Why Does It Cost So Much To Be Poor In America?By: Tina Volpe - January 19, 2014
Experts claim it is very expensive to be poor in America, mostly because when money is tight, there aren’t many choices that are cost effective, which puts poverty stricken American’s deeper in debt just trying to survive.
One example is the necessity of a vehicle to get to work, which is practically out of reach for those who cannot save enough for a down payment. Even if the money for the down payment is attained, there is still that monthly payment that must be met, as well as gas, insurance and maintenance. And if a family has been unemployed and struggled with paying bills, many have poor credit which hikes that monthly payment due to higher interest rates, than those with good credit.
Many political figures just don’t understand what it is like being underprivileged, some say that the less fortunate just needs to work harder, take two jobs, and put their noses to the grindstone. What’s commonly overlooked are the barriers that the poor face every day.
Another major obstacle is getting into an apartment or home. It can be impossible to many who have no means, or savings, to be able to afford the move in costs. And those who are able to rent or buy are more likely to get appliances through companies that rent-to-own, which in total costs much more than buying outright because of the added interest and inflated costs.
Ben Hecht, CEO and president of Living Cities, an organization that “harnesses the collective power of philanthropy and financial institutions to improve the lives of low-income people and the cities where they live.”
“Many of us are salaried employees and many poor people, if they’re working, are hourly employees,” explains Hecht.
If you’re an hourly employee who needs to apply for benefits or even see a doctor, you’re missing out on vital pay, Hecht points out.
Another challenge that low-income Americans face is a lack of services. “If you walk in many neighborhoods they’ll have one store—it may even be a corner store and not a grocery store,” Hecht says. The competition that neighborhood stores typically face doesn’t exist in poorer areas, allowing them to charge more for goods.
High quality food and produce is also often hard to come by. “You can’t find fresh broccoli…and if you think about it, it’s a logical, rational and economic choice for people to pick fast food in cheaper and larger quantities,” Hecht explains. This leads to obesity and other health issues that end up costing individuals more down the line.
Furthermore, access to affordable high-speed Internet is either inaccessible or not affordable. The Internet provides social networks where we can exchange vital information. Hecht gives this example: “I gave a speech years ago to 500 folks who helped people get jobs and I said to them — how many of you got your job by a reference? All of them. How many of you got your doctor by reference? All of them. The power of those networks is being shut out in these neighborhoods and without the access to those types of technology.”
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