Returning to the Collective

New approaches to alleviating poverty

Authored by: Susan Roll , Sue Steiner

The Routledge Handbook of Poverty in the United States

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415673440
eBook ISBN: 9781315755519
Adobe ISBN: 9781317627401


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The inadequacy of income from low-wage work combined with minimal government benefits has become even more apparent in the recent recession. As hours and pay were cut back and government benefits began to diminish, families at the bottom could no longer meet their basic needs. This resulted in the loss of housing, limited ability to buy food and other necessities, inadequate or no child care options, and a significant reduction in medical care. To illustrate, in 2010 46.9 million individuals were living in poverty, up from 37.2 million prior to the recession in 2007. This represents the largest number of people in poverty since the United States began recording poverty rates in the late 1950s. Also in 2010, 17.2 million (one in seven) households experienced food insecurity, the highest number ever recorded in the United States (Coleman-Jensen et al., 2011). In that same year 25.6% of all Americans experienced at least one month without health insurance. In 2012, 27 states had waiting lists for child care vouchers for low-income families, and virtually every state had lowered the income threshold to qualify for these vouchers, making fewer people eligible (Schulman and Blank, 2012).

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