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Nov-20-2007 09:53TweetFollow @OregonNews
Happy Holidays: Now Go Eat Your BootstrapsSue Grace for Salem-News.com
The plight of this Nevada journalist is a reminder of how distorted the government's point of view has become when it comes to accurately assessing poverty levels.
(CARSON CITY, Nv.) - A few years ago, I wrote an editorial about how nothing bad is supposed to happen on your birthday. It was about how when I was 14-years old, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on my birthday, November 22, 1963.
I have worked for 40 years of my life, as a secretary and as a writer/editor. I am a college graduate. And have always been able to take care of myself. I am approaching my 58th birthday on Thanksgiving.
In August, my dog was hit by a car. In order for her to have three surgeries to save her leg from a fractured femur bone, I had to come up with one thousand dollars immediately, the next day. I just happened to have a paycheck for that amount due and it went to pay for her first surgery. Now three months later, she has had three surgeries and the vet bill was over $3,000. The vet bills are paid off and now she needs canine rehabilitation which will cost another $1,500 approximately.
My resources are now depleted. I lost my income and earned $0 in October and $300 in November. Not only that but my rent is overdue and my car is gone. I am stranded in a rural area five miles from the nearest grocery store.
At a very low point last week, I reached out to the local Social Services department. I have never done this before. What I found is worse than I expected and I didn't expect much. Thought that my findings were important to share. Keep in mind that this is not about Nevada, it is about the state of our union. Many food banks across the country are running short of food because the demand has increased significantly.
There is a huge gap between state and federal and county poverty guidelines and Self-Sufficiency guidelines. To qualify for food distribution from the USDA in Carson City, Nevada, a single adult cannot make more than $18,889 a year, which comes to $1,575 a month, and $25,327 for a couple according to the Nevada Appeal (local newspaper, see link below).
Federal poverty guidelines for 2006: the amount is $9,800 a year for a single adult, which comes to $817 a month for this county. And Self-Sufficiency guidelines in Douglas County five years ago was $1,500 a month for a single adult. What this means is that anyone earning $8 an hour or less, at 40 hours a week, earning $1,376 a month, is below federal poverty guidelines, above county guidelines and yet qualifies for USDA food distribution. A single adult would have to earn $10 or more an hour to be considered above the federal guidelines poverty line.
Let me say this another way. The federal poverty guidelines for 2006 is $817 a month yet the county's guidelines allow $438 a month to cover rent, food and other basic expenses and the USDA and Self-Sufficiency guidelines are $1,500 a month. What this means is that people who come to the county can receive a whopping $438 a month and are basically left to their own limited resources if that amount does not cover their basic living expenses, rent and food and other expenses. How come the county's guidelines are half the federal poverty guidelines and one-quarter that of the Self-Sufficiency guidelines? Who makes up these guidelines?
According to the cost of living average in Douglas county, rentals alone are $780 a month here. How is a single adult supposed to live on $438 a month and why does the County penalize people for working?
Because I received $300 for two months (October and November) that amount was deducted from the $438. If I had earned NOTHING, then I would have received the entire $438.
In 1974, I earned $450 a month. My rent was $150 a month; food and gas and insurance cost another $150 a month and my car payment was $50 a month. I had about $75 a month discretionary income. But it is now 2007, 33 years later and $438 hardly qualifies as sufficient income for a single adult.
I am able and willing to work and have applied for numerous jobs and am waiting to hear about several. I have done everything that I know how to do and I am pretty resourceful. But right now today, where else am I supposed to go for assistance? Churches are stretched beyond their limits. And if a person, like myself, who does not have relatives able to lend a hand, because they are all deceased, and without a support system in place, me and my dog are left to our own devices. Which means by my birthday and Thanksgiving, we should be out in the cold without food and shelter unless some miracle occurs. If anyone is willing to help us, please let us or the Salem News know.
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