Lecture 6

Report
Lecture 6:
How poor are the poor?
Today’s Readings
•Center on Hunger and Poverty, http://www.centeronhunger.org.
Select the link, “Food Security Institute.”
•Edin and Lein, “Making Ends Meet at a Low-Wage Job,” eReserves
•Arloc Sherman and Isaac Shapiro, “Hardship Indicators Point to a
Difficult Holiday Season: National Policy Response is Off Kilter,”
http://www.cbpp.org/index.html
Today’s Topics
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Income to needs ratios
Income Deficits
Hunger in America
Making Ends Meet--when earnings
aren’t sufficient to cover needs
• Homelessness in America
Income to Needs Ratios
• The income to needs ratio is a family’s
income divided by the poverty threshold
appropriate for its size and composition
Poverty Thresholds, 2004
Income to Needs Ratios
• Recall that poverty thresholds are based on
the USDA’s cheapest food plan--the economy
food plan designed for temporary or
emergency use when funds are low:
– “families spending for food at the dollar cost level
of the economy food plan "had about an even
chance of providing a fair or better diet for [the]
family, but really only one chance in 10 of
providing a good diet.” Mollie Orshansky
Income to Needs Ratios
• See Table 5, CPR P60-229, p. 14 for
characteristics of people with income
ratios below 0.50, between 0.50 and
1.00, and between 1.00 and 1.25.
People with Income Below Specified Ratios of
Their Poverty Thresholds by Age
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
People by Income to Needs Ratio:
1997-2004
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Income Deficits
• An income deficit is the difference in
dollars between a family’s income and
its poverty threshold.
• As its income deficit, a family’s inability
to provide the basic essentials
increases along with material hardships
Size Distribution of Income Deficits for Families in
Poverty: 2004
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, CPR P60-229, Table 6
4,000
3,500
3,000
All families (1000s)
2,500
2,000
Unrelated
Individuals (1000s)
1,500
1,000
500
0
$8,000+
$5,000$5,999
$2,000$2,999
Under
$500
Hunger in America
National Prevalence
• Nearly one in eight US households do not
have access to enough food to meet their
basic needs.
• Over 38 million people live in these foodinsecure households, including 13.9 million
children.・
• More than ten million people live in
households that go hungry; close to one-third
of these are children.
Source: Center on Hunger and Poverty,
http://www.centeronhunger.org/facts.html
Hunger in America
National Prevalence
• Over 40% of low-income children live in
households that are hungry or at risk of
hunger.
• One-third of female-headed households and
more than 20% of Black and Hispanic
households are uncertain of having, or unable
to acquire, enough food to meet the basic
needs of their members because of
insufficient money to buy food.
Source: Center on Hunger and Poverty,
http://www.centeronhunger.org/facts.html
Hunger in America
Emergency Food Assistance
• In 2001, more than 23 million Americans sought
emergency food assistance from food banks, church
pantries, soup kitchens, meal sites, and shelters. On
a monthly basis, this is 6 million more low-income
people than are enrolled in the Food Stamp Program.
• Between 2001 and 2002, requests for emergency
food assistance increased by an average of 19% in
American cities, with 48% of requests coming from
families with children.
Source: Center on Hunger and Poverty,
http://www.centeronhunger.org/facts.html
Hunger in America
Emergency Food Assistance
• Children make up nearly 40% of all
emergency food clients.
• Another 20% are elderly Americans.
• Nearly 40% of all households served by food
banks include someone who is working.
Source: Center on Hunger and Poverty,
http://www.centeronhunger.org/facts.html
Making Ends Meet
• Based on the book, Making Ends Meet: How
single Mother Survive Welfare and Low-Wage
Work, by Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein, 1997
• Sample
– 165 single mothers who worked at low wage
(< $8/hr) and did not receive welfare
– 4 locations: Boston, Charleston, Chicago, and San
Antonio
– Data refer to 1988-1992
Making Ends Meet
• How much did working mothers spend each
month?
• How much income did they have at their
disposal?
• How far did their income stretch?
• What strategies did they use to fill the gap
between earnings and expenditures?
• What hardships were endured?
Making Ends Meet
• How much did working mothers spend each
month?
– $1,243 on average (~$15,000 annually)
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Housing costs
Food costs
Other necessities
Nonessentials
$341
$249
$569
$ 84
27%
20%
46%
7%
Making Ends Meet
• How much income from earnings and
government programs did they have at
their disposal?
– Earnings: $667-$892
– Food Stamps: $10 to $130
(Varies by Location)
– EITC: Would be bigger today
Making Ends Meet
• How far did their income stretch?
– Earnings covered only 63% of their
expenses
– Food Stamps and the EITC covered
another 7%
Making Ends Meet
• What strategies did they use to fill the gap
between earnings and expenditures?
(percentages are percent of total budget)
– Work based strategies: 7% Network based
strategies: 21%
• Family and friends
: 5%
• Boyfriends “pay and stay”: 5%
• Absent fathers: 10%
– Agency based strategies: 3%
Making Ends Meet
• What hardships were endured?
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24% experience a food shortage
8% went hungry
15% went without winter clothing
33% went without phone service
17% had their gas or electricity shut off
33-50% did not see a doctor when they needed
one
– 8% were evicted and 12% were homeless part of
the year
– 24% doubled up with a friend or a relative
Making Ends Meet
• Conclusions
– Single mothers must make hard choices
• Follow the rules and subject family to hardships
• Break the rules
– off-the-books work
– Circumvent Child Support Enforcement System
– Exchange food stamps for cash
• Choose between necessities
– Pay the utility bill or take a child to the doctor
Homelessness in America
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What is the definition of homelessness?
What reliable sources of information are available?
How many people experience homelessness?
Who are the homeless?
What hardships do they face?
Why are they homeless?
How has America responded to the homeless?
Are we solving the problem of homelessness?
Homelessness in America
What is the definition of homelessness?
• Definition according to the Stewart B.
McKinney Act, a person is considered
homeless who “lacks a fixed, regular, and
adequate higt-time residence; and . . . Has a
primary night time residency that is
– A supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed
to provide temporary living accommodations. . .
– An institution that provides a temporary residence for
individuals intended to be institutionalized, or
– A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used
as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
(cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned building, bus
stations)
Homelessness in America
What reliable sources of information are available?
• National Alliance to End Homelessness
– http://www.endhomelessness.org/back/index.htm
• National Coalition for the Homeless
– http://www.nationalhomeless.org/
– http://www.naeh.org/back/MayorsReport2005.pdf
• 24 city survey
– http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts.html
• National Law Center on Homelessness and
Poverty
– http://www.nlchp.org/
Homelessness in America
How many people experience homelessness?
• Methodological Issues
– Point-in-time counts vs. Period prevalence counts
– The “hidden” homeless
• Estimates (p-in-t, 1996 survey of service
providers)
– 3.5 million people, including 1.35 million children
are likely to experience homelessness in a given
year
– 1% of the U. S. Population
– Homeless rates tripled between 1981-1989
– The average stay in a shelter is 8 months.
Homelessness in America
Who are the homeless?
• By age
– 39 % are less than 18 years
– 25 % are between 25 and 34 years
– 6 % are between 55 and 64 years
• By gender and family status
– 41% are single men
– 14% are single women
– 40% are families with children (largest group in
rural areas
Homelessness in America
Who are the homeless? p. 2
• By ethnicity (varies by location)
– 49 % African-American
– 35% Caucasian
– 13% Hispanic
– 2% Native American
– 1% Asian
Homelessness in America
Who are the homeless? p. 3
• Other characteristics
– 22%-25% of women are victims of
domestic violence
– 40% of single men are veterans
– 23% of single adults suffer from severe and
persistent mental illness
– 30% of single adults have addiction
disorders
– 17% plus of urban homeless have jobs
Homelessness in America
What are the causes of homelessness?
• One the demand side:
– lack of jobs that pay a living wage
• 46% of jobs with the most growth between 1994-2005
pay less than $16,000
– and declining value of minimum wage
• Federal minimum wage remains unchanged for eighth
straight year, and fell to 56-Year low relative to the
average wage
• In every state, more than the minimum wage is required
to afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment at 30% of one
full-time workers wage
Homelessness in America
What are the causes of homelessness?
• On the demand side:
– Declining value and availability of public
assistance:
• Maximum TANF benefit is less than half of the poverty
line
• In 125 housing markets, rent for a one-bedroom
apartment exceeded recipients total SSI benefit
• Welfare roles have declined 60% but the number of
families in poverty has increased
• Inadequate supply of housing vouchers
– South Bend example; average wait 35 mo. In U.S.
– Only 1 in 4 TANF families lives in public housing or
receives a housing voucher
Lynn Coleman, assistant to South Bend's mayor, tries to calm
the crowd gathered Wednesday morning at the South Bend
Housing Authority. They were waiting to add their names to
the waiting list for Section 8 low-income housing vouchers.
South Bend Tribune,02/02/02
Homelessness in America
What are the causes of homelessness?
• On the supply side:
– A lack of affordable housing units
• From 1973, 2.2 million low-rent units disappeared
• In 1995, there was an estimated shortage of 4.4 million
affordable housing units
• The number of housing units that rent for less than $300
fell by 1.3 million (19%) between 1996-1998.
• Federal support for low-income housing fell 49% from
1980 to 2003.
– 1.3 milion public housing units in the U.S. in 2006
– http://www.hud.gov/renting/phprog.cfm
Homelessness in America
What are the causes of homelessness?
• Additional factors:
– Mental illness and lack of needed services
– Addiction disorders
– Domestic violence
– Prisoner re-entry
– Lack of affordable health care
Homelessness in America
• What hardships do they face?
– Hate Crimes
– Hunger
– Poor Health
– Disrupted education
– Family dissolution
– Dislocation
Homelessness in America
How has America responded to homeless?
• The Good News: Stewart McKinney Act, 1987
– Congress funded six programs to provide
aid to the homeless
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emergency shelter grants
emergency food programs
new housing demonstration projects
community health-care services
basic education, and
other services.
Homelessness in America
How has America responded to homeless?
• Accomplishments of McKinney
Programs: 1995-1996
– assisted significant numbers of homeless persons
to regain independence and permanent housing
and at reasonable costs.
– Given localities and states new tools for
addressing the problem of homelessness
– represent innovative and effective efforts to
improve access to health and health-related
services for homeless people in the United States
Homelessness in America
How has America responded to homeless?
• The Bad News:
– Problems with McKinney Programs:
• inadequate funding clearly impedes the
effectiveness
• it focuses on emergency measures -- it
responds to the symptoms of
homelessness, not its causes.
Homelessness in America
How has America responded to homeless?
– In 2003, the federal government spent
almost twice as much in housing-related
tax expenditures and direct housing
assistance for households in the top
income quintile than on housing subsidies
for the lowest income households.
Homelessness in America
How has America responded to homeless?
• Criminalizing homelessness
– making it illegal to perform life- sustaining
activities in public:
– sleeping/camping,
– eating,
– sitting,
– begging in public spaces,
– criminal penalties as assessed for violating of
these laws.
• http://www.nlchp.org/content/pubs/ADreamDenied1-11-06.pdf
Homelessness in America
Are we solving the problem of homelessness?
• Homelessness shows no signs of abating
• Between 2004 and 2005 requests for
assistance rose,
– Requests for assisted housing by low-income
families increased by 86 %
– Requests for emergency shelter increased 6%
between 2004 and 2005
• But not all could be met
– an average of 14 percent of overall emergency
shelter requests went unmet
– 32 percent of shelter requests by homeless
families unmet
And then came Katrina. . .
• The number of people living on the streets
threatens to grow as thousands of people are
now homeless as a result of Hurricane
Katrina.
• According to the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, as of late November,
approximately 50,000 hurricane evacuees
remained in hotels and motels awaiting
alternative housing options.

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