Since I started this blog I have posted here and there about giving donations to food banks. My friend Gigi runs one in Narberth as a matter of fact.
So I saw this article in The Daily Local Today. Among other things, I did not know that Chester County was Pennsylvania’s wealthiest county.
Anyway, give it a read. Poverty hides in plain sight and in this economy who is really surprised?
By LAURA CATALANO Journal Register News Service
….. Chester County is ranked as the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania and the 24th richest in the nation.
That may be a startling statistic. Even more startling: More than 6 percent of the county’s population lives in poverty, and more than 600 of its residents, were counted as homeless on a single night in January. ….St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Glenmoore recently presented a panel discussion on “The Challenges of Poverty in Chester County: Helping Those in Need.” About 50 people attended the discussion, which is the first in a series of planned lectures by the church….Among those challenges, the high cost of housing is perhaps the most significant. The average two-bedroom apartment costs $1,095 per month, according to statistics provided by Kitson-Davis. To pay that, a provider needs an hourly wage of $21.06. Someone earning only $8 an hour would need to work 88 hours per week, just to cover the rent.
When all costs are factored in—health care, child care, food, transportation and taxes—a single parent with one preschooler needs a salary of $51,853, according to “The Self-Sufficiency Standard for PA, 2010-2011,” published by the University of Washington.
“This income is 356 percent above the federal poverty level of $14,570 for a family of two,” stated a paper distributed by Kitson-Davis.
That means that people in Chester County may be struggling at a level that puts them at risk of losing their homes, but still not qualify for government assistance. Kitson-Davis noted that someone earning as much as $48,000 a year could have trouble balancing the cost of rent and groceries, but would not be eligible for food stamps.
What’s more, since the county is largely rural, the lack of public transportation poses another hurdle for struggling families. If they can’t afford a car repair, they probably don’t have access to public transportation to get to a job, doctor’s office or social service agency….The count utilized 125 volunteers and partners to determine the number of people currently experiencing homelessness on a single night. They found a total of 625 homeless, 43 of whom were unsheltered, the remaining in emergency shelters or transitional housing. Of those, there were 49 families with children
Anyway, give this article a complete read. And if you can help out, do. Paying it forward is a good thing. But for the Grace of God go all of us.