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Behind the statistics lie real lives


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This month, the U.S. Census Bureau released data on income and poverty in 2011 that shows that poverty remained unacceptably high nationwide. Forty-eight million individuals or 15.9 percent of all Americans lived below the poverty line.

The poverty level for a family of four in 2011 is defined by the Office of Management and Budget as those with annual household incomes of $23,021 or less. According to the 2011 Census data, about 11.6 percent of Massachusetts residents are living at or below this threshold.

To put that in perspective:

The Crittenton Women's Union Economic Self-Sufficiency Indicator which defines the real cost of housing, child care, health care, food, and transportation tells us that a single parent, living in Massachusetts raising one preschooler and one school aged child needs to earn $61,000 to cover basic needs. Two parents raising the same two children need $68,000 annually.

So, it is no surprise to us at Catholic Charities that the number of people coming to us for food, rental and utility assistance continues to grow even as the economy continues to slowly recover.

We often use the Yawkey Center Food Pantry as our gauge in these discussions, as it serves the Dorchester neighborhood, which has the highest rates of poverty in the city of Boston.

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