Monday, March 10, 2008
Photos by Sara Fajardo
Low-income workers lose ground, study says
Kate Santich Sentinel Staff Writer
March 5, 2008
The line between the poor and middle class is getting thinner in Central Florida as poverty levels continue to rise, even among those working two or three jobs, according to a new University of Central Florida study.
And a decade after welfare reform, more Central Floridians are working, but they're also spending more and more just to keep a roof over their heads."The poverty rate, no matter how you measure it, is higher," said the study's co-author, UCF sociologist James Wright. "The welfare queen is a myth. All we've done is increase the number of working poor."
The study, to be released today at a public forum at Harry P. Leu Gardens, is the first comprehensive look at the region's low-income families and the struggles they face in their daily lives.
It found that half of those considered low-income have jobs. One-sixth are past retirement age, and an equal number are physically disabled. Only about one in 10 of the poor are "idle," meaning unemployed or laid off. And people who are single, black, Hispanic, female, disabled or less educated are more likely to be poor, no matter how hard they work -- a fact that troubled those who commissioned the study."
If you're willing to work hard and play by the rules, you should not be poor in America," said Linda Chapin, director of the Metropolitan Center for Regional Studies at UCF, one of several agencies that helped pay for the research.Today, the poor are far more likely to be young -- including children -- than old. But the elderly, once the focus of the nation's so-called War on Poverty, are still at risk."For every well-to-do retiree whiling away his or her years on the golf course, there is another living on a fixed [or nearly fixed] income in a subsidized rental unit, depending on Meals on Wheels . . . and Medicare," the study said.
One of the biggest issues for the poor is housing prices, which have soared in recent years.Using standards set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, researchers considered families making $30,000 or less to be low-income and those making more than $70,000 to be upper income. Far too many in all income categories were struggling to pay the rent or mortgage, Wright said.
Some 54 percent of low-income families spend more than half their earnings on housing -- as did 13 percent of middle-income earners and even 3 percent of upper-income earners. Of course, the housing burden hit hardest among the poor, who tend to be renters."It's the people making $1,400 a month and having to put $800 into rent who are really hurting," Wright said. "The percentage of income you have to spend to put a roof over your head -- that's what really drives economic uncertainty in our region."How do people manage? According to the survey's respondents, they sometimes went without enough to eat or medical care in order to pay the rent.
Even if they do find affordable housing, a single stroke of bad luck -- such as a serious illness or sudden unemployment -- can send a person to the poorhouse.Deidra Lynch, a 50-year-old single mother from Orlando, once ran a successful small business selling henna body products. But back surgery, divorce and economic fallout from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks left her bankrupt. Now she works at a local garden center for $10 an hour -- a job she loves but which leaves no emergency fund for, say, car repairs or doctor bills for her 9-year-old daughter."None of the reasons I'm where I'm at are because of something I did -- or something I didn't do," Lynch said.
Divorce, in fact, dramatically increases the risk for poverty, the study found. Divorced women -- only 5 percent of whom receive any sort of alimony -- are hardest hit."The rate of nonpayment of court-ordered child support is scandalous, despite that having been part of the thinking behind welfare reform, that we would get those so-called deadbeat dads to pay up," Wright said.
And while money can't buy happiness, as the saying goes, respondents in lower-income brackets were five times more likely to say they were unhappy. They also tended to have fewer close friends and fewer family members in the area who could help if they ran into trouble.In that regard, though, a lot of respondents in all income brackets said they were teetering on the edge. A single missed monthly paycheck, for instance, would leave even 24 percent of upper-income families unable to pay their bills. One-eighth of upper-income families said they have no savings account."What that means is that they've bought housing they can't afford, they've bought cars they can't afford and they're maxed out on their credit cards," Wright said.
Report: Work, Wages and Well-being among the Regions Low and Moderate Income Families (PDF)
- Dear Deidra,
Congratulations on being the "poster child" for the article on poverty in Central Florida in today's Orlando Sentinel. You are a very good representative for the working poor in this area, but my congratulations are tempered by what a dubious distinction that anyone has to be recognized for something like this in our society. No shame on you, but shame on our society... ~ Jay Jury
- Poverty in not only Central Florida but the U.S. is a national disgrace. When is the public going to wake up and say "enough" to this race to the bottom, with escalating gasoline prices and a lack of affordable health care as the oil companies report record profits and the medical "industry" is also doing quite well? ~ Social Change Fan Club - Sanford, FL
- I'll quit mt bi7c66hing and moaning as you so elequently put it when I stop hearing employers complaining that they just can't afford to pay their workers more money or give them more hours (and not even overtime, just close to 40 hours per week) when the top brass of those same companies stop giving themselves big rewards even after they've driven company after company itno the ground and ruined the lives of their former employees! Don't lose sight of something- Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to succeed, the things beyond your control may go against you, and when that happens, you're doomed to fail, and that's what's been happening for the last 7-8 years for all too many of us here in the USA! ~ Low Income Orlandoan
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Roses are Red
To honor the dead
Reminding us all
of the lies we've been fed
Children lose parents
Parents lose kids
For the sake of our country
Our Government forbids
The images of caskets
draped, 13 stripes of Red
We can't see bombs either
or a dismembered leg
Yet sisters and brothers
Uncles and Aunts
Grandparents and cousins
grieving all chant
enough of the dying!
enough of the dead!
Stop the madness that's
painting our world in Red.
You started with lies
and create your own news
An endless war screamed
at by pinks in vivid hues
Fascists are winning
with each right, taken away
nine of ten benchmarks!
Our democracy's in decay
But people are waking up now
The Red rose reminds us of your lies
The Internet gives us truth and
soon the people shall arise
No more rose colored glasses
to hide the world's bloodshed
We now know the truth as to
why Roses are Red.
~ Deidra Lynch
The photos from the Iraq Moratorium, September San Diego and their pledge inspired this poem:
Nationally, this 3rd Friday in September and every 3rd Friday WE have pledged to do SOMETHING, personally and/or communally, to act to end this war. Call, write, post a protest sign, wear a button, attend a Resistance Rally, Sit in, Direct Action, Civil Disobedience - SOMETHING. In San Diego all of these things are being done.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I began calling Congress daily (well, almost daily, I'm not perfect) early this summer during our 'Focus on Nelson' call in, a Florida statewide campaign to get our senior Senator Nelson to stop funding the war. I added the other Senator and Congressional rep to my daily calls and have timed it enough to know that it takes me less than five minutes or 35 minutes a week,and whopping 2.5 hours a month to let Congress know how I feel. Much like a good morning stretch, it's worth it.
I decided to start sharing this empowering daily habit at meetings I would attend, whether peace related or not. Every time I have an opportunity to speak, like I did at the Orlando Progressive Alliance (OPA) meeting in front of 20 different organizations last month, I begin by asking everyone to take out their cell phones and dial Congress with me. I give them the Capitol switchboard number 202 224-3121 and tell them to ask for their representative. I explain that they are open 24/7 and it's okay to leave a voice mail as long as they remember to leave their zip code! Then I remind them to save the name with the number and go on with my report.
This month, I returned to the same OPA meeting and was pleasantly surprised by a report back from another group. They had done a chalking for peace at our downtown Lake Eola city park and when folks came up to see the art, they asked them if they would like to call Congress. They filmed some of the calls and had such a great response and so much fun that they are going to make it a monthly "cool thing" to do with their group.
So, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, our Congress and help spread the word! The CODEPINK
'End the occupation of Iraq Pledge' is also a great way to engage those busy people, who "so support our movement" but just don't have time to help. It only takes five minutes a week to be counted and make a difference. ring, ring, ring, ring, ring
Friday, September 14, 2007
Daily US Death Count http://icasualties.org/oif/
Female Death Count http://icasualties.org/oif/Female.aspx
Florida Nelson campaign: http://www.codepinkalert.org/focusonnelson
Senator Bill Nelson (D)
News clip from meeting with Senator Nelson: http://codepinkflorida.blogspot.com/2007/08/ch2-wesh-news-report.html
email form: http://billnelson.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm
COST OF WAR: http://www.nationalpriorities.org/Cost-of-War/Cost-of-War-3.html
Putting the cost of war in perspective: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2007/01/17/business/20070117_LEONHARDT_GRAPHIC.html
My PINK Journey to Peace
My trip to DC for Mother's Day: http://codepinkdc.blogspot.com/2007/06/florida-campaign-born-during-mothers.html
Roll Call Article about CODEPINK the day before we returned: http://www.codepink4peace.org/article.php?id=3079
Washington Post article about the CODEPINK House:
Photos from Washington Post Style Section: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/gallery/070608/GAL-07Jun08-77402/index.html
CODEPINK DC Blog! To find out the latest actions that have happened at the house:
Here are some other ways to get involved with CODEPINK :
Action Guides & Checklists / CODEPINK Flyers: http://www.codepinkalert.org/article.php?list=type&type=80
Direct Action and Street Theater: http://www.codepinkalert.org/article.php?id=330
Banner Drop Instructions: http://www.codepinkalert.org/downloads/L.A.BannerDropping.pdf
READ THIS Excellent anthology: "Stop the Next War Now!"
With an anthology of incredible stories, articles, and poetry, "Stop the Next War Now" provides a lens to study the current state of the world and practical strategies to resist. Request professors or instructors in your college or high school campus to incorporate CODEPINK 's "Stop the Next War Now" book into their curriculum. Click here for a sample letter you can send to your professors and instructors about the "Stop the Next War Now" book. Also include our CODEPINK Student Handbook.
Become a CODEPINK intern! Our interns are essential to the success and powerful pinkness of CODEPINK! If you would like to be a CODEPINK intern please download the intern application (and please specify the city you are interested working in- Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York or Washington, D.C.) and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Thyme, Dill Basil, Rosemary, Chives
& Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Lauren Mitchell* Sings to Dubya: "Dear Mr. President!" in DC
before the Mother's Day March from the Whitehouse to the Capitol with Cindy Sheehan.
PINK's LIVE version of her song that radio stations in America will NOT play even though it's the NUMBER ONE song in the world as of August 2007!
Ani DiFranco- Our Next Bold Move
John Mellencamp - Our Country(stream song/video)
*Lauren Mitchell was one of the musical performers at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Park, opposite the White House, on May 14, 2007. Ms. Mitchell is from Sarasota, FL. She is a Peace activist and organizer with the CODEPINK organization in her home state. She told me as the demonstrators from the park were marching on the U.S. Capitol, that the author of the song, "Dear Mr. President," is "PINK." Ms. Mitchell was introduced to the crowd at Lafayette Park by CODEPINK's leader, Medea Benjamin.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Florida For Peace, a state wide coalition of peace groups including
CODEPINK Florida and local chapters, Military Families Speak Out,
Vets for Peace, Raging Grannies, Artists for Peace, Environmental &
Peace Education Center, GI Rights, Peace NOW and Tallahassee Network
for Peace and Justice met Tuesday, August 7th with Senator Bill Nelson!
TV Coverage at NOON from WESH TV, Orlando.
snap, snap, snap
tap, tap, snap
believing in what I can not see
believing in the mystery
snap, snap, snap
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
Sunday, May 27, 2007