A Budget in Poverty
It's an interesting exercise to build a pretend budget based on the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). In 2012 the FPL for a family of four is $23,050 annually or... $1,920.83 per month. an easy way to remember this is to imagine a person working full-time and earning about $11.08 per hour. Now imagine that person providing for a family of four.
Let's construct a struggling family's monthly budget; a mom and three kids. Small home or apartment: $700. Utilities: $150, assuming again that the domicile is small. Meals should be modest so let's assume $1.50 per meal, per person, with three meals per day: $540. No car payment; let's assume they own an older car. Two tanks of gas, however, at $3.80 per gallon: $100. Phone: $40 for one of those limited cell phones. Childcare? this was difficult. We looked for a licensed care facility, but also found babysitters listed at care.com. Lowest rate was $5 per hour. If our struggling family has one child that must have care while parent is away working, and does not have a grandma or other person to rely on, then it would cost $800. Let's reduce that to $400.
Summary Poverty Budget:
Total - $1930
Oops. We already exceeded our budget by $9.17.
Let's ponder the list. No money for healthcare, medicine, clothing, shoes, house wares, school supplies, or care repair...much less internet access, a computer, TV, movies or education. No vacation for this family. No savings either. An we didn't even consider the fact that this family pays taxes.
Here's one more point to ponder. In the scenario above, if the person made $11.10 per hour, her family wouldn't be considered in poverty!
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 76,500 people in Ventura County live below the federal poverty line. Many actually live far below that line. Their poverty budgets are not pretend. We assist about 15,000 annually.
Thank heavens for food banks, churches, United Way, shelter providers, free clinics and all of those good people who reach out to lend a hand. And thank heavens for all who support CAVC.