Poverty Rate Increases

By Dr. Chad Audi

On the heels of a national report showing a rise in the number of homeless families in this country, we now get word that the U.S. poverty rate increased 14.3% in 2009 from the year before. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 4 million additional people were classified as below the poverty line — for a total of 44 million people.

The higher poverty rate is a direct result of the U.S. economic recession that began in December 2007 and has affected just about everyone. People are more apt to pinch pennies to protect their future, while others are suffering through job layoffs.

Unfortunately, this year hasn’t been much better. Although The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) recently announced that the recession officially ended in June 2009, we are continuing to see more and more people needing the human services we provide at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). Regardless of economic status, everyone needs the necessities of life: food, shelter and clothing.

The economic downturn also means that organizations like DRMM must be creative in order to provide these items to an increasing number of people, while having fewer resources than ever before. According to the New York Times, experts say the poverty numbers will continue to rise through the end of this year, based on an increasing number of food stamp recipients and rising demand at charitable food banks. Some people take issue with the notion that the recession is actually over. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, one thing is very clear: It’s going to take a long time for the economy to get healthy again. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, and we’ll need a lot of patience.

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