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Nicholas Short of the North Lawndale News, interviewed Valerie F. Leonard on the causes of poverty in North Lawndale on May 31, 2011. His questions are in boldface, and Ms. Leonard's responses are in plain type.
-What is the percentage of people in poverty in North Lawndale today? The federal threshold for poverty in 2009/2010 for a family of four was $ $22,050. (US Dept. of Health and Human Services). The median family income for North Lawndale was $22,370 (Citydata.com website). When we say "median income", we know that exactly one half of the community's households had total reported earnings of less than $18,342, and exactly one half of the households reportedly earned less. Approximately 42% of North Lawndale households reportedly were living below the poverty line in 2008 (North Lawndale Employment Network) as compared to 21.6% for the City of Chicago in 2009. (Heartland Alliance). -What is the percentage of people in poverty in North Lawndale 10 years ago? The federal threshold for poverty in 2000 for a family of four was $17,050. (US Dept. of Health and Human Services). The median family income for North Lawndale was $18,342 (Chicago Area Housing website). When we say "median income", we know that exactly one half of the community's households had total reported earnings of less than $18,342, and exactly one half of the households reportedly earned less. Approximately 45.2% of North Lawndale households reportedly were living below the poverty line in 2000 (Chicago Area Housing website), as compared to 19.6% in the City of Chicago (Heartland Alliance). -What are the causes of poverty in North Lawndale? Encarta defines poverty as the state of being poor: the state of not having enough money to take care of basic needs such as food, clothing, and housing. I do not presume to be a sociologist, but it is safe to say that the root causes of poverty are complex, and could include social, economic, psychological and spiritual factors. A short list would include things like the inability to hold down steady employment due to substance abuse and/or a criminal history; under-employment due to lack of educational attainment or development of marketable skills; lowered family income stemming from divorce or death of a spouse; teenagers having children before they have completed their education; depression and other mental illness; government policies that provide incentives for single women to continue to have children out of wedlock while "punishing" women for having men in the household; changing societal value system that makes traditional employment less desirable than participating in an underground economy; disintegration of the family unit, and the list goes on.
The timing of North Lawndale changing from a booming community to a hotbed of poverty coincides with the Southern Migration of the 1950's and the white flight of the 1960's. People in this income bracket can afford rents of about $450. and experienced accelerated growth in real estate values between 1997 and 2007. In 2009. Only a fraction of .473 in 2000. By 2007 listings for single-family homes (over 50 years old. North Lawndale was organized in 1857 as part of Cicero Township. which included the mortgage foreclosure crisis. Three hundred units were demolished. The white population dropped from 87. By 1970.342 in 2000 to 22. The 24th Ward. However. and 1. and to purchase homes of about $64. Median home values increased from $40.200 were sold to other developers to rehab for a mixture of low income.226 to 112. The Population increased from 46.Zenith and Sunbeam in the 1970’s.261 in 1990 to $81. At the time the median income for a North Lawndale resident was $18. and annexed to Chicago in 1869. The initial growth of the community was fueled by Czechs and other Eastern Europeans. Black population increased from 13.000.000 people (North Lawndale Employment Network).370 in 2009. at about 25. Western Electric in the 1980’s. the country was hit with the Great Recession. “as is”) were over $300. and record high unemployment.000.000 in 1960. By 2008. Sears.500 units of low-income housing that were managed by HabitatBoulevard. North Lawndale families saw their buying power decrease after taking into account the effects of inflation. 75% of the businesses were closed or relocated.5%. -What is the cause of the increase (or decrease) in the number of poor people in North Lawndale within the last ten years? The percentage of North Lawndale residents living in poverty has not changed very much between 2000 and 2010. The Community bottomed out around 1995. In 2000. The population reached its record low in 2008. The growth in real estate values did not necessarily correlate with an increase in prosperity for the residents. which includes North Lawndale. It is more likely that the decrease in percentages of families living below the poverty line came as a result of displacement rather than increases in wealth. ( $18.851. Even though the median family income increased from 18. 45. 42% of the residents were living below the poverty line (North Lawndale Employment Network).000 between 1910 and 1930 as a result of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe.55 in 2009 (Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Calculator)). which moved its operations gradually between 1974 and 1987.2% of residents were living below the poverty line (Chicago Area Housing website). In 2004. This includes International Harvester in 1969.000 to more than 113.000. ranks number 4 in the City of Chicago with respect to mortgage foreclosures (Woodstock Institute). affordable and market rate housing.000 in 1950 to less than 11. North Lawndale had an unemployment rate of 26% in 2008 as compared to 8% for the City of Chicago (North Lawndale Employment Network).000. it should be noted that the unemployment rate doubled from 13% in 2000 (Steans Family Foundation) to 26% in 2010 (North Lawndale Employment Network). Additional research is necessary to get behind the numbers and get a better understanding as to why the percentage of people living below poverty decreased by 3.342 in 2000 translates into $22. At the same time. the federal government took control of 1.
. To find out about other programs. assuming a 45-year career (Robert Longley. The State of Illinois gets federal funding to run a number of programs to assist families transition from poverty.com). http://www.2 million.us/page. job training and entrepreneurship. while others were large buildings with several units. This single action accounted for 8% of North Lawndale's housing stock. The first step is to address basic human needs. on average.5 million. shelter. -What can the poor people in North Lawndale do to raise themselves out of poverty? Getting out of poverty is a transitional process. $2. only 38% of students from the North Lawndale community graduated from high school.these units have been put back on line. clothing and shelter. to earn $1. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children. The average annual salary for high school dropouts in 1999 was $18. Unless there is a major change in North Lawndale. 2010 (Woodstock Institute). This situation has been made worse by the mortgage foreclosure crisis that began in 2007. Some homes were single-family residences. I do not have data available to indicate how many people were impacted. and people with a master's degree. those with a bachelor's degree.1 million.dhs.401 mortgage foreclosures in North Lawndale between January 2007 and December 31.4 million during their working life.000 in a lifetime. There were 1. and 12% of our population. TANF provides financial assistance to help pay for food.4 million. utilities. while those with professional degrees do best at $4.Western Family Community Resource Center 3910 W Ogden Ave Chicago.000. IL 60623 Phone: (773) 522-8370 TTY: (866) 439-3716 Fax: (773) 522-8214 The most effective ways to get out of poverty include education.aspx?item=30358. A significant number of these buildings are owned by banks and are currently empty. high school graduates can expect. such as food.000 people were displaced as a result. Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.state. I would estimate that at least 4. 2010 About. and expenses other than medical.il. Still others were new developments that were never occupied. The report titled "The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings" reveals that over an adult's working life. visit the local Department of Human Services Office as follows: DHS Family Community Resource Center in Cook County . $2. or $810. In 2004. we will see our residents trapped at the bottom.
policy and advocacy and management project. family services. . 2005) A more diverse set of non-profits that are less than 10 years old (44%) Approximately 12% of the organizations have been in existence 11-15 years The remaining 12% of the organizations reportedly in existence 16-20 years. 32% are well established with large staffs and budgets. homeless shelters and clothing giveaways. or haven't utilized the services.com. We found that North Lawndale has a base of 325 organizations Forty percent or more provide youth development services. To find out more about Ms. Valerie F. http://www. Neither time nor space would permit me to describe each of the programs. The guide includes listings for some of the major organizations that provide services for people transitioning out of poverty. specialized workshops. resource and organizational development. They need to make sure that our nonprofit social service sector has the necessary support to provide basic human services like food pantries. the business community and students to make sure that the schools' curriculum is relevant to students while providing a workforce that can make American companies more competitive in a global economy.000 people in the City of Chicago who are eligible for these benefits and don't know it. What is their contact information? I worked with the University of Illinois-Great-Cities Institute to develop a snapshot of North Lawndale organizations back in 2005.valeriefleonard.-What can the politicians in Chicago do to eliminate the poverty in North Lawndale? Politicians need to develop comprehensive plans to address poverty that will include engaging parents and community members in the education of our children and improving school performance. Please find attached a link to "Casting a Wide Safety Net A Guide to Public Benefits and Healthcare Resources". This is a guide I compiled while running for Alderman as a handout to my town hall meeting on jobs and economic development. visit www.com/doc/46905526/Guide-to-Public-Benefits. Leonard is a community development consultant with a mission of strengthening the capacity of organizations to make a positive impact on the communities they serve through technical assistance. There are over 80. They also need to work with CPS. Leonard’s practice.com or contact her at valeriefleonard@msn. (University of Illinois at Chicago Great Cities Institute. and employment and training. -Are there any programs that are fighting against poverty in Chicago and the North Lawndale area? What are they? Please give me a brief description of each program. reportedly in existence for 20-100+ years.scribd.
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