Contributed By:

Alex Johnson

The New Poverty

OPB | Sept. 22, 2011 9:06 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 10:39 p.m.

According to new data from the Census Bureau, over 15 percent of Americans now live in poverty. For a family of four, that means they earn about $22,000 per year or less. Poverty rates haven’t been this high since 1993.

Other things are often lumped in with poverty, like hunger and homelessness. But not all poor people go hungry, and relatively few are homeless. According to a report from The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, 83 percent of people in poverty report having enough food to eat, and 42 percent own their homes. This has led some, like Tim Worstall of Forbes, to conclude that our definition of poverty needs to be changed. Still others, like Suzy Khimm at the Washington Post, say the focus should be elsewhere — like on the growing gap between rich and poor.

These are contentious issues but today we’d like to focus on the experiences of people who fall within the Census Bureau’s definition of “living in poverty.”

We’ll talk to a woman who grew up on — and still uses — food stamps. We’ll also talk to the Executive Director of the Coalition of Community Health Clinics, a network of private non-profit health clinics that serves the uninsured.

Do you live in poverty? Do you think your experience is accurately reflected in the media? What do you think people don’t get about your situation?

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