Thursday, December 15, 2011

1 in 2 Americans are now poor or low income

Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."

•Study: 1 in 5 American children lives in poverty
Congressional Republicans and Democrats are sparring over legislation that would renew a Social Security payroll tax cut, part of a year-end political showdown over economic priorities that could also trim unemployment benefits, freeze federal pay and reduce entitlement spending.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, questioned whether some people classified as poor or low-income actually suffer material hardship. He said that while safety-net programs have helped many Americans, they have gone too far, citing poor people who live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.

With nearly 14 million Americans unemployed, a new child welfare study finds one in five children are living in poverty. Nearly one in three live in homes where no parent works full-time year-round. NBC's Chris Jansing reports.
"There's no doubt the recession has thrown a lot of people out of work and incomes have fallen," Rector said. "As we come out of recession, it will be important that these programs promote self-sufficiency rather than dependence and encourage people to look for work."

Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it. Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold — roughly $45,000 for a family of four — because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job. Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half of a family's income.

States in the South and West had the highest shares of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, which have scaled back or eliminated aid programs for the needy. By raw numbers, such families were most numerous in California and Texas, each with more than 1 million.

The struggling Americans include Zenobia Bechtol, 18, in Austin, Texas, who earns minimum wage as a part-time pizza delivery driver. Bechtol and her 7-month-old baby were recently evicted from their bedbug-infested apartment after her boyfriend, an electrician, lost his job in the sluggish economy.

After an 18-month job search, Bechtol's boyfriend now works as a waiter and the family of three is temporarily living with her mother.

"We're paying my mom $200 a month for rent, and after diapers and formula and gas for work, we barely have enough money to spend," said Bechtol, a high school graduate who wants to go to college. "If it weren't for food stamps and other government money for families who need help, we wouldn't have been able to survive."

About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That's up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure.

Read more here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Institute for Human Services Provider Newsletter: Upcoming Events and More!

Happy Holidays!

As 2011 begins to wind down, everyone at IHS would like to wish you a healthy and happy holiday season. We know that this is a busy time, but also wanted to share with you some of the exciting events we have planned for 2012. More information about each event will be available closer to the event date.

January, 24th: IHS Café: HR Issues & Trends in Nonprofits
February, 21st: Grantwriting Workshop
March 1st: STNED Meeting - Facebook with Sean Lucasik
March 21st: IHS Annual Conference
April 2012: Volunteer Conference
May 11th: Adolescent Health & Wellness Conference
June 7th: STNED Meeting
July 19th: Steuben Teen Pregnancy Prevention Task Force Annual Meeting & Training
August 3rd: IHS Cafe
September 6th: STNED Meeting
September 9th - 10th: NYSARH Conference
October 5th: IHS Cafe
November 17th: Rural Health Day
December 6th: STNED Meeting

Nonprofit Professional in the Spotlight
It's the end of the year, and we wanted to take the time to highlight the wonderful work of three nonprofit professionals working at three very different organizations.
Leah Hudson is the Coordinator of Education and Training at Southern Tier Hospice and Palliative Care. Learn more about her and her work.
Christine McLear is a sexuality educator at Planned Parenthood. Learn more about her and her work.
Lori Payne is the Program Coordinator for the Kids' Adventure Club Program at Pathways, Inc. Learn more about her and her work.

We are always amazed at the dedication and passion that nonprofit professionals in our region bring to their work, and look forward to highlighting more in the new year.

Help with Doctoral Research Project
The Institute for Human Services is helping to connect a doctoral researcher in the School of Human Services at Capella University with community-based nonprofit organizations across South Central New York. His research study - entitled "Cashing Out: Fund Development Director Turnover in Nonprofit Organizations" is looking at turnover intent within nonprofits, specifically the positions held by development professionals. Dr. Ray Borges is supervising the research project and we encourage you and/or your development team to participate in the research study here.

For more information or to contact the researcher, Brian McConnell, email at Please also contact the researcher directly for a a copy of the informed consent form for your records. Thank you for your help.

Welcome New IHS Members!
Reverb Ministries, Inc.
O'Brien-Adams Financial Group
Twin Tiers Region Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Are You a Nonprofit Member of the Institute for Human Services? Find out how IHS can help you accomplish your mission!

Nonprofit Member Benefits include a complimentary membership to the New York Council of Nonprofits annually! Download the Nonprofit Member Application.

Call IHS Member Services today for a one-on-one consultation - 607-776-9467 x-226.