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Oct 01 2010

Two Paychecks away from Homelessness

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

77% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

David DeGraw:

That ‘Official’ Poverty Rate? It’s Much Worse than You Think

The shocking poverty statistics released last week tell only part of the story.

September 23, 2010  While the shocking new poverty statistics from the Census Bureau indicating that a record 43.6 million Americans lived in poverty in 2009 emphatically demonstrates the severity of the economic crisis, the Census is drastically undercounting this demographic. Apparently the government’s poverty statistics are as accurate as its unemployment statistics.

   In my analysis, a key metric to judge the overall economic security and hardship level of a country is the percentage of the population living paycheck to paycheck. Anyone who lives paycheck to paycheck can tell you about the stress and psychological impact it has on you when you know your family is one sickness, injury or downsizing away from economic ruin. The employment company CareerBuilder, in partnership with Harris Interactive, conducts an annual survey to determine the percentage of Americans currently living paycheck to paycheck. In 2007, 43 percent fell into this category. In 2008, the number increased to 49 percent. In 2009, the number skyrocketed up to 61 percent.

   In their most recent survey, this number exploded to a mind-shattering 77 percent. Yes, 77 percent of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. This means in our nation of 310 million citizens, 239 million Americans are one setback away from economic ruin.

(my emphasis)

Two Paychecks Away from Homelessness

The Las Vegas Sun newspaper has done something most other papers don’t bother with. They haven’t just paid lip service to homelessness. They actually keep on printing stories about homeless people.

Roger Jacobs

   I am a 51-year-old professional writer; throughout my 20-year career I have been an award-winning feature documentary producer (“Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes” and multiple educational documentaries), a trade and arts magazine journalist, a successful playwright (“Go Irish: The Purgatory Diaries of Jason Miller”), a true crime author and a literary event producer. For the past two years, I have enjoyed my role as a book and literature columnist for Pop Matters, a popular online journal of cultural criticism.

   But in the larger scheme of things, my credentials are utterly meaningless. In less than two weeks, my girlfriend and I will be without a home in a town where we have no friends, no family, and apparently no safety net to catch us when we fall.

   I have been medically disabled for the past eight years; my primary source of income is my monthly Social Security disability payment of $926 and whatever supplemental income I can earn within the $1,000 monthly limit, but with jobs in the freelance market few and far between in the new economy, several months often pass without additional income.

Rodger Jacobs is disabled. He has psoriatic arthritis. Many of the angry people who responded to his essay told him to go get a job at McDonalds. The lack of compassion is troubling – but the level of anger is even more disconcerting. I suspect that the anger some people have for the homeless is fueled by their own fears that they are only a paycheck or two away from being homeless themselves.

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