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IMO, having a hard time paying for the necessities (housing, utilities, basic (not brand new cars) transportation, food, clothing) because you don't have enough income, especially if an emergency pops up, is poverty. If you have the income to pay those things but debt has made it hard, you're borderline.
 

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I think that poverty means not having enough to get by. Either you need to use government assistance to sustain yourself or you go into debt or you need to rely on family to help. And I think of getting by as basic needs.<br><br>
Food, not only organic or whole foods overpriced yuppie food, but basic food to eat so you and your kids aren't going to bed hungry.<br><br>
Shelter, not house payments for a home you are buying, but a roof over your head and shelter from the elements. This could be a nice apartment or even a slum apartment.<br><br>
Clothing, it may be purchased mostly at good will and garage sales, but you and your kids have clothing that keeps you warm in the winter and shoes that fit.<br><br>
Many people I would categorize as living in poverty do have cars, but this is not something that I see as a necessity to get by. I also know people who ride a cheap used bike to work 10 or more miles.
 

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I think this is a really hard question. Poverty is not having the things you need to thrive. There is, of course, a major spectrum that can fall into this definition.<br><br>
This is kind of a timely question. DH and I sponsor a girl (now teen <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> ) in Benin. We got our annual report on her today. Plan, the NGO that we sponsor her through, had this nice report with pictures of new latrines and a bore hole (for water) for the village that they built with sponsor money. She also goes to school. Our child, E, is very thin. She really hasn't grown a lot in the five years we've sponsored her. E's mother is also incredibly thin. They eat enough to survive, but they're probably both malnourished. They live in a rural farming village that is now relatively well off (they have sanitation, clean water, and limited medical care) because of Plan and foreign sponsorship.<br><br>
I work at an NGO in my city that helps people pay bills, get food, and navigate social services. Many of the people that we serve are absolutely in poverty. American poverty has a very different face than African poverty, but it still exists. There are many folks in my city who don't have enough to eat. There are people without homes. There are people who sell their bodies to survive. These are all aspects of poverty. It's not the same as E's poverty, but it still exists.<br><br>
There are some public health theories that poverty in communities with major stratification and inequality is actually less healthy than communities where most people are poor (but not starving). Stratification and inequality are unhealthy. They create a very different kind of poverty, but it's still very much poverty.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Synthea™</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7931539"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">IMO, having a hard time paying for the necessities (housing, utilities, basic (not brand new cars) transportation, food, clothing) because you don't have enough income, especially if an emergency pops up, is poverty. If you have the income to pay those things but debt has made it hard, you're borderline.</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">:
 

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Poverty is not being able to live at the minimum standard of living without assistance. This takes into account family size and income and expenses. Yes, you can have a nice $750 apartment and be in poverty... IF you have three children and a lower income, yk?<br><br>
When I don't have to stretch my food stamps to cover a month's worth of groceries, or rely on the state to pay my health insurance, I won't be in poverty anymore.
 

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A little OT, but thought I'd add.<br><br>
For those interested, I worked in an inner-city school and read the following book on the topic of poverty. It was very interesting. For those of you who like to read in your spare time, you might want to see if your library has it. It is geared very much towards educators, but interesting nonetheless.<br><br>
A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne
 

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I think it's very hard to write a single definition of poverty. Someone can, for instance, be recently impoverished and still living in the home and/or driving the car they had before the financial straits happened upon them. OTOH, someone who lives in the city may not be able to afford a car, but utterly doesn't need one and can readily afford everything else he needs to live reasonably well.<br><br>
I guess I would say that poverty is not being able to afford the basic necessities based on where you live. If you live in a rural area, that might mean a car. (No, I don't think it's reasonable to say, if you can't afford a car, you should move to a city. There are a million reasons why a person might not be able to move: moving away from ailing family, moving away from children who live in an ex's home, moving away from a job that in fact pays better than any you could get in the city, not having the credit worthiness to secure an apartment in a city, just plain fear of moving someplace where you don't know a single person, don't know your way around, don't know where to look for housing.) No matter where you live, it means affording safe housing large enough for your family (i.e. not living six people in a 2 room studio apartment), being able to afford adequate, healthful food, being able to pay for basic utilities.
 

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I used to work with the homeless a number of years ago and that work definitely gave me some ideas of what poverty can look like. For starters in today's economy most of us are only 1-2 paychecks away from finanicial ruins, the difference between the middle class and the lower class and someone at poverty level is access to a safety net. The truly poor tend to have no net and that means assets or access to assets. Those in the middle generally have some sort of net though I have been reading how more and more college educated folks are having to get assistance from their parents.<br><br>
Then again the truly poor often don't have parents who can help out. I guess I see poverty as a lack of basics like food/shelter/utilities/clothes and generally its not a temporary situation. I think many of us have times where wre are tight, right now we are dealing with a 40% income loss and its tight but I would hardly say I am living in poverty and that's despite having a rather high debt load. Despite the tight factor my needs are getting met, just no $$ for extras. Even the type of "poor" one may experience in college or right out of school is transient enough to me that I hesitate to say its poverty.<br><br>
Granted what it means to be poor in the country is changing. Most of today's poor have conveniences like tv's and microwaves that previously were not considered items accessible to the poor.<br><br>
Shay
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>shayinme</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7932561"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">For starters in today's economy most of us are only 1-2 paychecks away from finanicial ruins, the difference between the middle class and the lower class and someone at poverty level is access to a safety net.</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">:<br>
My husband and I would be broke if I lost my job, but we wouldn't be in poverty. We might even go into debt, and we'd have no extra money, but we both have parents and grandparents who would help us out, and assets we could sell off.<br><br>
Someone who makes my salary, has my house payment and bills and medical expenses, and does not have family members who could help or $45K in a retirement account - THEY might be in poverty if they lost their job.
 

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I don't think the term has to be reserved for any particular group of people.<br>
I read the other thread and I get what you're saying.. there is a difference between being able to get by (even if just barely) and being homeless or something drastic like that.<br>
I think most of the posters were using the government-established poverty line. It doesn't bother me if someone uses that word, though. If they consider themselves to be in poverty, then that's what they believe, so it's not up to me to say anything about that.
 

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Technically we live in poverty most of the time. We have one car that we make monthly payments on. We're almost never fully paid off with the electric, water, or gas company. We do some juggling to keep everything on though. We cannot really afford regular health or dental care. We get assistance for housing and lights each year. We've been off and on food stamps over the years. My Dad gave us the computers and pays for our internet connection.<br><br>
It's not all bad, and I don't mean to give the impression that we are constantly in dire straits. We get by. We eat every day (the teens eat several times a day actually lol) and we do get to even have a bit of fun sometimes. We just do the best we can. After having been homeless and truly without food we have it pretty good now. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>shayinme</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7932561"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">most of us are only 1-2 paychecks away from finanicial ruins</div>
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<span><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/nod.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="nod"> My husband seriously injured his hand at the first of the year and was off of work for 3 months. (He just went back.) We were denied short term disability and it was very difficult.</span>
 

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I will tell you exactly what poverty is...having lived in it for most of my childhood (up to about age 15 so from 1984-1992). As a result, most of my own age group cannot understand certian quirks that I have (like hoarding clothing for example) or my outlook on money/jobs, etc...<br><br>
When my mother left my father with my sister and myself, she drove away with us, a suitcase and $50. We spent the night in a hotel across from a bar that had no lock on the door. My mom slept sitting up in front of the door in case anyone tried to break in. We lived in our car until she found a house to rent for $250 a month.<br><br>
This house, the house I grew up in, was a 19th century mill house in Athens, GA (near the Oconee River on Macon Hwy that seperates Athens from Oconee County for those of you familiar with the area). For those of you who are unfamiliar, in the South, rope/textile mills would build little 'villages' around the mill so that workers could live there for around 5cents a room. Our house had one bedroom. My mom slept in the living room, I slept in the dining room and my little sister took the bedroom. THis home should have been condemned and was on the edge several times due to rats/roaches but my mom was able to get rid of most of them in order to make the house 'borderline'. The ceiling in our kitchen actually caved in (a whole about 3 ft square) due to the rats' nests in our inaccessible attic space). In the winter, we would all sleep in one room, in one bed and shut up the rest of the house...the only heat were these old metal heaters (I'll do my best to explain them, but if you've never seen one, it's hard to imagine)...The heaters are about 3-4 ft tall. About one foot off the ground there is an open 'window' covered in glass...in this window is a line of gas jets. On top of the gas jets are ceramic triangles. The heater has a pilot light and when it turns on, it comes on with a WHOOSH and the jets become little flames that heat the ceramic and give out heat.) Two of these heated our house. DUring really cold times, we would take our baths in a tub in front of the heater in the kitchen and would literally live in one room to conserve heat.<br><br>
My mother had a 67 Volkswagon fastback. We could not roll the windows up because the car shot carbon dioxide back into the car and we would die if we were enclosed in the car(seriously)...because of this, we would literally carry our blankets from our house into our car so that we could stay warm on the way to school.(FYI, I was born in 1977 and she had this car until I was around 11...This car eventually died and she had to ride her bike to work until a little while later when she was able to get a Dodge Colt for $50/mo).<br><br>
Cans that we donated during can drives came back to our house.<br><br>
We were that family that had Thanksgiving/Christmas stuff just 'show up' on our doorstep.<br><br>
My mother saved all year for us to go on vacation to the State Park at Edisto Island and camp for a week at $7-$14/night.<br><br>
We didn't have a tv so we grew up with books...we lived on library books and public radio.<br><br>
My mom perfected rice and beans, beans and rice, rice and X, salmon patties (salmon mixed with oatmeal, pattied up, cooked in a skillet and eaten with ketchup), pears and cottage cheese, peaches and cottage cheese, homemade quiche, homemade granola cereal (could be why I hate granola to this day) any variations on the theme of "will not be completely eaten in less than 2 days, but will be eaten eventually"...it drove my mom insane when she would shop and my sister and I would eat it all right away...<br><br>
I never had any idea we were poor until I grew up. None. We played in the woods, we used our imaginations, I was perfectly happy. I had nothing to compare ourselves against and was completely oblivious that I was literally living in poverty. My mother made sure of that.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MamaWindmill</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7933615"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I will have to disagree with you - just because someone decides they live in poverty, I don't think that means they do. I think there is something dangerous and faulty in the concept of being able to adopt a status that is so much more deeply affecting other people - I think there are millions of people in this country that would give their right arms to live in "poverty" if anyone was allowed to label their tight financial spots "poverty."</div>
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I suppose it's just subject to interpretation. We haven't all had the same experiences and what is poverty to one person may not be to another.<br>
I think there are many variables and 'degrees' (for lack of a better word) of poverty.<br>
I don't really put much stock in labels, but I think this especially is one that most would prefer not to have <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"><br>
Just because it's affecting others more deeply doesn't mean the first person's feelings should be discounted.. it's just important to keep things in perspective, I think <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug">
 

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You would never know my kids and I are in poverty if you met us on the street. I drive a decent car because a family member did me a huge favor and sold me their subaru for practically pennies. My mother manages a retail store and we get our clothes for free. My kids will grow up (hopefully) not knowing they were ever impoverished. (beautiful post by the attachedmamaof3 btw) I am doing everything in my power to make the best out of what we have, and just because it doesn't look that bad to you, doesn't mean you're in any position to judge whether or not my (or anyone else's) poverty can be really be called POVERTY. If we didn't get foodstamps, or get monthy charity from the food kitchen, or the low income discounted energy assistance, then yeah... I would have to move myself and my three kids into the 2 bedroom trailer down the road and suffer through the winter with no heat. But at least then I could safely call myself poor without irritating anyone.
 

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I believe that everything is broken down as either "needs" or "wants". Needs are things we NEED to live, that we cannot live without -- Food, clothing, and shelter. We physically cannot live without food to sustain us, and clothing to shelter to protect us. We need jobs to obtain food, clothing, and shelter and transportation to our jobs, whether that is a car, bike, bus, or our feet. People who cannot afford the "needs" are living in poverty.<br><br>
Wants are things we can live without but would make our lives easier and more enjoyable--cellphones, cable TV, computers, internet access, etc. People who choose to obtain the wants and cannot afford them are not living in poverty, they are living beyond their means.<br><br>
Where the line gets blurry is when people turn the needs into wants -- I NEED a nicer place to live, I NEED an expensive vehicle, I NEED to obtain an education, I NEED a cellphone. Nobody NEEDS these things to live, they WANT them. People convince themselves (which seems to be the American way...) that they are deserving of luxuries and that they cannot live without them, and when the bottom falls out and suddenly their ACTUAL needs are being compromised (power bills not paid, cannot afford food, etc) they become very anxious and feel hopeless, but refuse to face the hard truth of a solution, which is not to over extend yourself financially.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Lisa Lubner</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7934166"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I find your attitude really hurtful. Really. You would never know my kids and I are in poverty if you met us on the street. I drive a decent car because a family member did me a huge favor and sold me their subaru for practically pennies. My mother manages a retail store and we get our clothes for free. My kids will grow up (hopefully) not knowing they were ever impoverished. (beautiful post by the attachedmamaof3 btw) I am doing everything in my power to make the best out of what we have, and just because it doesn't look that bad to you, doesn't mean you're in any position to judge whether or not my (or anyone else's) poverty can be really be called POVERTY. If we didn't get foodstamps, or get monthy charity from the food kitchen, or the low income discounted energy assistance, then yeah... I would have to move myself and my three kids into the 2 bedroom trailer down the road and suffer through the winter with no heat. But at least then I could safely call myself poor without irritating anyone.</div>
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That was not at all my intention. I think I will just delete my post and drop the subject, since I am apparently being misunderstood to an incredible degree.
 
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