Why is there a national campaign to fight Malaria and end hunger in Africa, but we can’t speak about the poverty taking over our nation? How can federal dollars be given to these countries when American citizens are experiencing the same economic hardships? I believe it is our responsibility to address poverty issues in America.
In 2006, The U.S. Census Bureau, reported that over seven million families were living in poverty. The past several years Congress has passed a national budget that decreased or eliminated funding for the economic and social programs desperately needed. They cannot see that the cost of an unwanted war in Iraq has resulted in fewer programs; such as, rental and housing rehabilitation programs, energy assistance programs, food programs for the elderly, woman, infant, and children programs, juvenile service programs, and education programs.
The U.S. Congress cannot see the economic impacts their decisions have had on the average working family. Many Americans are losing their jobs and children are going hungry. The elderly are going without medical attention and living in dilapidated housing. Families are losing their homes due to the housing crisis, created in part by the lack of responsibility placed on lenders. The U.S. Congress cannot see the desperation of these families that have been left feeling hopeless and abandoned.
Poverty does not discriminate against race, age, or family status. In fact, the majority of people seeking assistance are one crisis away from poverty. Although my experience is limited to Southeast Nebraska, poverty affects every community in the United States. In my career with a community action agency, I had days where the need seemed to be so great that I just wanted to bury my head and walk away. I had the thoughts of, “why can’t you just get a job”, or “if you would learn to budget with what you have, you wouldn’t be in this crisis.” Then reality hit me and I realized this could be my sister, my brother, my kids, or me. I started to think about what would happen to my life if it was my job that was lost or my home that was destroyed. How would I pay for a major medical emergency? Would I be as brave as the families I saw every day, if I were the one needing assistance?
Housing, food, and fuel costs continue to rise, while the number of jobs continues to decline. The federal government insists there is not a recession and the economy is fine, yet families living in or facing poverty is increasing. It is my hope, that the American people, through public awareness and education, will come together and win this war on poverty in the United States.