If It’s Not One Thing It’s The OtherAugust 20th, 2008
by Matt Eggers
While it appears national homelessness rates may be in decline, the numbers tell a different story for the housed working poor. According to a recent report released by the Brookings Institution, which studied poverty rates from 1999 to 2005, the percentage of working poor in large metropolitan areas has soared 40% in the first half of the decade. These numbers come as little suprise in light of the slumping economy caused by a dot-com bust, September 11th, and a slow recovery. What’s scary is that these statistics predate $4 per gallon gas costs, even higher unemployment rates, and exorbitant food costs–all likely to paint an even worse picture for the working poor.
“Given the backsliding evident by 2005, and the weak economic forecasts ahead, it seems likely that we will finish the current decade having ceded some of the ’stunning progress’ against concentrated poverty we achieved during the prior decade,” says the authors.
These national figures echo what we’ve learned on a local level. Our most recent survey of guests in St. Anthony Dining Room concluded that, while more guests are housed, there are growing numbers of working poor families that struggle with hunger. Each year, in fact, we welcome more working poor guests through our doors, not just for food, but for free healthcare, clothing, job training, and other vital services.
In times like these, it’s good to know that people can still turn to St. Anthony’s.