Humbly looking forward
Unacceptable Fact of the Month
In Indianapolis, the average combined cost of housing and utilities is 36 percent of a person’s income, with some neighborhoods averaging well over 50 percent. The U.S. Census Bureau considers anything over 30% a “housing burden.”
(The Polis Center)
When you decide to take on a foe like poverty, you learn a lot about humility.
It’s not that we ever thought we were going to eliminate poverty single-handedly, or in one year, or as the result of one grant program. It’s not that we thought we knew everything there is to know about poverty and its causes. We knew it was a problem that would take time, creativity and a collective will to overcome. But still…
It has been humbling to discover that poverty is even more insidious than we could have imagined.
It has been humbling to see how much so many people know about poverty—people locally and across the country—and how much they can teach us.
It has been humbling to discover the many innovative ways people are addressing poverty. It has been humbling to see firsthand the gifts and talents of those in poverty, and to see how much they want opportunities to contribute to the effort.
It has been humbling to see people from such varied backgrounds pray together for the same goal.
As we look forward to next month’s event, we look forward to that same paradigm – people from different backgrounds coming together to focus on the same challenge—and we look forward to the renewed energy and inspiration our speakers will provide. We encourage you to bring as many people as possible to the event (tickets and parking are free), so the collective knowledge and vision can continue to spread throughout the city.
As we do look forward to our next year, it is with humility that we encourage the community to renew the charge that was taken up a year ago: We will work together to roll back poverty. We will find ways to collaborate across faith traditions, across typical organizational boundaries, across political lines, across geographic boundaries… across any divides that have limited our innovation, resources, opportunities and more. We will make a difference.
I look forward to seeing you at next month’s event, “Poverty: A Community Responds.” Learn more and reserve your place here.
Lindsey Nell Rabinowitch
Project Director, Faith & Action Project
Timing is everything
A number of studies have demonstrated that poverty and poor nutrition affect school performance. A new study bring that impact into even sharper detail by showing that when a child’s family receives food stamps affects how that student will do on standardized tests. “Our main results are that scores are notably lower when the exam falls near the end of the benefit cycle and when food stamps arrive on the four days immediately preceding the exam,” the University of South Carolina researchers John Gordanier and Orgul Ozturk. Read the abstract and find a link to the report here.
Poverty and ‘othering’
“Othering,” or the process of separating ourselves into “us” and ”them,” can be more than a social issue; it can be a justice issue, according to a recent citylab.com article. Co-authored by writers usually on opposite sides of the political fence, “America Can’t Fix Poverty Until It Stops Hating Poor People” cites studies revealing embedded negative attitudes about people on the economic margins and highlights how othering “creates manmade barriers to the social inclusion and economic mobility of vulnerable people and communities.” Read more here.
Kids: Good news/bad news
Federal programs designed to help kids escape poverty seem to be helping: The number of children living in poverty in the U.S. has reached a record low. A recent study shows that the child-poverty rate fell to 15.6 percent in 2016 after having peaked most recently at 18.1 in 2012. Researchers Isaac Shapiro and Danilo Trisi of the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities attribute the drop to safety net programs—but they worry that those programs are being targeted for cuts by some Republican leadership. Learn more here.
Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson. A first-person account of the author’s work to bring justice to the poor, wrongly accused and under-represented, Just Mercy is a riveting read and an exposure of the way the system makes it hard for those who are the most disadvantaged to find justice or mercy. “The opposite of poverty is not wealth,” Stevenson writes. “The opposite of poverty is justice.”
Mark your calendar for this important date
November 8, 7 PM — “Poverty: A Community Responds,” a public discussion of poverty