Support Yourself and a Kid on $7,600 a Year?

That’s the financial reality for 20 million Americans who live in deep poverty, an Urban Institute report indicates.

Deep poverty affects nearly 12 percent of children under 6  and a third of those living in deep poverty are under 18.
National Journal
Stephanie Czekalinsk
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Stephanie Czekalinsk
Jan. 3, 2014, 11:10 a.m.

Ima­gine provid­ing for a child alone on $7,600 an­nu­ally or sup­port­ing your­self on $6,000 a year. That’s the fin­an­cial real­ity for 20 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans who live in deep poverty, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by the Urb­an In­sti­tute.

Life is dif­fi­cult for many liv­ing in deep poverty. They are more likely to have ser­i­ous phys­ic­al and men­tal-health prob­lems, dis­ab­il­it­ies, and ad­dic­tion, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Such in­di­vidu­als may also be home­less, have dropped out of high school, be func­tion­ally il­lit­er­ate, or have crim­in­al re­cords.

Those liv­ing in deep poverty are di­verse. Whites make up the largest share of people liv­ing in deep poverty: 41.6 per­cent. But blacks and His­pan­ics are overrep­res­en­ted among the very poor, ac­count­ing for 23.2 and 26.3 per­cent re­spect­ively. Blacks and His­pan­ics are also more likely to live in deep poverty: 12.6 per­cent of blacks and 10.1 per­cent of His­pan­ics, com­pared with 4.3 per­cent of their white coun­ter­parts.

The deeply poor are more likely to live in rur­al or urb­an areas than sub­urbs. Nearly 65 per­cent of the very poor live in the South and the West.

The re­port paints a par­tic­u­larly grim pic­ture for chil­dren. A third of those liv­ing in deep poverty are un­der 18 years old. Nearly 12 per­cent of young chil­dren are deeply poor — the highest rate of any age group. About 3 per­cent of chil­dren spend at least half of their child­hoods liv­ing in deep poverty — which neg­at­ively af­fects their lives com­pared with chil­dren who ex­per­i­ence poverty for just a year or two while grow­ing up. More than two-fifths of the deeply poor live in single-par­ent fam­il­ies, most of which are headed by wo­men.

An­ti­poverty ef­forts have helped mil­lions, but too many re­main poor and re­ceive only lim­ited as­sist­ance, the re­port found.

The re­port re­com­men­ded im­prov­ing the vast and com­plex sys­tem that fights poverty, in­clud­ing re­du­cing re­dund­ant ser­vices among the 80-plus fed­er­al pro­grams that provide needs-based as­sist­ance, ex­pand­ing be­ne­fits to reach all those who are eli­gible, mak­ing sure the Af­ford­able Care Act reaches its tar­get pop­u­la­tion, help­ing people build as­sets through sav­ings pro­grams, and bet­ter man­aging pro­grams that serve people with dis­ab­il­it­ies.

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