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What’s poverty look like in 2024?; What organizations are doing to help?

  • Scott LaMar
National Poverty in American Awareness Month wallpaper with US flag colors and typography in the center.

National Poverty in American Awareness Month wallpaper with US flag colors and typography in the center.

Aired; January 18th, 2024.


January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month. Almost 38 million people are living in poverty in the U.S.

The poverty line adjusted by the federal government each year was almost $15,000 in household income for a single person in 2023. For a family of four, it was just shy of $30,000.

President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty in the 1960s that included programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps; Medicare; Medicaid; Head Start; and expanded Social Security. Those programs kept millions out of poverty but they obviously didn’t eliminate it.

What factors lead to poverty today and what is being done to improve the lives of those living below the poverty line?

On The Spark Thursday, Robin Rohrbaugh, President & CEO, Community Progress Council in York County and on the Board of Directors for the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania, addressed what poverty looks like today,”One of the things that’s really important for your listeners to understand is that, poverty is a very, very low income threshold. There are three times the number of people in York County who struggle from one month to the next to pay their bills and meet their financial needs. And so it is a much bigger issue than just thinking about the lowest income folks in our communities. I think the other thing that I would say is that, 65% or greater of the people who live below the federal poverty level are working people. And so I think that that becomes a surprising fact for lots of folks. The largest population of people living in poverty are children or, people under the age of 18. And so it’s somewhat I think it’s closer to 30% of the population of children live below poverty. So that’s pretty astounding. And I think the other thing that we know is that female head of households are also experiencing higher levels of poverty. This is an issue, that affects, black and brown people much more intensively, disproportionately then than our white counterparts.”

Beck Moore, CEO, Community Action Association of Pennsylvania said on the program the costs of essentials like food, rent and utilities have all increased in recent years, which makes it difficult to break the cycle of poverty in some families.

Moore’s Association includes more than 20 members and they work with those battling poverty,”They have a centralized intake process that’s going to address whole family and think about the entire individual child, the mother, the father, whatever the family dynamics are in the instance of that family in order to figure out it’s not just about this one instance, it’s about all of these things. And they may come in for one need. But through their intake process, they’re figuring out this is the other service that this person would really benefit from.”

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