The American Poor

Updated on November 16, 2018

Homelessness and poverty

I live in a small town in a bible belt state. A few days ago on Facebook, there was a thread on one of the local pages about our small city making a homeless shelter. Of course there were a few for it but many against it.


In this small city I live in, jobs can pay anywhere from minimum wage to $12 an hour depending on whether it's fast food, Wal-Mart, factory job, or though a temp agency. Rent here can be anywhere from $450 to well over a $1000 a month depending on size. I was working 40 to 50 hours a week for $10 an hour. During this time I was a single mother of three school aged children. I would bring home from work a little over $400 a week after taxes. I had to use two paychecks just to pay rent of $550 on a three bedroom mobile home. I also had my utilities to pay and my electric was anywhere from $250 to over $300 a month depending on the season. That never left me with much money to take my children out and have family fun day or anything. If I wanted anything extra like that, I would have to find a second job, work about 80 hours a week and never see my children. It wasn't going to happen. Just because I was working 40 to 50 hours a week at $10 an hour I didn't qualify for government assistance. I had to buy food as well. I was barely left with enough to even buy fuel, etc. If there ever came an emergency, I was out of luck if it required money.

Of course your probably wondering why not go to college and further your education, get a degree and a better job. I do have a degree and well over $50,000 in student debt! Now you might be asking why not move? Well, I don't have the money to move. Everything I make goes to rent, utilities, food and fuel/car maintenance and car payment.

I read an article not too long ago stating that the working poor, or lower income bracket, are just one loss of check away from being homeless. That is true. Here where I live, we have the most horrible of tenant laws in the country. Landlords can evict you and you'd have to be out in either 3, 10 or 30 days depending on them. Three days isn't a long time for anyone with three children to move and when you have no family, we'd be out on the street.

Back to what I was talking earlier...

As I said, on Facebook there were some for a shelter but many against. Those against said that it would bring drugs and crime to the area. Unfortunately those things are already here whether they like them or not. They also spoke about how it's the persons fault for being homeless because they let drugs ruin their life. They apparently can't comprehend that homeless aren't homeless due to only drugs. There are many reasons for a person to become homeless. Job loss, getting sick and not having money coming in because of it (takes at least 3 months for disability to make a determination on a case and even then it's usually denied), getting out of an abusive relationship, natural disaster, and the list goes on.

I looked at my states homeless statistics. It says that there are over 13,000 homeless in this state. There are only 75 counties here and if you divide the two, it makes at least 170 per county. Not every county will have homeless people. In this small city I live in, there are around 13,000 people that live here. From what I've been told from others around here, there are about 2,000 homeless people here. I know that the agencies around here that help with the homeless run out of funding before the months end. There are at least 50 churches here and most of them do no type of community outreach. I was told that if you need help, check out the smaller churches because they are the ones who help more. The sad thing is, many of those against the shelter claim to be christian, go to church and believe in Jesus and God.

There were also comments on the thread about many of them having mental problems. Fact is, everyone has at least one mental issue during their lifetime. One woman even posted a comment to put an electric fence and make it a mental facility. Prisons don't even have electric fences cause it's considered inhumane. I shook my head in shame at the comment. Mentally ill patients come in all shapes and sizes. They would rather electrocute them than even be around them more or less.

Sometimes I think it's the education or lack of education these people received growing up that is the cause of their outlandish comments but I received the same education from the same schools that most of them went to. I have to ask myself, why do they think the way they do? I know most of them believe that social programs are bad and that it'll impede them in some way if they stay implemented or become implemented. I live in a red state, controlled by republicans. There are constant cuts to social programs here. Many people have lost their medicaid because they weren't informed of the new law that went into effect not too long ago. Many here are against medical marijuana because it's considered a drug but many here are also drug addicts addicted to pain killers and meth. They would rather hinder those in need than give them a hand up...which they consider and hand out. There was even one man who said that his church closed their pantry because they saw the same people coming in month after month to get food. Many in this area are on a fixed income, don't get enough in SNAP benefits and have to look for extra help from the pantries in the area every month just so they don't starve. I know this because when my mother was alive she received a little over $700 in disability and SSI benefits total and she had to reach out for food so she didn't starve. It's truly sad the way people think here and all over the country in regard to those less fortunate. I truly have to ask when did churches start preaching that helping those less fortunate is wrong? Why don't churches do community out reach programs anymore? Do they really think people are taking advantage or do they just not understand the persons situation and/or possibly doesn't care? I just hope none of those who were bashing those less fortunate ever find themselves in that type of situation.

I hold my head in shame at my fellow hometown citizens and many others in this country. The compassion we once had for one another has all but left most. Who are we to blame for it? How can we help those who find themselves in situations that has left them homeless or poverty stricken? I know the government has a lot to do with it, but how do we open the eyes of those who look down upon others? Is there any hope left?




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    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      22 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      "They also spoke about how it's the persons fault for being homeless because they let drugs ruin their life." - There are many misguided people saying ugly things.

      Take the commenter who posted a comment just before me who stated that: "Except for certain incidents such as being physically, emotionally, or intellectually challenged" - The statistics show that there are roughly 40 million Americans who are struggling with mental illnesses. 40 million!! So, yes except those 40 million ... #$^% the comments of these clueless people are so very frustrating!

      "Sometimes I think it's the education or lack of education these people received growing up that is the cause of their outlandish" - Certainly. Or, they hear one bad story and they think everyone is a crook, or lazy, or out to scam them personally. Or, maybe they're projecting their own insecurities and ugly behavior. Either way, I have no patience for such people.

      "I truly have to ask when did churches start preaching that helping those less fortunate is wrong?" - Those are the real crooks: the megachurches, the priests in private planes who take the little money people have and give them back empty promises. Those are the real lazy scum-bags, not the homeless people sleeping on a sidewalk.

      "Is there any hope left?" - Yes, keep your hope. I for one do not need hope. On issues like this I work with anger and I do it happily. I will continue to do what I can to raise awareness about mental illnesses, poverty and income inequality. I will continue to put as much pressure as I can on politicians, asking for transparency and accountability.

      Thank You for your article!

      May Wakan Tanka guide your path.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      22 months ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Except for certain incidents such as being physically, emotionally, or intellectually challenged, there is no excuse for being poor in America. People who have physical, emotional, & intellectual challengements are poor through no fault of their own & should be helped. Also people who fall on TEMPORARY hard times are poor through no fault at their own & should be helped.

      However, there is the OTHER poor who want, even glorify in being poor. They see being poor as a badge of honor. They don't want to improve their educational nor socioeconomic situation. They complain about being poor but REFUSE to help themselves. They want others to support them & give them a more comfortable lifestyle.

      For the most part, people are poor in America because they want to be & exhibit negative, passive behaviors. People are poor in America because they believe in immediate gratification & act instinctively instead of maturely & logically. I have observed poor people & for the most part, they don't want to help themselves. They spend their time hating the more affluent classes, even expecting the more affluent classes to socioeconomically support them. People are poor in America because of unintelligent decision making & behavior.

      No one should feel sorry for the poor in America. They are beyond a hopeless cause. The so-called social programs which were designed to help the poor only created a more indolent poor who expect that the world owes them. The ONLY way to help the poor in America is to administer TOUGH LOVE- i.e. WORK or STARVE. No one owes anyone anything!!!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      22 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I live in a 26 foot travel trailer, and drive a bicycle. Eventually the roof is going to have to be replaced on this thing, or it will simply cave in. I'm not really even complaining, I've had good paying jobs, and lost them enough times to prefer having less to lose.

      In my town most of the churches threw in together on a charity center. They certainly don't preach against charity here. I don't use any of that, however.

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