Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Reality of Poverty & Austin

During my Caritas volunteer training, I took a class called "The Reality of Poverty." I was curious to learn about this subject because I honestly have no idea what poverty looks like and how hard it is to live in it. I am (obviously) in no way an expert, and recognize what I learned is just the tip of the iceberg... plus it is only book knowledge, not first hand experience... but I thought there were some fascinating things I should share.

Did you know that the Federal Poverty Guidelines determine who qualifies for social services assistance, regardless of what city you live in? Well, the 2008 Poverty Level is as follows:
  • For a family of 1: $10,210/year
  • For a family of 2: $13,690/year
  • For a family of 3: $17,170/year
  • For a family of 4: $20,650/year
  • (it goes on up from there, but you get the idea)
Those numbers stay the same whether you live in Lincoln, Nebraska; Abilene, Texas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; or Austin. Now why does that matter? Well, think about what you know about the cost of living in Austin: it is HIGH! If you live here, you know just what I'm talking about.
Now imagine what that means for families in Austin who need to qualify for low income social services!

And check this out... a 2006 statistic provided by the Basic Needs Coalition of Central Texas says that IN TRAVIS COUNTY a family of 4 (2 parents, 2 kids) needs a household income of $53,080/year just to cover basic expenses... more than double the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Which means that 40% of families live below the "Central Texas Security Index" suggesting that any major change in their family income or expenses threatens their ability to make ends meet.

This information was shocking to me! And so scary. And makes me want to be a part of helping those with low incomes in Austin. Click here and here to find out how to help.

Isn't that crazy!??

1 comment:

Heather said...

Pretty insane stats. I would bet there are many in the church who are members of the "working poor" (those who make too much money to qualify for assistance, but not what is deemed necessary to live in Austin).