How you can help Central Virginia families during Poverty Awareness Month

Posted at 6:57 AM, Jan 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-12 06:57:05-05

RICHMOND, Va. — January is recognized as Poverty Awareness Month to raise awareness and call attention to the increase in hardship in America.

Daily Planet Health Serviceson West Grace Street assists the unsheltered population and those living in poverty. Taylor Garrett serves as outreach serves director for the Richmond nonprofit.

“I think one of the important things when looking at poverty is, poverty and homelessness are different,” Garrett said. “Not all folks who are experiencing poverty are homeless, and then not all folks who are coming out of a homelessness situation necessarily get out of poverty.”

The CBS 6 Problem Solvers researched the issue and how prevalent poverty is through Central Virginia.

In Hanover County, nearly 7% of people live in poverty among 111,000 people. Henrico’s poverty rate is also 7% among a population of 333,000 citizens.

Chesterfield has a 7.4% poverty rate with a population of 370,000 people. Richmond’s poverty rate jumps to nearly 20% among 226,000 people.

Petersburg has the highest percent of poverty rate based on their population size. More than 21% of people in the city live in poverty among 33,429 residents.

“I think it just speaks to a lot of the insecurities that people are facing, whether it's food insecurity, a lack of access to medical services, or stable housing. Those are a lot of things that we at Daily Planet are working to combat,” Garrett explained.

To help in the cause, you can donate money to the Daily Planet and help them continue the work they do to help the unsheltered population.

Heartland Alliance is one of the national organizations leading the efforts to address the rise in poverty.

Jen Cooper serves as senior director of research and analytics at the Chicago-based nonprofit, where she takes data and her studies to lawmakers and change makers.

“I would argue that every month should really be poverty Awareness Month,” Cooper stated. “It's really just to have this mindfulness of the communities that you live in and the people that are surrounding you, and those that are potentially less fortunate than you are.”

Housing is fundamental to exiting poverty, she said. Without the safety, stability, and comfort of a home, achieving other markers of success — through education, employment and wealth building — is much more difficult.

Poverty is also increasingly linked to disparities in life expectancy.

For instance, low-income Americans have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other chronic conditions compared to higher-income Americans.

Cooper offered this advice that anyone can implement in their daily lives.

“If you see somebody on the corner begging for money or looking for food offerings, try to keep biases and perceptions inward and be mindful of the systemic and the historical contexts that bring people to where they are,” she said. “We all have a story. We all have different experiences and so that alone anyone can do and it's super simple.”

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