We read these in the daily papers, and hear them on the evening news. Politicians hoping for election or reelection in November talk about them. And, they are important to discuss.
However, in this time of tremendous economic insecurity, those in power and those seeking power do not talk about “POVERTY.” Deeper than the “middle class” are the millions of members of our communities who are living in true poverty. In September each year the Census Bureau releases a report: Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States. Each year since I have been with NETWORK, the number and percentage of persons living below the poverty level has increased – significantly.
In 2008, this was 39.8 million (13.2%) of our neighbors. For a household of four, including two children that level was $22,570. An individual with income just under $11,000 was classified as poor. Personally, I cannot imagine living on that amount of income. The numbers for 2009, the first full year of the recession, are due to be published on September 14. We anticipate the numbers to have increased drastically – as we see numbers at food pantries and soup kitchens, and applying for SNAP (Food Stamps) leaping up.
The Senate passed legislation last week to extend Mortgage relief. This is a good thing. However, they have been unable to capitalize the National Housing Trust Fund which will allow households at the extremely-low-income level (at or below 30% of the area median income) to find affordable housing. We have seen the vast increase in homeless families over the last few years. There is a tremendous shortage of housing affordable at that level. And, approximately 40% of foreclosures have been on rental property. Many households evicted due to no fault of their own.
NETWORK is co-sponsoring an interfaith movement to:
Reverse the Trend, Reduce Poverty.
In this election year, we need to actively engage those running for office to talk about poverty – and what they will do about it. Catholic Social Teaching and Tradition mandate justice and compassion, with special concern for those who struggle in poverty. However, as we look across our country today, we see a nation where millions of people are lacking the basic necessities of life; we see growing numbers of jobless individuals, and even more people who are working, but whose wages are not enough to keep them out of poverty. NETWORK invites you to join with thousands of members of our interfaith community to reverse the trend.
Fighting Poverty with Faith  is one response to the painful reality of increasing poverty by building a nationwide movement to cut domestic poverty in half between 2010 and 2020.