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U.S. Census: High OH Poverty Numbers Prompt Call for Action in Congress

August 29, 2007

Columbus, OH – New U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday show well over a million Ohioans still live in poverty, one-half million of them are children. That's not much change since the last such report, but ongoing foreclosure problems and growing health care costs threaten to make those numbers worse.

A coalition of nonprofit groups insists there are proven ways to help families get back on their feet, and is calling on Ohio’s Congressional delegation to take action in light of the new figures. Ericka Thoms with the Center for Community Solutions says Congress needs to invest in job training, and also to give families a helping hand by boosting the availability and amounts of children’s health insurance and food stamps.

"Both of those are incredibly beneficial, time-proven supports for families trying to work their way out of poverty."

Thoms says poverty isn’t always a top priority for political leaders or for the public at large, because most feel a sense that, in her words, “It can’t happen to me.” However, she points out that many who are now living in poverty thought it couldn’t happen to them, either.

"People are losing jobs or losing health insurance, which then leads to bankruptcy and foreclosure. Many people who are there, never thought that they’d get there."

For a family of four, poverty means living on just over $20,000 a year, a figure Thoms says doesn’t go far to meet the costs of housing, food, fuel and health care.

Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OH