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Understanding poverty and its root causes is critical to implementing tangible and long-lasting solutions. Living in poverty means there is not enough money to fulfill the basic components for aUnderstanding poverty and its root causes is critical to implementing tangible and long-lasting solutions. Living in poverty means there is not enough money to fulfill the basic components for a safe and healthy life. People living in poverty often must choose between shelter and medicine, food and transportation, or childcare and employment opportunities.
The Federal Poverty Line (FPL) was developed by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration in 1963-64. The Federal Poverty Line is calculated by multiplying the cost of the economy food plan by three and is updated annually by analyzing the Consumer Price Index. Learn more about this process here.
The most current FPL guidelines can be found by clicking here.
In Colorado, the FPL for a family of four consisting of 2 adults, 1 preschooler, and 1 school-aged child is an annual income of $24,250.
The FPL is the most widely used indicator for determining eligibility into programs that provide additional resources and services based on an individual or family’s financial standing. FPL thresholds are influenced by two factors – family size and age of each family member. FPL thresholds are typically baseline measures for organizations establishing their own eligibility requirements, but often they will work with people who are living as much as 250% above the FPL. In the example of the family of four above, they would need an income of $60,625 to be 250% above FPL.
If an individual of family has an income higher than the FPL, it does not necessarily mean that they are self-sufficient. The poverty measure established in 1964 is no longer a realistic representation of what people living in poverty are experiencing today. Many aspects of our way of life has changed over the last 50 years, including rising rental costs, access to social service programs, and affordable childcare. Unfortunately, the poverty measure has not adjusted to support those changes.
The Self-Sufficiency Standard is an alternative measure that is used to demonstrate the level of income necessary to meet basic needs (including taxes) without public subsidies (e.g., public housing, SNAP benefits (Food Stamps), Medicaid, or childcare) and without private/informal assistance (e.g., friend or relative babysitting, food banks, or shared housing). It also takes into account regional differences and family size.
The 2015 Self-Sufficiency Standard the aforementioned family of four is $64,331.
The impact of poverty affects all of us. There are tangible costs, such as public assistance through taxpayer funds, and intangible costs, such as lost economic opportunities. Most importantly, the full cost of poverty cannot and should not be captured by a dollar amount. We know that in order for our community to thrive, we need to commit to providing access to a high quality of life for everyone despite their economic circumstances.
We are committed to reducing poverty and improving the lives of people in our community. We seek to address the root causes of poverty and to prevent poverty from happening in future generations. United Way knows this important work cannot be accomplished alone, which is why we have invested in strategic, community building and collaboration that unites our Community Impact Partners to work together to change the odds of those impacted by poverty.
Situational poverty occurs through unforeseen circumstances such as loss of a job, home, or financial security. Addressing the needs of people faced with the challenges of situational poverty requires working with our Community Impact Partners to provide direct-services to mitigate the consequences of crisis. Resources include rental vouchers to remain housed and avoid homelessness, safety services for victims of domestic violence or those with mental health needs, access to employment opportunities or training, and help with basic needs such as food or emergency shelter. We are dedicated to ensuring that people facing these unexpected barriers are provided with what they need to find stability.
Generational poverty occurs when children grow up in poverty, are unable to break the cycle, and continue living in poverty through their adult lives. Breaking the cycle of poverty is complex and requires complex solutions. We know that the best way to address generational poverty is by proving a holistic approach that supports both children and families. Together with our Community Impact Partners, we provide a diverse number of resources for families including:
– Quality childcare, ensuring kids enter school ready to learn;
– Help navigating the challenges of transportation and affordable housing;
– Engaging in tutoring programs that ensure children are reading at grade level and are on the path to high school graduation;
– Mentoring programs to provide positive role models; and
– Supporting parents with job training, financial education, and ongoing case management.
We invite you to be a part of something greater than yourself. You can be a part of the change we all want for our community.
Give – Make a contribution to United Way of Larimer County’s Community Impact Fund. The Community Impact Fund directly supports the development and implementation of these solutions that will have the greatest impact on reducing poverty.
Advocate – Did you learn something today? Share this Quick Guide on your social media and start a conversation with a friend to continue to build more awareness about poverty in Larimer County. Be sure to let us know by tweeting us @UnitedWayLC!
Volunteer – Sign up to participate in Make a Difference Day! Make A Difference Day is United Way of Larimer County’s signature volunteer event that engages volunteers in impactful projects. Today, you can do that by learning about how to help local children and families by signing up for Loveland Connect!
Published: December 18, 2015
Categories: Community Impact
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