The Census Bureau released the latest poverty numbers last week, announcing that one in six Americans lived in poverty. Since then, there’s been an onslaught of related articles and local articles about the topic, from Connecticut to New York to Wisconsin to California. And while we may tend to think of poverty as an urban phenomenon, recent news articles suggest that poverty is spreading quickly in suburban areas across the country.
Why do we care? Because most people who experience homelessness were, before they were homeless, really poor. In fact, there is a relationship between the number of people living in deep poverty (living at below half the poverty line) and the number of people who experience homelessness. What that means for us is that the same programs that alleviate poverty for Americans also prevent homelessness. We’ve written before about protecting social services that benefit families at risk of experiencing homelessness like TANF and Medicaid; this is exactly what we were talking about.
Luckily, there are people who are thinking carefully and strategically about poverty. Alliance president Nan Roman was among them when she went to Texas last week to attend the first National Poverty Summit hosted by Catholic Charities. With other leaders in the field, she discussed ways to better serve the too many American people living in poverty.
We’re working on it. We’ll be discussing poverty and its relationship to homelessness – and what we can do about it – in the weeks to come. In the meantime, feel free to contact us with questions or comments or find us on Facebook and/or Twitter.