Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Poverty and dependency on government. More than money is needed.

Here's an article on the state of affairs in north Minneapolis where two thirds of people are on county  assistance.
Out of the many discussions about rebuilding north Minneapolis after the devastating tornado last spring, one startling statistic emerged — 68 percent of North Side residents make so little money that they receive assistance from Hennepin County to get by.    

Their ranks include LaToya Surratt, who gradually won enough hours from her employer to wean herself off of food stamps and medical insurance for herself and her 4-year-old daughter, but still depends on the county to pay for the girl’s day care.     

And Shanette Marable, who left her job as a cashier at Burger King to care for her infant, only to struggle to find a job when she was ready to go back to work.     

The high level of dependency has prompted Hennepin County to approve a project to examine the reasons behind it to try to lower the rate by 25 percent over five years.    

“When you start seeing a rate around two-thirds, you begin to understand that poverty has become the dominant culture,” said George Garnett, director of strategic development at Summit Academy OIC, whose leaders are involved in carrying out the project.    

In all, $2.6 billion for child care, medical insurance, cash assistance, and other safety net programs flowed to low-income Hennepin County residents in 2010, the latest year for which the county supplied numbers. It was a 27 percent increase since 2006. Most of that money came from the federal and state governments, though the county paid $214 million.    

Nationally, 17 percent of Americans receive food stamps, welfare, housing subsidies, Medicaid, or Supplemental Security income, according to published estimates from census data analyzed by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That figure does not include subsidized child care.     

North Minneapolis residents still comprise only 18 percent of the county’s social services clients.    

“We have to challenge the proposition that charity and welfare are the way to prosperity — the results are speaking for themselves,” said Louis King, CEO of Summit Academy OIC, who is also leading the project. 
 Mr. King's comment says to me that lack of money isn't the ultimate source of the problem.  It's moral, spiritual.  Lack of character, hope, and marriage.  To name a few.

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