Archive for Poverty
Tonight! Pisgah Legal Services presents a forum for donors and community members to examine the disturbing trends of deepening poverty and inequality in the United States and in western North Carolina. Join us to explore the public and civic actions needed to make progress on poverty.
Wednesday, October 24th
Cocktail Reception – 5:30 pm
Forum with Peter Edelman – 7:00 pm
Diana Wortham Theater, Asheville
Pisgah Legal Services is thrilled to bring lifelong antipoverty advocate and Georgetown University Professor of Law Peter Edelman to WNC to stimulate our thinking and challenge our assumptions.
Cocktail reception and forum – $50, Forum only – $15
For more information, contact Betsy Fedder at 828.210.3444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mitt Romney’s comments about the working poor, disabled and elderly being society’s moochers have lit a firestorm across the nation. In just a few short hours, the Republican candidate has gone to generally fumbling to flat on his face. Here are some of the reactions I’ve seen so far.
David Brooks – “Thurston Howell Romney”:
The Republican Party, and apparently Mitt Romney, too, has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view — from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers. There’s no way the country will trust the Republican Party to reform the welfare state if that party doesn’t have a basic commitment to provide a safety net for those who suffer for no fault of their own.
Jonathan Capehart – “Mitt Romney trashes the 47 percent”:
That one-minute-seven-second clip lays waste to Romney’s concern “about the very heart of America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.” Worse, it reveals it to be a lie. He couldn’t care less about them, it seems. That condescending clip shows a contempt for half the country that demands an explanation from Romney.
Fox News opinion page: *crickets*
Over at Daily Kos, Zwoof has seen a rash of chain emails about “welfare junkies” who are “drug-fueled slackers.” Obligingly, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has introduced the Welfare Reform Act of 2011 to discipline deadbeats on food stamps.
This is old news. It is Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens” (1976) revisited. It is the Lee Atwater/Roger Ailes revolving door, “Willie Horton” campaign ads from 1988. It is the right blaming hurricane victims in New Orleans’ poor, Lower Ninth Ward in 2005 for not leaving town in their SUVs and checking into Shreveport or Dallas hotels until Hurricane Katrina blew herself out. It is conservatives blaming the 2008 financial meltdown on the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. The government, you see, forced private mortgage lenders and Wall Street to fatten themselves on CDOs built from the “liar loans” they invented and sold to shiftless poor people. In the United Kingdom, it is BBC’s 2010 “The Scheme,” a series critics described as “poverty porn,” depicting welfare recipients that London’s tabloid Daily Mail calls “welfare junkies” (Well, what do you know?) and “foul-mouthed, lazy scroungers, cheats, layabouts, drunks, drug addicts” leeching off “the goodwill of taxpayers.”
A memorial service to commemorate the lives of those who died while homeless in Asheville and Buncombe County will be held on December 21 at 12:30 p.m. at the Haywood Street Congregation, 297 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville. The memorial service is co-sponsored by the Asheville Buncombe Homeless Initiative, the First Presbyterian Church of Asheville, and the Haywood Street Congregation.
The public is invited to attend. Donations of coats, hats, scarves, gloves and blankets will be accepted at Haywood Street Congregation beginning at 9 a.m. A free community meal will be held at 11:30 a.m.
The memorial service precedes the longest night of the year. An average of 20 people die while homeless every year in this community. The memorial service will include the reading of the names and stories of each person who died while homeless this year and the opportunity to speak in tribute to them.
If you want to know why I’m so focused on affordable housing, homelessness, multimodal transportation, and food security, just read this from AC-T:
Buncombe County’s poverty rate reached 17.1 percent last year while the national rate stood at 15.3 percent, according to Census Bureau estimates released last week.
That’s a switch from the middle of the last decade, when the poverty rate in Buncombe was lower than the national rate.
The number of people receiving food stamps through the Buncombe County Department of Social Services has doubled, from about 18,000 in January 2008 to a little more than 37,000 today…
Please find a way to give some time, money, or other resources to those organizations aiding the impoverished. You know there’s no shortage of helping agencies. Until we can turn the corner on jobs, wages, housing costs, and food access, it’s going to take a broad community effort to support the neediest among us. And, remember, it could just as easily be me or you.
“A lot of these people that come in now are people who have always helped nonprofit organizations,” Brown said. “I see a lot of people who come who say, ‘I never thought I would be in this situation.’”
I’m so proud of our Homeless Coalition, Asheville-Buncombe Homelessness Advisory Board, City and County officials and staff, Homeward Bound, ABCCM, Eblen Charities, Western Carolina Rescue Ministries, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and all of the people and agencies who are helping to get us closer to ending chronic homelessness. Thank you for all of your dedication to this compassionate work that so profoundly benefits our city and the whole of humanity.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness recognized six U.S. cities for their successes. You can see the entire story at Mtn. X. Excerpt:
Asheville, NC has seen a 75 percent reduction in its population experiencing chronic homelessness since its 10-year plan was adopted in 2005, thanks in part to a collaborative community effort targeting public housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness. In a partnership that began in March 2010, the Housing Authority prioritizes people on its waitlist who are experiencing chronic homeless who will receive case management from Homeward Bound for at least their first year in housing. This project has reduced the wait for public housing from 12-18 months to 2-3 months for people experiencing chronic homelessness, and has housed 61 people since it began, with an 89 percent housing retention rate. This impact is reflected in Asheville’s Point-in-Time data with a chronic homeless count of 187 in 2010 down 60 percent in one year to 75 in 2011. This is a project of the advisory board of the Homeless Initiative, which coordinates the community’s 10-year plan. Advisory board members include not only the Housing Authority and Homeward Bound, but also other community partners who have come to the table to collaborate on and resource this project: the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, local mental health providers and the local hospital.
This tactic of inducing public distrust of government is not only cynical, it is schizophrenic. For people who profess to revere the Constitution, it is strange that they so caustically denigrate the very federal government that is the material expression of the principles embodied in that document.
– Mike Lofgren, former GOP Congressional staffer
After two and a quarter centuries of progress which saw expansion of the franchise from land-owning white men to blacks, women and eighteen year-olds, many conservatives have decided they have had quite enough “more perfect union,” thank you, and have accelerated their efforts to shrink participation in democratic elections.
In recent days, American Thinker posted “Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American,” by Matthew Vadum, reflecting conservative concerns about too many of “those people” participating in government of the people, by the people, and for the people. But American Thinker‘s title says it all:
Registering [the poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.
The Future of Food in Asheville & Buncombe County:
Addressing Poverty, Public Health, Local Commerce, & Sustainability Through Food Security
The World Health Organization defines food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. Food security encompasses issues of poverty, public health, local commerce, and sustainability. Security is central to the well being of the individual and society. The measure of citizens’ quality of life and that of the city they live in can be understood in the context of their access to affordable, healthy, and locally sourced food. Food security must be a community priority if we are to address poverty, public health, local commerce, and sustainability in a holistic way.
Regional Food Security
- Fourteen of Buncombe County’s fifteen ZIP codes contain a food outlet of some sort, yet one out of every six people in Western North Carolina experiences food insecurity.
- There was a 27 percent increase in county residents that receive food assistance, up to 31,011, in 2010.
- In July 2011, 5,522 people in Buncombe County were on WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), up from 5,135 in May 2011.
- 50.1 percent of students within Buncombe County School System were enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program during the 2009-2010 school year, up from 46.7 the previous year.
- The 2010 Buncombe County Community Health Assessment found that only 58 percent of the population has access to healthy foods, higher than the state average, but much lower than the target value of 69.