Poverty

The four Pennsylvania school districts with the highest percentage of students living in poverty are in the Pittsburgh region.

There are 45.3 million Americans living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Poverty affects people from all walks of life, in all areas of the country, but according to several studies, people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender are hit by poverty more often than others.

“I struggle every day,” said Lynn, who lives just outside Pittsburgh. She didn’t want to use her last name. Lynn identifies as lesbian, and she doesn’t work because of a disability. Lynn is also diabetic and living on a very fixed income.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Mike Caplan and Terese Caldararo are walking through the rows of their garden, pointing out the different fruits, vegetables and herbs they planted this spring.

“We’ve got 25 tomato plants: Cherokee tomato, German Johnson’s, Rutgers. You name it we got it,” Caplan says. “And up front we’ve got peppers, bell peppers, and a lot of banana peppers."

“Different kinds of squash and zucchini: acorn squash, summer squash. We grew lettuce here. We had cilantro, we had parsley and rosemary,” Caldararo adds.

Courtesy Allegheny County Department of Human Services

According to 2010 census data, 7.5 percent of Penn Hills residents live below the federal poverty line. That’s about a third of the rate in Pittsburgh, and a little more than half of the rate in Pennsylvania as a whole.

In McKees Rocks, on the other hand, more than a quarter of residents live below the poverty line.

Based on that data, one might conclude that county services like summer food programs and job training should be concentrated in and around McKees Rocks and not in Penn Hills.

State House Committee Issues Newest Report On Poverty in Pennsylvania

Apr 28, 2014

In July 2013 State Representative Dave Reed (R-Indiana) set out to travel the state and learn more about poverty as a part of what he’s called “Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty.” Ten months later, Reed has issued his preliminary report on poverty in the commonwealth.

Reed, who chairs the House Majority Policy Committee, conducted his evaluation through hearings, roundtable discussions, and tours in rural, suburban, and urban parts of the state.

Reed says that there is one common factor.

More than 1.6 million Pennsylvanians, or about 1 in 8 state residents, live in poverty.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) believes he knows how to lower that number.

He released a report Tuesday that showed the income inequality among Pennsylvania counties in 2012.

It revealed that the commonwealth has a poverty level of 13.3 percent, which is below the national rate of 15 percent.

Philadelphia County had the highest rate of poverty at 26.2 percent while Bucks County had the lowest at 5.8 percent.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Many of us will spend the next few days with friends and family, sharing meals and opening gifts. But for the poor, homeless and hungry, the holidays can present special challenges.

“I would think the holidays … could be a really difficult time for someone who might not have family or might not have the means to provide the gifts or the food that are so traditionally associated with the holiday,” said Kate Wadsworth, public relations manager for Light of Life Rescue Mission.

The Challenges Of Suburban Homelessness and Education

Nov 21, 2013
Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA


Guests include: Elizabeth Kneebone, Fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of Confronting Suburban Poverty, Chuck Keenan, administrator in Allegheny County's Bureau of Homeless Services, Kyoko Henson, a home and school visitor for the Penn Hills School District, Joe Lagana, founder and CEO of the Homeless Children's Education Fund, and homeless student Kevin Lee, winner of a national scholarship, with his mother Tamara Williams

There are nearly 20,000 homeless school age children in Pennsylvania and that’s a small portion of the 1.2 million across the country.

Local and national experts gathered in Pittsburgh on Friday for the fourth annual Homeless Education Network Summit to discuss an issue of rising concern: suburban poverty, homelessness and the challenge of education.

Since 2000, the number of poor people living in the suburbs grew by 64 percent. And today, about 16.4 million poor people are living in suburbs, compared to 13.4 million in the cities.

Allegheny County is no different.

In the Pittsburgh region alone, the suburban poverty rate increased 15.7 percent between 2000 and 2011; while the city saw a 6.3 percent increase.

Representatives of more than a dozen local food banks and other public service organizations made their annual plea to Pittsburgh City Council for Community Development Block Grant funding on Tuesday.

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank asked for $200,000, which is consistent with what they received in years past.

Winter can be an especially difficult time for low-income families, when the cost of heating a home can skyrocket.

For the last 30 years, Dollar Energy Fund has been providing grants to people who are struggling to pay their utility bills during the coldest months.

Jody Robertson, director of communications for Dollar Energy Fund, said the nonprofit has helped keep the heat on in over 362,000 homes in nine states, doling out more than $103 million to needy families.

Increase In Pennsylvania’s Poverty Rate

Sep 23, 2013
marsmettnn / flickr

Despite being below the national average of 15 percent, the Census Bureau recently reported a slight increase in Pennsylvania’s Poverty rate. Up from 13.8 in 2012 to 13.9 in 2013, almost 1.8 million Pennsylvanians are considered to be living below the poverty line.

A tenth of a percent may seem paltry but a retrospective look at the past twelve years determines a full 3 percent increase. Associated Press reporter Kevin Begos believes that the economy just isn’t growing the way people hoped it would. There simply aren’t enough jobs for the hundreds of thousands of people looking to support themselves and their families.

Poverty in Pennsylvania has risen slightly, but remains below the national average.

The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that almost 1.8 million people in Pennsylvania, or 13.9 percent, were living in poverty during 2012. That's up slightly from 13.8 percent in 2011 and 13.4 percent in 2010. Pennsylvania's population is almost 12.8 million.

Nationally, the number of people living in poverty was 15 percent in 2012.

The Census Bureau's annual report offers a snapshot of the economic well-being of U.S. households for 2012.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Streamlining the assistance process and making it more user-friendly were among the goals laid out when state policymakers and community leaders met Wednesday at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank for a discussion about how to best combat hunger and poverty in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Dave Reed (R-Indiana) said Representative Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) approached him earlier this summer about holding such an event.

A Republican legislator is traveling across Pennsylvania to learn more about the state’s 1.5 million people living in poverty.

Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana), who chairs the House Majority Policy Committee, embarked on what he’s calling “Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty.” Reed is looking to assess the government’s role in fighting poverty in urban, suburban and rural areas.

Reed said the government’s efforts in fighting poverty need to be evaluated.

A Republican state lawmaker says the next big focus of one House panel will be how poverty afflicts people across Pennsylvania and what can be done to make the problem better.

Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana), who chairs the House Majority Policy Committee, said he hopes his initiative is eye-opening to legislators on both sides of the aisle.

Researchers and scholars from across the U.S. are gathering in Pittsburgh to create a network devoted to studying the issues of race and poverty.

About 30 directors of academic centers and institutions on race, ethnicity and poverty throughout the country will be attending the summit hosted by the University of Pittsburgh to begin Thursday and Friday in an effort to start dialogue and create possible collaborations between institutions aimed at battling social issues.

Lucia's Clay / Flickr

  Money, everybody wants it, everybody needs it, yet we struggle to understand it and to talk about it. Especially those of us who have never had much money to speak of. At this point in financial literacy month we want to take a look at money management from the perspective of generational poverty. What circumstances and financial habits perpetuate poverty and how can families prevail? Tammy Thompson is a Community Liaison and Certified Housing Counselor for NeighborWorks Western PA, she works with adults, kids and families on financial planning at all socioeconomic levels.