Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Oxfam Shares Voices on US Poverty

Nearly one-third of Americans live in or near poverty and struggle each day to make ends meet on incomes that are fare far below a livable wage. This problem has exacerbated to an all-time high in the last two generations, leaving 100 million Americans questioning the security of their financial future. 
Since graduating into the adult world, Aaron Capurro has lived among millions others in poverty. At 28-years of age, Aaron has wavered on the edge of financial insecurity holding various odd-jobs doing maintenance work, mowing lawns, and landscaping. He also receives a social security check each month to help make ends meet. In total, Capurro earns $800 per month where he allocates $400 to pay for rent, $100 to cover utilities, and $200 to take care of additional expenses. He’s left with little to no savings at the end.
His story is one of many being shared through Oxfam’s “Voices of US Poverty” project— an effort to stimulate dialogue and give a face to poverty in the United States.
“America has long presented itself to the world as the model of successful, inclusive growth that lifts millions into the middle class,” explains Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam. “While that was true during the decades after World War II, it is simply no longer the case.”
People are living on the brink of financial disaster with almost no savings to fall back on in the event of a job loss, health crisis or other income-depleting emergency. This reality is certainly the case for people living in our own backyards.
In this year’s report released by the Corporation forEnterprise Development (CFED), Florida is ranked 47th in the country for the ability of residents to achieve financial security. In addition, Florida ranks 51st and 48th overall when considering the housing cost burden on renters and homeowners, respectively. People worry about their today as much as their tomorrow. In this state and all across the country, people are facing financial challenges that are both devastating and indicative of uncertain strides toward improvement. Offenheiser argues,
"A government’s budget, like all public policy, should not only reflect our values, but be means to an end. Fiscal policies — public spending and taxes — should focus on investments in broadly shared prosperity. That is why Oxfam — which already has on-the-ground programs with farmworkers and in poor, coastal areas — is becoming more deeply involved in addressing poverty, the working poor, low wage jobs and inequality at the national level."
As Oxfam documents the voices of Americans in poverty stories, we stop to ask how we can shift the paradigm not only to fight for the preservation our middle-class, but also to provide the best safety net for those making barely or not enough to sustain their own means of living.

What's your story? Let us know by commenting below and share your voice at voicesofpoverty.org.

Also, check out...
"FL Unemployment Rate Isn't the Whole Story" 

"U.S. Poverty: By the Numbers" http://bit.ly/18zlUNQ

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