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Living Within an Obstacle Course - Barriers Faced While Living in Poverty

Living Within an Obstacle Course - Barriers Faced While Living in Poverty

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Published by sarahholtzclaw
People in poverty face a multitude of barriers every day. This white paper briefly explains the top13 barriers that a person faces, based on research and working in the field.
People in poverty face a multitude of barriers every day. This white paper briefly explains the top13 barriers that a person faces, based on research and working in the field.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: sarahholtzclaw on May 17, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Sarah Holtzcla
Director of Policy & Communications
Scott Cooper
Executive Director
February 2011
Ocially, one out o e
 very nine people in Central Oregon lives in poverty. However, nearly one in three o us arehover
ing above the ocial poverty line - lacking the necessary income needed to live decently. Whether living underthe ocial poverty threshold or hovering above it, those with low incomes ace a number o barriers that keep themrom overcoming their situation and becoming economically stable. It is an obstacle course to be traversed daily. Aneducation and a job can eliminate or alleviate poverty , but rst you have to get one o these, and that’s not so easy or many. Moreover, even i 
you are lucky enough to have an education and a job, multiple barriers can still exist toachieving economic security.
Note: we have chosen to ocus this document on barriers people ace rather than root causes o poverty. Causes andbarriers are oen the same. However, we believe that barriers are simply that
obstructions that can be moved andovercome.
1. Lw Euatin/Jb Skil
Changes in our economy have made it increasingly hard or workers with a high school education or less to earn enoughto support a amily. A person without a high school education in Oregon is 72 percent more likely to be in poverty than
one with a high school degree.
In Oregon, 91 percent o those receiving cash assistance have 12 years or less o schooling.
A wor
ker with a 4-year college degree earns 125 percent more on average than one with a high school degree.
In additionto specic job skills, the acquisition o so job skills, such as communication, problem-solving and time-managementskills can increase earnings nearly 25 percent.
However, this is the tip o the iceberg. Along with higher lietime earnings,
a college education has been shown to improve health, to improve the health o one’s children and to extend lie expectancy.
2. Lw-wage Empyment/Unempyment
As the American economy has shied rom manuacturing to service jobs, the number o higher paying jobs or low-skilled workers has diminished. wenty-ninepercent o the jobs in Central Oregon are in typically lower-paying hospitality and retail.
Additionally, much o this work is seasonal or part-time, oering little roomor advancement and little i any benets.
Tis mirrors research showing nationally,that nonstandard employment is high in nonmetropolitan areas.
Tough Oregon’sminimum wage is higher than the ederal level, in real dollar terms it is still below theminimum wage o 40 years ago.
In addition, women are much more likely to earnpoverty-level wages than men.
3. Singe Mtherho
Family structure is highly correlated with poverty. Households run by single mothers,whether the consequence o divorce or birth o out-o-wedlock childbirth, are ar morelikely to be in poverty. Poverty rates in emale-headed households are typically 3 to 4times as high as those or the general population.
According to the U.S Census, thepoverty rate in 2008 or single parents with children was 35.6 percent
, compared to arate among married couples with children o 6.4 percent.
Adding to the struggle, hal o all out-o-wedlock births are to teen mothers.
Unortunately, this also aects thechildren in the amily and their ability to rise out o poverty. Over hal o black children,a quarter o Hispanic children, and 18 percent o white children are living with only their mothers.
4. Lak  Heath r Denta Care
Health and lie expectancy in the United States are strongly correlated with income.People who live at the bottom o the socio-economic strata are more likely to be sick andhospitalized due to the compounding impacts o poverty.
Greater exposure to orcesthat cannot be controlled, such as a low-paying job, unreliable transportation and poorchildcare creates chronic stress. Tat chronic stress can be toxic, causing heart diseaseand high blood pressure, and even shortening lie span by as much as 20 years.
Approx-imately hal the people living below the ederal poverty line work;
yet they requently hav 
e no health insurance. Rural residents are twice as likely to be uninsured as their urban
Pverty ratein emae-heae huehare typialy3 t 4 time ahigh a ther the generappuatin.
Poor health and lack o insurance can create signicant medical debt. Fiy-three percent o low-incomeadults and 56 percent o moderate-income adults in the U.S. struggle to pay medical bills.
Overall, 61 percent o under-insured or uninsured adults in the United Statesreport problems with medical bill and medical debt.
Research showsthat 62 percent
o bankruptcies are rooted in excessive medical debt.
5. Unreiabe Tranprtatin
Transportation to work is a particular challenge or those living in rural environments with distant and scattered
I a person cannot reliably get to employment, that employment will not be retained or any 
length o time. Studies show that transportation is a major source o absenteeism or recently hired recipients o public assistance,
with 41 percent o his/her absences are likely attributa
ble to transportation problems.
Lack o access to a re
ivate vehicle is oen reported as the most serious b
arrier to employment or low-income persons a
nd recipients o public assistance in rural areas.
Only 1 in 4 adults in rural areas receiving government cash assistance (ANF) evenowns a registered vehicle.
And yet, rural governments nd it dicult to und and provide public transportation to thewide areas they serve. Non-traditional work hours, such as night-, swing- and weekend shis may not occur in conjunc-tion with scheduled public transportation services, and lack o transportation aects not only employability but alsoaccess to other services essential to preventing poverty including training programs, medical appointments, agency appointments, and childcare acilities.
6. Lak Afrabe Huing
Any household budget dedicating more than 30 percent o its income to housing costsis considered “cost burdened”.
Yet, 71 percent o low-income renter households in theUnited States spend more than hal o their monthly income on housing.
Te averagerenter in Deschutes County must earn at least $14.77 per hour and work ull time tolive in an aordable 2-bedroom rental
while Crook and Jeerson county renters mustearn $12.92 and $12.12, respectively.
For low-income amilies who cannot nd aord-ablehousing, homelessness is a constant threat, and or many, a reality. During the last1-night homeless count, volunteers counted 2,402 individuals who sel-identied ashomeless.
Te school systems in Central Oregon have over 1,300 known homelessstudents in their schools.
Both o these numbers are an increase over 2009 and showno sign o leveling o. Homelessness creates additional challenges because withouta home, it is dicult to maintain adequate nutrition and hygiene, seek or maintainemp
loyment, receive mail or maintain contact with nancial institutions or maintainstable relationships. In addition, many homeless people encounter unavoidable entan-glement with the legal system as they seek to meet lie’s basic needs with no supports.
7. Chiho Pverty
Child poverty and economic hardship can have signicant consequences or children’sdevelopment and lie chances. oday, 19.2 percen
t o children
in Oregon live inpoverty.
Unortunately, children who experience poverty are more likely to be pooras adults. Growing up in poverty can be harmul to children’s cognitive developmentand ability to succeed in school, to their social and emotional well-being and to theirhealth.
Many actors can aect a child’s potential earning power. It is known, orexample, that chronic stress rom growing up poor has a direct impact on a child’sbrain, leaving his/her working memory impaired.
Nutrition in childhood, as well,aects learning, growth and develop
ment, which in turn aects educational success, job prospects and uture behavioral
patterns. In act, adults who have spent more thanhal their childhood in poverty are more likely to be poor as adults.
Four out o veour
th graders rom low-income amilies are also not procient in reading,
which is a critical indicator or utu
resuccess. Te ailure to help children rom low-income amilies reach this milestone reinorces educational deciency and poverty into the next generation.
8. Lak Aces t Afrabe, Quaity Chiare
By one estimate, the cost o ull-time childcare or an inant or toddler is $580 per month, without subsidies.
Tatequates to nearly 40 percent o the income o a person working a minimum wage job ull-time. Reliable care is criticalor working parents, and high-quality care is important or children’s development. For low-income children, it can help
bridge the achievement gap between them and their more afuent peers.
Families in pov 
erty tend to use rien
ds, a
41%  wrkabene byTANF reipientare ikey ue ttranprtatinprbem.

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