Most Popular Stories
Discover News By District
CAN presents facts about poverty in Austin, Travis County
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 by Jacob Cottingham
While Austinites typically celebrate the city’s quality of life rankings and expensive condos pop up across town, representatives from the Community Action Network on Monday heard several presentations detailing a grimmer side of the city—poverty.
Chantel Bottoms, CAN program associate outlined the “dashboard indicators” of the depth of regional poverty. She told the two-dozen CAN board members that “in order to meet your basic needs, one must earn at least 200 percent of federal poverty level,” which was their definition of “low income.” For a family of four the poverty level is $21,200 a year.
Bottoms presented several charts depicting the distribution of low income in the region.
Ellen Balthazar of Any Baby Can and the Basic Needs Coalition Advocacy Committee presented fact sheets and FAQs outlining in greater detail the scope of poverty in the region. The Basic Needs Coalition is a partnership among more than 40 different non-profits and government agencies focused on “heightening the
Furthermore, Balthazar said that 84 percent of eligible households in the county do not receive any type of cash assistance from the government, while 72 percent of eligible families do not receive food stamps. She said “these numbers have been about the same since 2005 when we became guinea pig for the eligibility system for the state.”
The numbers are even startling when the metric is low-income. Approximately one in three
“In this beautiful community where we think the quality of life is about as good as it gets, there are over 144,000 individuals living on virtually nothing,” Balthazar said. Ironically, the cost of living with virtually nothing adds up for the state. Poverty costs
Balthazar also brought up the state’s number of uninsured children.
Katie Navine, the vice president of Workforce Development Services with Goodwill of Central Texas highlighted some of the current activities of the Basic Needs Coalition in its fight against poverty. The Best Single Source effort and partner agencies provides rent, utility or mortgage assistance to households in a financial crisis who are in danger of becoming homeless. The Rapid Re-Housing effort is a collaborative pilot project that attempts to place homeless and nearly so into permanent housing.
Finally, Frances Deviney and Celia Hager with the Center for Public Policy Priorities on future action that could reduce poverty. Deviney remarked that the state’s impoverished population “should be seeing an increased number of people because of increased unemployment,” and asked, “Is the system where it needs to be in order to handle this influx?”
She said a major problem with the 1.5 million uninsured children in
Join Your Friends and Neighbors
We're a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?