Holcomb 1 Joseph Holcomb Professor Fish-Kalland ENG 104 13 November 2018 “Inner City Poverty” When most people think of poverty their minds usually go to those who live in third world countries, not those who live next door. What most people fail to recognize is that poverty does not know the difference between those who live in third world countries and those who reside in first world countries. In the United States, poverty can affect anyone no matter their location, but it is most prevalent in inner cities. Although in recent years poverty has been felt in all areas of the country, suburbs, rural areas etc., the poverty levels among those who reside in inner cities has remained consistent in the ways in which they are affected. Poverty has many sides that can include economic, social, and political elements. In most cases people suffer from absolute poverty. Absolute poverty is when one does not make enough financially to afford them their basic needs such as shelter, food, or clothing, putting them below the national poverty line. The federal government considers a family of four to be living below the poverty line with an annual salary of around $24,944. In 2017, the United States Census Bureau had an official poverty rate of 12.3 percent. This equates down to around 39.7 million Americans out of the roughly 325.7 million people who were documented to be living in the U.S. Locally one of the highest poverty rates can be seen in Syracuse N.Y. According to Syracuse.com, in 2017 Syracuse was ranked in the top ten for one of the poorest cities in Holcomb 2 America.Tying in ninth place with Bloomington, Indiana and Dearborn, Michigan. It had a poverty rate of 32.4 percent of its population living on or below the national poverty line. Like many inner cities across the country, the majority of those who reside in them are people who identify outside of the caucasian population. In Syracuse, 41 percent of the black community lives in poverty compared to 25 percent of white residents. The Hispanic population in Syracuse grew from around 11,800 people in 2016, to 12,800 people in 2017, drastically raising the poverty rate among them from 40.5 percent to 58 percent. From these statics alone, one can see that there is a major racial divide when it comes to those who are impacted by poverty. Although poverty impacts many adults nationwide, it silently impacts the children living in that world daily. In Syracuse, fifty percent of children ages five and under lived below the poverty line in 2017. In the grand scheme of things, this statistic is just one raindrop in the ocean that is childhood poverty. According to National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), there is around 15 million - 21 percent - of children living in families who are considered to live beneath the national poverty line in the United States. NCCP estimates the percentage of children living in poverty is more around 43 percent, by taking into consideration that the poverty standards set in place by the government underestimate the needs of these families. Albeit many of these children have parents who work, most work low wage jobs and have unstable employment leaving many of these families unable to make ends meet. Poverty impacts children on a much deeper level than just the inability of their families making ends meet. Children who are poor during their younger years of life, or those who experience deep and/or persistent poverty, have a greater chance of a multitude of risk factors. Poverty amongst young children can impede their ability to learn. It also can contribute to social, Holcomb 3 emotional, and behavior problems throughout their lifespan. Those who experience poverty at a young age can also experience poor physical, as well as, mental health issues. Many of these problems can affect the way a child learns, along with their overall outcome of finishing school. Education can play a huge role in many people’s lives. It can literally make or break one's future. With that being said, why are the most underfunded schools the ones in poor minority communities? One answer lies within property taxes. Many inner city homes are rentals in which landlords, more often times than not, pay little taxes due to the standing of these homes. The same homes that poverty stricken people are forced to live in due to affordable prices. It also comes down to the way the school districts distribute their moneys. Many times money is given to those schools that have a higher population of white students. According the one article published on USNews.com, “School districts with the highest rates of poverty receive about $1,000 less per student in state and local funding than those with the lowest rates of poverty.” (Camera, 2018) With lack of education comes the lack of good paying jobs. Many poverty stricken household incomes can be traced back to jobs that only provide a minimum wage. Which until recently was well below the amount one would have to make in order to make ends meet. With lack of opportunities in the job market for undereducated individuals, many parents are forced to be out of their homes during curtial time frames. Thus leaving children with inadequate supervision, as well as, a unhealthy family scenario. This can lead children to seek out a family structure, or a means of bringing in a form of income to help their families financially, and could lead to said children to seek solace amongst a local gang in their neighborhoods. One’s neighborhood can play a significant role in shaping the well-being of families and their children. Especially those who come from a poor background. Where one grows up dictates Holcomb 4 one’s societal norms and values that can influence their behavior. It also can teach the children of these areas what is expected of them as they age. If one lives in an area exposed to crime, disorder, and violence, it can affect their physical and emotional well-being in the long-term. It can also negatively impact their judgement as to what is right or wrong. This type of behavior could leave these children subject to a life of crime or death. For those lucky few, the use of lucky is used loosely, who avoid death while being a member of a gang, the outcome is prison. In one journal article “It Was Basically College to Us”: Poverty, Prison, and Emerging Adulthood by Megan Comfort, she states that “With the tremendous rise in the United States’ incarceration rates over the last four decades, historically high numbers of young African Americans are spending their “emerging adulthood” (as theorized by Arnett) in close contact with the penitentiary.” (Comfort, 2012). When these young men emerge from prison, many of which are into their late twenties early thirties by time of release, have a lower chance of finding jobs within their communities, again due to lack of education and also their newly found titles of felons, and a higher chance of landing back into old behaviors. These types of scenarios can be seen throughout the book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. In this story, one is shown the reality of many black and/or hispanic families. Our main character Starr Carter is one of the lucky ones. Her family is that of a middle class family, but with deep roots in a poor community. Through her story we are able to see how the lack of proper education due to inadequate school funding, looked over black communities, and the life and promise of a gang can change the outcome of so many people's lives. With all the research done on poverty, one would begin to think that it is all talk but no action. Those naysayers would be wrong though. Locally, in Syracuse, in 2017 the Central New Holcomb 5 York Community Foundation provided $169,999 in grants to eight local outreach programs. Six of which strive to help people of poverty out of the cycle. These six organizations meet monthly to discuss what has worked and what has not worked within the communities of Syracuse. There is also numerous programs scattered across the country that focus on the education and values of inner city kids that are affected by poverty. These programs provide food, a family environment, and local role models who made it out poverty with hard work and dedication. There are also some steps being taken amongst state and local governments to help close the money gap that exists with funding in lower income school districts. “Since 2015, when The Education Trust previously examined this funding gap, the difference in resources allocated to school districts with high poverty versus low poverty has closed by about 3 percentage points.” (Camera, 2018). Although 3 percent does not seem like a lot, it is a huge step in the right direction. Also for the 2018-2019 school year , NYS has awarded two low income communities, Fulton N.Y. and Syracuse N.Y. with a free breakfast/lunch program that benefits all students by being free of charge no matter a families income. There has also been a boom in programs that are meant for those who teach in poor school districts. Programs such as World Visions U.S. Programs and DonorsChoose, just to name a few. These programs helps schools and teachers by providing much needed classroom supplies, new books, and programs to help teachers learn new and innovative ways to make an impact in their classrooms and students. The public can help these districts and communities as well by reaching out. Not just to organizations that help the poor, but to their local government as well. They can also call a local school district that may be in need and ask if there is anything they can do to be of service. This can be anything from running a food drive, clothing drive, holiday drive, school supply drive etc. Holcomb 6 By more people reaching out and showing these communities that there is hope and people who believe in their dreams, change can happen. . Although poverty is felt the world over, even among our own nation, those who live in predominantly minority communities feel it on a much deeper level. They are lead to believe that their struggle does not matter. That they are alone in this battle. As one can see through the research provided, poverty is a cycle that cannot be defeated by words alone. It takes action from within the broken communities, along with those communities outside of these areas to bring about change. “A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” (Gandhi) Works Cited Aacap. Frequently Asked Questions. “Gangs and Children” N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2018. Breidenbach, Michelle. "Syracuse Makes List No One Wants to Be On: Top 10 U.S. Cities with Highest Poverty." Syracuse.com. Syracuse.com, 13 Sept. 2018. Web. 11 Nov. 2018. Camera, Lauren. "In Most States, Poorest School Districts Get Less Funding." U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report, 27 Feb. 2018. Web. 08 Nov. 2018. "Child Poverty." NCCP | Child Poverty. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2018. Holcomb 7 Comfort, Megan1,2, [email protected] EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/10875549.2012.695923. Accessed 30 Oct. 2018. "Food & Nutrition Services." Board of Education | The Syracuse City School District | Syracuse, NY. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2018. "Free Breakfasts, Lunches Coming for Students." Technology Goals | Fulton School District. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2018. Eisenstadt, Marnie. "What Works to Fix Syracuse's Poverty Problem? Agencies Will Study Their Own Success." Syracuse.com. Syracuse.com, 04 Oct. 2017. Web. 14 Nov. 2018. Sumner, Kandice. "Transcript of "How America's Public Schools Keep Kids in Poverty"." Ted. Ted, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2018. "Teacher Resource Center." U.S. Poverty Myths | World Vision U.S. Programs. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2018. "The Cycle of Educational Failure and Poverty." Stand Together. N.p., 25 July 2018. Web. 28 Oct. 2018. Turner, Margery Austin. "Tackling Poverty in Place." Urban Institute. N.p., 10 Oct. 2016. Web. 28 Oct. 2018. "Urban Poverty and Geographically Concentrated Low-Income Communities." Department of Physical Occupational Therapy. Insects of the Duke Campus, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2018.