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Poverty rate is no surprise

Published: Tue, November 15, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Poverty rate is no surprise

I am thoroughly disappoint- ed at the response generated by the Brookings report of Youngstown’s urban poverty. Absolutely no one should be surprised.

The blight and plight of our residents who are not fortunate enough to have food to eat, to have their utilities on, to have a plan for the children’s next meal or to experience just one small joy, is egregious.

I met a petite blond senior lady yesterday, at a local Home Depot, who was using space heaters to heat her home because she could not afford to pay a gas bill. She was staying in her kitchen so she could keep warm. She and I talked about how much she could afford to pay for one that would also be safe. While working my streets, I talk to mothers whose utilities are off for non-payment, people who have no food and some who are so destitute they cannot even purchase bath tissue. Where have you all been? Come with me while I work my streets and see first-hand the desolation and despair in these people, my neighbors. It is indeed heart wrenching. These, my friends, are the faces of poverty.

All your platitudes and excuses for why there has been inattention to their plight came too late. Once again, we have made national news with a negative image. Yet we expect people who cannot even meet the initial tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to volunteer to work a garden, or find a job with no transportation-no decent clothes-no soap and water? Desperation and despair go hand in hand in our neighborhoods.

Seeing a city official’s statement that said, “We’ve turned the corner with job creation...” we find a marker that identifies the insensitivity of our public officials. Was it the corner to ensure that so many would continue to be our of work? Or maybe it was the corner requiring a mother to work three minimum wage jobs, hoping to have enough to pay the rent. We can get grants for signs, projects and money for things that create a false image of our city. Why can’t we do enough to help our own people meet the minimum subsistence that any American has a right to enjoy?

Delores T. Womack, Youngstown


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