New numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week confirm what we see every day here at the Coalition--poverty is on the rise. In fact, it has reached record levels. It officially now affects a staggering 1 in 7 Americans. This translates to 43.6 million people living in poverty in 2009--the highest number since the Census Bureau started tracking data in 1959.
Additionally, African-Americans and Latinos had even higher rates of poverty. The Nation and NPR report:
"While the overall poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent - one in seven - more than a quarter of both African Americans and Latinos lived in poverty last year. The data for poor children is the most arresting. Nearly 36 percent of black kids and 33 percent of Latino kids were poor in 2009, as were 38.5 percent of all families headed by single moms. Stop and try to digest this data: More than a third of all black and Latino kids are growing up destitute."
These appalling numbers speak for themselves. Between 2008 and 2009, 3.7 million people fell into poverty and the numbers are likely to rise as high unemployment continues to plague the nation and stimulus money begins to runs out.
And with a rise in poverty, we are sure to see a rise in homelessness.
All of this serves as a reminder that we need to step up and provide meaningful solutions to poverty and homelessness. In New York City, we desperately need to address the ever-increasing gap between incomes and rents by creating more affordable housing, establishing living wages, and providing long-term housing assistance to move families out of homelessness.
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