Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Poverty Living

By Johnice Woods – Director of Projects

January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month. You might be thinking the same thing I thought, “Who knew there was such an observance?” Many of us who are fortunate to have full-time employment, reliable transportation, decent housing, adequate clothing and food, may not be aware that there are 39.5 million people who live below the poverty line, 12.9 are children (Source: U.S. Census Bureau). To bring this data closer to home, in Dallas County there are approximately 408,000 persons who live below the poverty line.

I would like for us to take a closer look at a typical person who is seeking housing at CityWalk@Akard. Despite what the media has reported (which is that CityWalk is a development for persons who are currently homeless, not true), the majority of our prospective tenants are employed. Their employment wages range from what is considered poverty wage, $5.04 per hour to the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Studies have shown that a “living wage,” which is what a person needs to earn to adequately support a quality lifestyle, is $8.88 per hour. The following is a table list of expenses for a person earning a living wage in Dallas County (Source: http://www.povertyinamerica.psu.edu – Living wage calculator)

Monthly Expenses

Food $237
Medical $93
Housing $718
Transportation $275
Other $199
Taxes $20
TOTAL $1,542

A food preparation specialist at a local school district earns minimum wage which is $1,257 a month. As you can see, it is difficult for a person earning minimum wage to cover basic living needs. Many of them receive minimum federal assistance because they either don’t qualify because they work or the government bureaucracy is not worth their time to continue to reapply.

So what is the point of this blog you ask? There is a huge need for more quality and affordable housing for those persons who are often overlooked because they are not homeless and are not eligible for government assistance. Fact is they want to work and contribute to their communities but are struggling to maintain day to day needs. Coincidentally, January is also International Quality of Life Month.

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