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Poverty, the Salvation Army, Box Fans & More

Panhandling Man

Poverty is a huge problem in America today. With the number of displaced workers, the working poor, and the cost of living consistently rising, most individuals and families are struggling to get by. There are several example of poverty in America. From homelessness to hunger, poverty in America is an epidemic that's needs to be dealt with.


Since the economic downfall in 2009 to the latest study in 2011, homelessness in America has decreased 1%. The numbers have shifted from 643,067 to 636,017. The National Alliance to End Homelessness is on a mission to further reduce that number. Homelessness in today's economy is an epidemic that's not going away.

Moreover, 40% of homeless people are unsheltered with no place to live. An episode of the PBS series Facts and Figures, addresses the issue of homelessness. They define homelessness as "a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence."

It's difficult to measure the state of homelessness in this country as many homeless people are unrecorded. An obvious sign are the number of "tent cities" sprouting up all over the US.

Why are families suffering?

  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment

Why are singles suffering?

  • Substance abuse
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Mental illness

About 40% of homeless men are veterans. This source of poverty is only one example of how people are suffering. There are multitudes of people going hungry, suffering from inadequate heating and cooling, plus poor indoor air quality.


School Lunch

There are about 50 million Americans going hungry every day. 1 in 4 children can't get enough to eat. Time magazine reports that 44 million Americans rely on the government's food assistance plan.

Feeding America reports that in 2011 46.2 million people were in poverty. 9.5 million were families and 26.5 million were people of the ages 18-64. Moreover, 16.1 million were under the age of 18 and 3.6 million were 65 and older.

Further studies show that 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households. 33.5 million were adults and 16.7 million were children.

Clearly, hunger in America is a large problem in today's economy. There are federal assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the National School Lunch Program and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. These programs have helped a multitude of families to overcome hunger in their households.

Poor Living Conditions & Indoor Air Quality

Another issue for poverty stricken families is indoor air quality or IAQ. Unless your apartment meets FHA and EPA standards, most affordable housing is unfavorable. There are several reasons for poor IAQ or what the EPA refers to as "sick building syndrome." This usually consists of complaints, symptoms, and illnesses believed to be related to contaminants concentrated within buildings. What are the causes? According to a study by Cornell University, the following are some primary reasons:

  • Inadequate fresh air supply
  • Pollutants given off by building or furnishing material
  • Pollutants from processes occurring within the building like cleaning supplies, pesticides, and off gases from new materials
  • Micro-organismal contaminants
  • Contaminants brought into the building from outside

When building ventilation is inadequate, the resulting low air exchange rate is such that there is insufficient fresh air brought into the building to dilute or flush out contaminants.

There are ways to combat this problem. First, each building needs proper ventilation, if you feel like your building is lacking in this area then contact the FHA and report any issues that might be considered harmful. Radon is a housing issue. Funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency and in agreement with the Environmental Law Institute, these organizations are working together to control the presence of Radon. If you're a renter find out if your building has been tested.

How the Salvation Army is Helping

Homeless Man & Cart

The Salvation Army is on a mission. Their goal is to help those less fortunate, maybe someone struggling from homelessness from either job loss or a natural disaster. Their mission statement is as follows: "The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination."

They've taken steps to help the less fortunate or those struggling from hunger, homelessness, and poor living conditions. Below are some examples and ways you might benefit from their services.

1. The Salvation Army offers group home living, emergency shelters, and transitional living centers that provide housing on a temporary basis for varying amounts of time. Here, you can receive overnight lodging, food, educational counseling, and vocational services.

2. Family service programs help with emergency food, housing, utility assistance, and other temporal needs that might arise during periods of economic hardship.

3. Disaster relief program provides temporary housing and food and helps in the transition to immediate recovery. This service was proven helpful during hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

4. Helps improve IAQ and prevent overheating by providing box fans to senior citizens ages 62 and older, families with infants 6 months and younger, the disabled, and the chronically ill suffering from cardiovascular disease, asthma, emphysema and people taking psychotropic and other medications.

5. Provide rehabilitation services for veterans and prisoners. The prisoner rehabilitation program provides Bible courses, prerelease job training programs, employment opportunities, material aid and spiritual guidance.

For the veterans, youth groups help to get them outside for fresh air. They're provided wheelchairs, weekend camps, large print Bibles, and phone cards to stay in contact with family and friends in other parts of the world.

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