Key Factors to Remember
"Risk" Factors: slip into/remain in poverty
"Protective" Factors: develop/maintain assets and wealth
Both can impact individuals, families, communities, and societies
Examples of each?
Financial—having the money to purchase goods and services; however, financial resources are more than just cash. Assets such as credit, property and equity are also sources of financial resources.
What are cultures?
In order to serve people in poverty, individuals need to continually ask questions about context and experiences related to poverty so that they keep learning and growing.
Key Perspectives for working with the economically disadvantaged
Review Measuring Poverty Data
See Handout
Consider the following questions. Imagine the amount of time people in poverty spend meeting these basic needs. Think about the resiliency and resourcefulness of people in poverty.
CAPWN’s Poverty Impact (Activity #2)
Levels of Impact / Programs & Interventions / Outcomes
•Explain what to do if you are being evicted and have no money to move.
•Tell what you would do to survive without garbage service, utilities or a telephone.
•From which dumpsters can you get returnable cans and bottles without being caught?
•How can you get tons of newspaper and cardboard? Where do you sell these items? How much will you earn?
•Explain how to survive winter nights without heat.
•Explain how to go for days without food.
•Which stores will let you get food and pay for it later?
•Where would you go for help if your utilities were being shut off?
•How do you show “proof” that you live in a neighborhood that you really don’t in order to get better services?
•Explain how to keep food cold without a refrigerator.
•Explain how to cook without a stove.
For examples, see Handout #2
Class and Cultural Structure
Individual Responses
Physical, Developmental, and Mental Limitations
The macro-economic picture of market capital generated, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as one primary measure can be considered “the Pie”.
The institutionalized drivers that determine the concentration of wealth and poverty.
Crisis or Catastrophe
Emotional—Being able to choose and control emotional responses, particularly to negative situations without engaging in self-destructive behavior. This is an internal resource and shows itself through stamina, perseverance and choices.
Social Capital—having friends, family, backup resources and knowledge bases available to access in times of need. These are external resources.
Role Models—having frequent access to appropriate adults who are nurturing and who do not engage in self-destructive behavior (mentors).
Mental—having the capacity to process information, evaluate a situation, and use prior experience to make decisions in daily living.
See Handout #3, Models and Types of Poverty
What is the key factor that leads to cultural sensitivity?
Answer: Self-Awareness
Those who do work with individuals living in poverty must communicate with them effectively in order to honor and include their voices as planning for poverty services continues.
(Dr. Donna Beegle, See Poverty…Be the Difference! Discovering the Missing Pieces for Working with People in Poverty, 2005)
Am I setting them up for success?
Does the intervention that I am suggesting or implementing make sense in their current context?
Am I considering their situation, resources, and health before asking them to follow through with my organization’s programs or policies?
Are there supports that I need to build in and help people connect to that will increase their ability to be successful?
• 46.5 (15.1%) million people in the U.S. live below the poverty line; 26.2 million of these Americans are children.
• Real household incomes have declined 2.2% from 2000 to the present.
• Median household rental cost for Americans who do not own their home is $602.00 a month.
• There are currently 10,424,540 vacant housing units in the U.S., more than enough to house the estimated 636,000 homeless Americans on any given night.
Important Factors
Educational attainment: The more advanced one’s education is, the less likely it is that he/she will experience high rates of poverty.
Employment status: The total number of people in poverty who worked full time or part time is higher than those who did not work at all.
Household type: Out of the large number of married households, a small percentage of them live in poverty. Out of the small number of female-headed households, a large percentage of them live in poverty.
Race & Hispanic origin: The highest numbers of people in poverty are white; however, people of color have the highest percentages of their population in poverty.
Age: Children comprise the greatest numbers and percentages of people in poverty.
Market growth is often touted as the solution to poverty, though history and statistics have shown the opposite to be the case.
The market economy is driven by consolidation of wealth through maximization of competitive advantage (inhibiting the ability for those not already within the wealthy category to get ahead).
Current examples: education, health care, political access and decision-making, and prejudicial structures such as the criminal justice system.
Historic examples: the institution of property ownership (male-only) and slavery (racially-oriented).
Class and cultural structures such as racism provide different levels of protection.
Can promote/inhibit access to structures for getting ahead.
Individuals with disabilities are often faced with "double jeopardy" related to poverty: their disability decreases their ability to participate in the workforce, and also can sometimes lead to an inaccurate perception by employers as to their ability to work, despite their individual capability.
Discrimination by employers or potential employers may be overt or unintentional.
Programs designed to economically assist those living with disabilities are often a cumbersome process to navigate, and are typically low enough dollar amounts that they can contribute to an individual's poverty status.
Most wealth and poverty can be traced to formal structures (see those previously noted) that reinforce or create barriers to getting out of poverty.
Further compounding the problem can be an individual's response to the structures.
For example, drug and alcohol abuse or engaging in illegal practices can result in incarceration leading to deepened poverty and lack of opportunities.
Examples of individual responses leading to a further consolidation of wealth include those choosing to take advantage of tax incentives or shelters for the wealthy.
Individual or community experiences of sudden crisis such as illness or natural disaster can tip people into or exacerbate the problem of poverty.
Other examples? How would you deal with a sudden crisis (i.e. emergency savings, support system)?
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