Thursday, January 29, 2009

And You Think You're Poor

I'm not sure how reliable KPTV reports are here in Portland (they ARE owned by Ruppert Murdoch/FOX), but I found some staggering information on their website that I'm compelled to share with my readers. If this info. is true, we're in bigger trouble than I feared in Oregon...

Salem -- In 2007, 13 percent of the state's population, or 474,189 Oregonians, lived on incomes less than the federal poverty level. Nearly 40 percent of families headed by single mothers lived in poverty.

These troubling facts are reported in new Report on Poverty 2008 released today by Oregon Housing and Community Services and the Community Action Partnership of Oregon at the state capitol.

"When economic conditions change, people in poverty are among the first to feel the pain and the last to benefit from improvements," said OHCS Director Victor Merced.

Noting that the economy has changed dramatically in the last year, Merced commented, "As the recession deepens, it has begun to touch people unfamiliar with hardship. Each day, new faces appear at food banks, soup kitchens and social service offices."

Sharon Miller, President of the Community Action Partnership of Oregon, hosted an Education Day at the capitol. Directors of community action agencies from around the state joined her to share the poverty report and to educate legislators on a variety of local solutions directed at reducing the suffering of people experiencing hunger, poverty and homelessness.

"In 2007, over half of Oregon's homeless were families with children. These children deserve an opportunity to succeed in school and in life, and to do so, they need a stable home."

Miller asked, "How can a child do her homework from the back seat of a car? Where do you hang a report card in a motel room with no refrigerator?"

The new report brings together data on the number of people experiencing poverty with information about the difficult choices low-income families face and indicators that can drive increases in poverty.

OHCS developed a Basic Family Budget for each county to provide insight into what families really need to make ends meet, from childcare to food to transportation. The county summaries also present recent data about job and population growth, housing and energy costs, and homelessness.

The report pulls together data from the US Census, Oregon Department of Revenue, Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Employment Department and a variety of federal and independent studies to paint a picture of poverty in Oregon.

Among the report's key findings:
In 2007, poverty affected 13 percent of Oregonians.
African American and Native Americans were twice as likely to live in poverty as their White and Asian neighbors.
One of five Oregonians with disabilities lived in poverty.
Inability to afford rent was the most frequently cited cause of homelessness in the state.

The report is available on the department's website at

Oregon Housing and Community Services is the state's housing finance agency and community services program administrator. The department provides financial and program support to create and preserve opportunities for quality, affordable housing serving Oregonians of lower and moderate income, and administers federal and state antipoverty, homeless, energy assistance and community service programs.

The OHCS mission is to "Provide leadership that enables Oregonians to gain housing, become self-sufficient and achieve prosperity."

The mission of Community Action Partnership of Oregon and its member community action agencies is to eradicate the causes and conditions of poverty that exist in Oregon. Community action does this anti-poverty work in collaboration with a variety of partners, representing local, state and federal governments, as well as community and advocacy groups, policymakers and low-income leaders.

Selected findings by county:

Baker -- Nearly half, or 46 percent, of the county's schoolchildren qualified for free and reduced price lunch, an increase of 10 percentage points from 2000.

Benton -- The number of people living in poverty increased 41 percent over its 2000 level.

Clackamas -- The poverty rate increased from 6.6 to 9.5 percent, a sharp rate of increase that affected 13,498 more people than in 2000.

Clatsop -- Forty percent of households headed by single mothers lived in poverty.

Columbia -- Three quarters of the people identified as homeless attributed their homelessness to unaffordable rents.

Coos -- Fifty-four percent of families headed by single mothers lived in poverty.

Crook -- Poverty increased four percentage points between 2000 and 2007.

Curry -- Two-thirds of families in poverty had children younger than 18.

Deschutes -- Deschutes County families needed incomes of more than twice the federal poverty level just to pay for a basic family budget.

Douglas -- Poverty in the county increased from 13.1 percent in 2000 to 14.3 percent in 2007.

Gilliam -- The number of people receiving food stamp benefits grew from 11 percent of the county population in 2004 to 14 percent in 2007.

Grant -- Nearly half of all public school students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches.

Harney -- Fourteen percent of people age 65 and older lived in poverty, significantly higher than the state average of 8 percent for that age group.

Hood River -- More than 3,000 Hood River County residents lived below the poverty line in 2007, or 14.5 percent of the population.

Jackson -- The number of children receiving free and reduced-price lunches grew eight percentage points between 2000 and 2007 to 42 percent of all students.

Jefferson -- Poverty in Jefferson County reached 18 percent of the population in 2007, with one-quarter of the county's children living in poverty.

Josephine -- Fifty-seven percent of households with children under 18 and headed by single women lived in poverty.

Klamath -- One quarter of all children lived in poverty in Klamath County in 2007.

Lake -- Twenty-two percent of the county's population enrolled in the federal food stamp program.

Lane -- Half of all low-income households spent more than 30 percent of household income on housing.

Lincoln - Between 2000 and 2007, the population in poverty in Lincoln County increased 30 percent

Linn -- A single-parent with a preschool-aged child needed to make more than $15 an hour to afford child care, healthcare, transportation and other necessities.

Malheur -- Twenty-three percent of Malheur County's children lived in poverty in 2007.

Marion -- Twenty percent of Marion County children lived in poverty in 2007.

Morrow -- Sixty-five percent of Morrow County students qualified for free or reduced-priced lunch in 2007, up from 49 percent in 2000.

Multnomah -- Nearly 30 percent of Multnomah County residents with disabilities lived in poverty.

Polk -- Among the Polk County residents identified as homeless in 2008, 78 percent attributed their homelessness to unaffordable rent.

Sherman -- Sherman County had no primary health care providers.

Tillamook -- Fifty-two percent of Tillamook County's school children received free and reduced-price lunches in 2007, up from 43 percent in 2000.

Umatilla -- A two-parent family with one child needed a combined hourly income of $16.56 to pay for basic expenses. Two adults working full-time at minimum wage did not earn an adequate income.

Union -- From 2005 to 2007, poverty averaged 16 percent for the population of Union County. This rate reached 23 percent for people with disabilities.

Wallowa -- One in five children in Wallowa County lived in poverty in 2007.

Wasco -- An alarming 27 percent of Wasco County residents with disabilities live in poverty.

Washington -- Washington County faced some of the highest costs in the state. A single parent of a preschooler needed to earn $16.90 and hour to afford necessities such as housing, food and childcare.

Wheeler -- Nearly two-thirds of Wheeler County school children received free or reduced-price lunches.

Yamhill -- A single mother with a young child needed to make $31,620 a year to pay for the basics; more than she would make at the county's typical entry-level job.

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