Poverty: a problem close home

Amanda Escher 16′
Many Americans carry a stigma against those who are impoverished. A common thought is that people who are living in poverty do so purposefully in order to live off of government programs.

“I don’t believe it’s true, I know there are some people out there who use government programs as a crutch but no, I do not think the majority of those on government programs are doing so in order to live without working,” said Lauren Miles, English teacher.

The most common programs which act to lessen the severity of poverty include welfare, medicaid, unemployment, and SNAP [food stamps].

With these programs being decades old everyone has been asking the ongoing question, do they work?

“The idea behind programs that support those affected by poverty are positive, but I’m not sure if the programs work to help those people out of poverty,” said Lauren Miles. “I have known people and for them it worked, food stamps, medicaid, and unemployment. It helped them maintain their dignity and ability to function until they were able to get back on their feet.”

“I lived on welfare for two years,” said Rita Jordan-Keller, history teacher. “I considered that help incredibly invaluable and that it was a hand up not a hand out. My past experience with being on welfare is an asset to me in teaching. Some of the kids I’m teaching are in similar situations. There are quite a few Ridley families here who are going through quite hard times.”

It seems as though everyone knows of at least one person who is relying on these programs to help them get by hard times. Freshman Kaylee Wilson has someone close to her, who without food stamps, would not be able to put food on the table.

“I have no idea [how to help the poverty issue] because without a job you aren’t able to get any clean clothes and without clean clothes you won’t be taken seriously at a job interview and without a job you won’t have any food. No one wants a dirty homeless person in their store,” said Kaylee.

“We need more money in education, we need to apply early childhood education. In the cycle of poverty, education is the most valuable thing. People need access to good and affordable education. America is one of the few developed countries to put family and education on the back burner. People need to be involved to address some of the issues that face people living in a very hard time,” said Rita Jordan-Keller.

The People’s Emergency Center (PEC) reported 8% of high school students in Philadelphia experienced homelessness in 2011. This number doubled from the previous report in 2009. Homelessness and poverty in youths is a growing issue, especially in highly populated cities.

“Underprivileged people, kids, and families,” words senior Claudia Przybylski used when asked to describe poverty. People are beginning to acknowledge that children are not immune to the effects of poverty.

It is important to reach out with a helping hand to youth living in poverty, otherwise when they become adults their chances of making it out of poverty are slim.

“It’s a bigger problem than people like to assume that it is,” said Lauren Miles.

“The middle income level is shrinking and more people are being moved to a lower socio-economic level,” said Rita Jordan-Keller.

“I think our politicians need to wake up and realize what they are doing is wrong. We have too many people here hungry, we have children here who are starving,” said Pat Alstrom, librarian.

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