February 5, 2013

Weekly Roundup: Poverty in the Heartland

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Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess/Food items sit on a table at Martha's Cupboard Food Pantry in Mansfield.

File photo

Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess/Food items sit on a table at Martha's Cupboard Food Pantry in Mansfield.

By Staff/CU-CitizenAccess.org

The latest report on poverty by Heartland Alliance is grim – one third of the overall population in the United States will experience poverty in their lifetimes; half of adults in America will experience poverty by the age of 65.

Over 48.5 million people in the U.S. are living in poverty, with 1.9 million of them in Illinois.

Here’s a round-up of some recent news coverage throughout Illinois that highlights the issue of poverty in the state.

Champaign County’s poverty rate third-highest in state

With more children eligible for free or reduced lunches area schools and an uptick in  new applications for LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission wasn’t surprised by a new report stating Champaign County has the state’s third highest poverty rate.

A recent article in Champaign-Urbana’s News-Gazette reported that, according to the Chicago-based Social IMPACT Research Center, 23.4 percent of Champaign County residents live in poverty. And those residents live in both the county’s rural and urban areas.

One in three living in – or near – poverty

The Public News Service examined Social IMPACT Research Center’s latest report on poverty. The study found 4 million Illinoisans living near or in poverty

The report cites low wages, lack of affordable housing, joblessness and medical bankruptcies as causes.

Possible solutions include increasing the minimum wage, as well as investing in programs that prevent homelessness and fund education.

Poverty statistics questioned

An article in The Southern Illinoisan says that local politicians in Jackson County are questioning a recent report by the Social IMPACT Research Center that calls the county the most impoverished in Illinois.

Mayor Joel Fritzler of Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University, says the study didn’t take into consideration that  the county’s residents includes a large student population with individual incomes falling below the single-person poverty threshold of $11,484.

Examining Illinois’ state of poverty and wealth

The Heartland Alliance report on poverty prompted one ChicagoMag.com blogger to look at the impoverished and the wealthiest parts of Illinois.

Whet Moser found that the poorest areas could be found along the southwest tip of the state, whereas the wealthiest part of the state was in Kendall County.