January 16, 2013
CHICAGO – One in three Illinoisans live in or near poverty, according to a new report released today bythe Chicago-based Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT), a program of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights.
“Illinois’s 33%: Report on Illinois Poverty” explores key questions about poverty: Why does it exist? Whois at risk? Which communities are most affected? And, what are some solutions? The answers point to a crisis that impacts every community in Illinois. This crisis has gotten worse sincethe recession ended and has been deepened by recent budget cuts that jeopardize the very programsand policies that help reduce poverty and hardship.
“One third of Illinois residents are in poverty or near it. Over one in five of our children are poor. And thesituation has only gotten worse in recent years, with poverty among all ages rising from 11.9 percent in 2007 to 15.0 percent most recently,”said Amy Rynell, senior director, Social IMPACT Research Center,and one of the report’s authors.
“This report provides reliable information about the scope and scale of poverty in Illinois so that our state and local leaders, concerned citizens, funders, businesses,communities of faith, and community-based organizations have a better sense of how to approach endingpoverty at a critical point in history.”
The report also profiles several people living in and near poverty. Carolyn Schutz, a single senior woman with a college degree, is one of Illinois’s 33 percent. Living in theChicago suburb of Wheaton, Carolyn used to work as a bookkeeper and business manager for nonprofits. Then she lost her full-time job, and now she can only find part-time work. “At $8.25 an hour, which is the minimum wage in Illinois, I’m only grossing $99 every week,” said Ms.Schutz. “People that I would ordinarily meet would be surprised to find out how much I’m struggling. Evena $1 cup of coffee at McDonald’s isn’t possible for me, […] to me that’s like $100.”
Rodney Dawkins lives in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. After years of struggling on the streets,the start of Rodney’s transition out of poverty came in the form of a housing voucher a federal subsidyprogram for assisting people with very low incomes, seniors, and people with disabilities to afford safeand sanitary housing in the private market. “It gives you stability, it helps you prepare yourself if you’re going out for interviews, you don’t have toworry about getting any sleep, or getting your clothes ready, you don’t have to worry about sleeping onthe train all night and then not being able to freshen yourself up.” Mr. Dawkins said. “If it was not for my subsidy, I would be probably sleeping under Wacker Drive.”
You can read the entire report and listen to the witnesses to poverty, including Ms. Schutz, Mr. Dawkins, and others, at www.ilpovertyreport.org.