I was asked to do a podcast for Umqua Bank on “poverty and money.” The first question from the interviewer was, Dr. Beegle, I don’t think poverty is really about money, is it? My answer, well it kinda is. Money determines if you have nutrition and health care. Money determines your zip code which research shows determines your economic future. Money shapes whether you attend the “good schools” or the ones that middle class people would never send their kids. Money determines if you have utilities, water, garbage service, access to internet and technology.
The average wait list for Section 8 subsidized housing nationally is 10 years. I am one of the privileged who got access to a Section 8 HUD housing voucher. These vouchers cover rent in low-income communities, but not in middle-class areas where rent is higher. For me, the voucher meant that—for the first time in my life—I would not have to worry about where my kids and I would sleep. I was 26 and had spent most of my life being evicted and living in cars, berry farm housing, and housing that was or should have been condemned.
In many of our jobs, we don’t always get to see the impact. I have the privilege of getting evaluations and testimonials about how my research and poverty-informed tools impact people and organizations almost daily. But yesterday, I got an update on an organization I worked with nearly 30 years ago. I wanted to share this story.
- Get close enough to listen to their perspectives on what would be helpful. Trust that people know what they need.
- Help Remove the Barrier.
- Ask yourself: “Is it in my hands to remove the barrier they are facing?” If it is, take action—even if it is not in your job description.
- If it is not in your hands to remove the poverty barrier, think about who in your organization or network may be able to help. Think about who in your community has expertise or gets a paycheck to resolve the issue being faced.
I recently stumbled across this article from the New York Times:
Shutting down education on racism at the federal level? Unbelievable. Keeping people ignorant helps no one. Not only do we need mandatory education on deep identity and racism, but we also need mandatory history of poverty United States of America.
Today, we are going to talk about Men, Poverty, and Pandemics. Because of the current crisis, we see more men falling into poverty—many who have not lived in it before. Men, from a very early age, are socialized to be the provider for their family. We might think gender roles have shifted, which they have. However, it is telling when a man gets startled responses when he says he is a "stay at home dad." Many men in poverty and those falling into it can not live up to what is expected.
This week was my son Dan’s birthday. I asked him what would make him smile. He said he would like the world to return to normal. I said, I don’t want it to go back to the “old normal.”
Top Ways to Help Students in Poverty During the Corona Virus Crisis
Communication Strategies to Assist Students with their Learning.
Poverty did not go away with the Covid-19 Pandemic, it expanded to people not experiencing it before and deepened for many who have been fighting it daily. Educators have contacted me asking for advice on how best help students who are no longer in school, yet still need to eat and learn. Here are some top tips that you can do right away. Stay tuned for online education on this and other poverty related topics.
Anette Carlisle, Beegle Poverty Coach and host of "Anette of education" podcast interviews me about strategies for breaking poverty barriers community-wide. Have a listen!
Here are five actions you can take to meet people where they are and assist in eliminating poverty:
Get poverty knowledge
Understand the history of poverty in the U.S.A., and how we got to where we are in our actions/beliefs about poverty. Read my research on different types of poverty and how each impacts people differently. Research and know the facts to dispel the myths and stereotypes. Study evidence based best practices that work to fight the poverty, not the people.
On the first day of the pilot Women In Transition (WIT) program, the four-member, all-women staff began by sharing their own life experiences. My 26-year-old self was amazed. Because I had only known people from generational poverty, I had never heard the life story of a middle-class person before. I learned that most of the WIT staff members lived in one house their whole childhood. They had gone to the same school for more than three or four months--which is something I had never done. I learned that they had never been hungry, nor watched family members treated badly or arrested.
Bill (not his real name) had a lifetime of poverty. He could only find work in temporary and low-paying jobs because he had a limited education from high-poverty schools. Driving was his only way to get where he needed to be able to make a meager amount of money. His driver's license was suspended many times for driving without car insurance - which he could not afford.
It was the second week of December 2014 in Portland when I called my brother Melvin. I asked him to come stay a few days to help with our Institutes. He never said "No," so he came to help us set up. He was planning to leave early Sunday morning to travel the 90 minutes to his home. I asked him to stay and go to the Christmas tree farm with us. He said his leg was bothering him, but he would go.