When some people think of poverty, they envision homeless people in city streets, backwoods hicks who don’t have electricity or overweight hermits who only want to live off the government. When comparing your life to these extreme stereotypes, it’s easy to see why most people don’t think they’ll ever be poor. But like every stereotype, these images of poverty only showcase the small, extreme versions of the full story. Most people living in poverty work one or more jobs; they live in run down but respectable homes; they have an education; they don’t want to live in poverty, and they’ve fallen on hard times because of circumstances out of their control.
Most people who experience poverty do so situationally, meaning something like a job loss, divorce, or death has temporarily affected their ability to be self-sufficient. Urban Ventures says, “While there can be a domino effect caused by this one significant change, families experiencing Situational Poverty tend to remain hopeful, knowing that this is a temporary setback. This typically is not so with generational poverty. Generational Poverty is defined as a family having lived in poverty for at least two generations.”
When you think, “I’ll never be poor” you’re probably right that you’ll never experience generational poverty or the extreme examples I’ve already listed, but according to FRAC, "two-thirds of Americans will experience at least one year of relative poverty at some point between the ages of 25 and 60.” Two-thirds of all Americans will experience situational poverty for at least a year. That year of poverty may be while you’re earning a higher degree, or after retirement, or after a death or job loss anywhere along the way.
An article on Talk Poverty adds, “[Mark Rank's] work tells us that more than 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 will be poor for at least a year. Over the same period, more than half will be poor or nearly poor, with income at 150 percent of the poverty line, or about $27,000 annually for a family of three.”
Related | 10 Myths About Poverty
This high rate of situational poverty is why we should all be working together to support each other. By working together and supporting organizations like Community Action that help people out of poverty, we will build a stronger community, better lives and a healthier economy. Situational poverty is an unfortunate part of life for us all, but we can make it less painful if we work together.
Support People in Situational Poverty By:
Donating | We use your money to help run our programs, and provide training that helps organizations and individuals make their way to self-sufficiency. You can donate on our web page or support your local community action agency.
Volunteering | We can’t do this alone. Join us! Contact your local community action agency and check out their website for volunteer opportunities.
Becoming a Member | Did you know you can become a Community Action Member? Membership provides discounted rates to our training sessions and events, an inside look into our organization and more. Membership fees start at only $25 a year for an individual or $300 for an agency.
Partnering with Us | We are humbled by the many non-profit and for-profit organizations that partner with us to bring services, educations and events to North Carolina. If your organization is looking for a non-profit to partner with, please consider us. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!