The United States is among the richest countries in the world but around 34 million people struggle with poverty, according to the US Census Bureau. While that statistic is grim, the conditions that poor people face are even grimmer: inadequate housing; unhealthy and not enough food; lack of access to good health care; and frequently living in areas with a higher concentration of pollution of soil, air and water.
Most Americans are familiar with poverty, or the concept of poverty, in one way or another. A vast majority of the general population either has direct experience with poverty (or hovering close to the poverty line) or knows someone who has been caught in the trap of poverty. Poverty is a struggle that often results in lack of prosperity, unimaginable sacrifices, and deprivation which can be difficult to overcome. Those bearing the brunt of this struggle are often: the nation’s largely uncounted homeless population; those working at low-income jobs; single parents working multiple jobs; and the unemployed.
Low-income communities find themselves caught in a trap of poverty and find themselves facing factors including, but are not limited to: a lack of health insurance; low-weight births; fewer preventive doctor visits; school truancy; frequent moves and school switches; greater exposure to crime and drug use; job lay-offs; and financial distress. Breaking out of this trap is extremely difficult which impacts both adults and children as poverty becomes inherited by future generations.
Poverty is something that no person should have to be burdened with. We have enough resources and ingenuity to combat poverty. But how? We need to push our various levels of government to take the issue of poverty seriously and do their part. Additionally, we need to come together and start addressing our issues step by step, community after community, until every person in the United States is free from the burden of poverty.