News and Tribune


March 27, 2013


Reader: Poverty is not an easy fix


Thanks again go to Barbara Anderson for continuing to educate us with her recent guest column series, and for the work she does. 

Many people just don’t realize how difficult it is to climb out of poverty. It’s easy to say “finish school, postpone children” etc. Those are good middle-class values that we expect from people who are not middle class. 

What about children and youth who have the bad luck to come from a dysfunctional family — some witnessing or victims of abuse? Kids who were never taught even basic hygiene, never got an “allowance” and have no idea how to manage money, much less a household, and who have no responsible role models to learn from. 

Those of us who have been brought up in the middle or upper classes don’t have any idea what it’s like to be in high school and suddenly find yourself homeless. I know of at least two teenagers in that predicament, who were struggling to graduate while “couch surfing” or living in a car. Fortunately, each was eventually able to get into public housing and finish high school, thanks to the New Albany Housing Authority. Without even a secure roof over their heads, how can we expect a kid, or anyone, to succeed in life?

So many people are one illness, one layoff or one major car repair away from losing everything. It’s often one step forward, two steps back. Imagine trying to cobble together a living working two or three part-time, minimum-wage jobs with no benefits because full-time work is not available, or you don’t “qualify.” These are people for whom college is out of the question. At $300-plus a credit hour, even middle class students drop out or are overwhelmed by debt before they even begin their lives.

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