Alicia Skins Abstract Poverty is one of the most serious issues in the United States today. Those that are affected were once the minority of society is now emerging as the majority. The new faces of poverty would surprise many people. It is no longer the face of the pleading face of a middle-aged man on a city street holding up a sign that says “Hungry, Need Help. “, or the face of a young child in a classroom, whose only real meal today will be a free school lunch.
It is also the sad face of a single mother who doesn’t have enough money to buy clothes for her children. The truth is that the scope of poverty is evolving from low income populations to middle income suburban households. Economic fluctuations causing high unemployment rates, food price increases have made the cost of living vastly unattainable for many Americans. This paper will discuss the how these populations are affected with mental illness, homelessness and hunger, as a result of the increasing epidemic of poverty.
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It also will outline what measures are being taken by the government as well as the faith based community by creating various programs and outreach services to eradicate one of he most urgent issues in the United States The United States of America is considered on the wealthiest countries in the world it envied by other countries for its vast resources and the technological advancements attract many individual to obtain residence here. With all of the opportunities and resources this country possesses, there are millions of people who are unable to obtain the basic needs in life such as food and shelter.
In fact the demographics of individuals have changed dramatically in recent years. They are now becoming part of the population living in poverty. (Lund, 2012, p. 213) Poverty an be described in many ways, such as the state or condition of having little or no money, goods or means of support. Some measure their standard of living according to number of material items they possess, such as internet access, cable television, and luxury vehicles. Economic Indicators refer to poverty in statistical terms and numerations. In 2011 the poverty rate was 15%. 46. Million Americans living at or below the poverty line. However what these definitions and figures do not illustrate that the face of poverty is no longer that of the destitute or indigent individuals and families. Poverty is now becoming a part of mainstream America. Affected Populations According to the U. S. Census there are 46. 2 Million Americans living at our below the poverty line. (U. S Census, 2012) Of those, 16 million are children; over 2. 3 are individuals over the age of sixty-five. Other groups include foreign born and undocumented individuals.
African Americans and Hispanics represent the highest percentage of poverty victims living in low SEES systems. While poverty used to be segregated to the indigent and destitute, Poverty is moving into suburban households and becoming a fixture in middle class America. The correlation of income to economic stability further suggests that earning ability directly links these vulnerable populations to poverty. The income for a single person at the poverty line is $11,490 (“America’s Poverty rate according to the United States Census Bureau,” 2012) and $23,550 for a family of four.
These amounts appear to be very low, and surprisingly are now is representative of incomes for what was once a middle class population. An example of this the Smith family comprised of a husband and wife with 2 children. At one time they were a two income household. Both earners used o make a combined income of $60,000 dollars. Mr.. Smith recently was unemployed from his Job as an auto parts technician and now only receives unemployment. His wife was a manager at a local department store and has had her hours cut back to only thirty hours per week. They now have a combined income of $28,000.
While they are not at the poverty line, they are having difficulty making ends meet. This example represents the new population of poor that targets specific ethnic, cultural and age demographics. Another example is Mrs.. Ross, a retired cafeteria worker, whose husband is ceased so she no longer receives his disability and now only earns Social Security and receives Medicare. She is struggling to maintain her living expenses. It is reported that over 2. 3 million over the age. These individuals represent the growing population that is most affected groups living in poverty.
The stereotype of homeless vulnerable populations are now represented through the youth, the elderly and the disabled. A greater demand for services outweighs the availability required to assist these populations. Churches and other Faith Based organizations have answered the all to feed and clothe the less fortunate and anyone else in need. Primary causes Economic, Societal, Family Instability One of the main causes of poverty is unemployment. The fluctuating state of unemployment has moved more individuals closer to poverty. The current rate of unemployment is 7. 7%.
This percentage is comprised of individuals with little or no education or Job skills, as well as those with advanced education and Job skills. These statistics develop a new profile of what poverty looks like. (Crosby, 2011). The labor force of educated individuals are now competing with skilled laborers for the same jobs. The result is the growing trend of underemployment. This occurs when a worker is employed, but not in the desired capacity whether in terms of compensation, hours, skills or experience. Many middle class families have been affected by this trend which further increases a family’s chance of facing economic crisis.
Society has contributed to the growth of poverty that target low income individuals and those who are in desperate financial need. The media influence illustrates deceptive images of easy wealth through payday loans, title pawns, and other quick cash schemes that promise to help them get out of the poverty, but in act are disguised by excessive interest rates and fines. Cones, 2013) that creates an ongoing cycle that continues when the loans from these sources become due and there is not an ability to pay. Being in need holds a person in a place of desperation and vulnerable to making poor decisions.
Media forms such as, Television, film and music genres portray images of expensive clothes cars and Jewelry that prey on an individual’s psychological framework that creates a belief that if they have these material items it will make them happier. So the pursuit of wealth becomes the focus. Individuals purchase homes, vehicles and other materials they cannot afford, and rapidly create financial issues. The blame can squarely be placed on those who make poor financial decisions, as well as those who are victims of circumstances. (Mescaline, 2008, p. 132).
Regardless, of the cause there can be both internal and external influences that are contributing factors. The link between family structure and the economic well-being is directly related to quality of life that should be afforded to all. The loss of an income has substantive effects on a family’s ability to meet living expenses. Single parent households, The Elderly are often most impacted. Overall the family dynamic in the United States is evolving, where multiple generations, and roommate situations exist to absorb the cost of living expenses. The ability to pool resources, share in expenses in an effort to help one another. Montgomery, 2011). As the economy climate continues to stabilize; various parts of the country are experiencing the outcomes. Hunger, Homelessness, Mental Illness, Crime The United States is known as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and as the land of opportunity and plenty. Yet many of its inhabitants are hungry, homeless ND victims of crime. The television ads seeking monetary donations for children in other countries mislead our thoughts to the countless men, women and children who are living in poverty. There are several organizations such as Feed the children and Eunice that work to eliminate poverty throughout the world.
It is estimated that over 30 billion in foreign aid is allocated to help the needy. (wry. USA. Gob, n. D. ) Consequently, the United States Government is proposing cuts to programs such as Food Stamps that feed needy families. The truth is that there is a growing population f needy her in the United States, and the government alone cannot eliminate poverty. The work of Human Service professionals, who partner with Churches, and other Community organizations, will be a major force in addressing this issue. Ongoing financial insecurity is a problem that moves more individuals into poverty.
This has led to the creation of an emerging population entitled the “working poor” and has permeated what was once referred to as the “Middle Class” (Abeles, 2009). Individuals in various industries such as hospitality and retail have experienced massive layoffs, and reduction in work hours. People who find themselves working yet underemployed at low paying Jobs have difficulty to paying for living expenses. Middle class Americans who obtained this level through education, investments, and asset building are beginning to see a shift in the lifestyle they once enjoyed.
Individuals are slowly watching the disappearance of the middle class and are now being classified as the working poor. Although they are educated and once had asset protection, they are now utilizing the resources such as public assistance and other programs. Governmental agencies and programs are overwhelmed with the amount f individuals and families seeking aid. Unfortunately many of these programs do not help those that really need it because of the specific guidelines and requirements. Food Banks, pantries and many faith based organizations have used creative solutions to meet the needs communities across the country.
Rising cost of food items, insufficient income sources result in economic distress. A greater dependency on food pantries to supplement food supplies is being utilized. Social Service programs have seen an increase in requests in services which have caused revised guidelines for their programs. The stress and anxiety that is experienced lead to depression and frustration. Most individuals do not immediately recognize these emotions as a form of mental illness. It is the ongoing stress over the inability to obtain employment, purchase food that affect the ability in decision making and forces those out of desperation.
The factors that prelude Poverty, lack of income often result in homelessness. Housing absorbs the highest proportion of a family’s income so it is not surprising that is usually the first expense to be eliminated. The rate of foreclosures in the United States continues to escalate. This adds strain to local shelters and low income housing. (Lad, 2012) emphasizes the importance of poverty as a variable adversely influencing health. Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon, encompassing inability to satisfy basic needs, lack of control over resources, lack of education and poor health.
Poverty can be intrinsically alienating and distressing, and of particular concern are the direct and indirect effects of poverty on the development and maintenance of emotional, behavioral and psychiatric problems. When basic living needs are not met, feelings of tress and anxiety develop that if not treated, can escalate into severe mental disturbances. The feelings of hopelessness become overwhelming when people believe they have no options. The Church has become a large influence in reaching out to those in need, without the stipulations and requirements of the government.
In scripture Matthew 25:35 it states that Christians should feed the hungry clothe the naked. (Wright, 2010) Concentrated poverty occurs when more than 40 percent of a community lies below the poverty level, as more neighborhood experience widespread layoffs and unemployment, the level of criminal activity increases. The high stress levels lead people to commit crimes of theft, robbery and other violent acts. Disadvantaged youth feel inferior without access to quality education and role models. They are more likely to associate in gang activity.
The influence of church has been a redeeming source for to counteract the consequences that poverty has had on our society. Studies have shown concentrated poverty to have adverse effects on many facets of life, including employment, education, health and criminal behavior. With Additional federal government cuts, and unemployment, the concentration of people n poverty will spread to more areas. The situation only will get worse and result in an epidemic similar to the plagues witnessed in other third world countries. Conclusion The state of the U.
S. Economy suggests that there are indicators that show a slow emerging out of the recession, however for certain populations are still held in poverty. It will rely on faith based organizations and other non-profit groups to meet the demand to eradicate poverty to the vulnerable populations (Parker, 2008). The field of Human Services in today’s society plays a very important role that has evolved he overall quality of life. (Martin, 2011) Human Services can be traced to biblical times, when lower class individuals were helped by upper class society.