Displaying items by tag: poverty - No More Poverty
Wednesday, 09 September 2015 17:59

Poor Americans in Poor Health

In today’s blog, Dr. Michael Omidi discusses some of the underlying factors that cause many impoverished Americans to suffer poor health.

Income

In March, NPR polled high, medium, and low-income Americans to gauge perceptions on what affects their mental and physical well-being. One third of respondents with a household income below $25,000 indicated that a lack of money has negatively affected their health.

Employment

A 2014 University of Albany study found that losing a job increased a person’s odds of developing stress-related conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or stroke, by 83 percent. It was also indicated in the same study that blue-collar workers were more likely to get laid off due to health-related issues than white-collar workers.

Housing

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, income has declined as rent continues to rise. Those seeking public housing are often faced with excessively long waits, which means that they must “remain in shelters or inadequate housing arrangements longer.” Impoverished neighborhoods are also more likely to have higher rates of crime, which not only increases stress, but is also an extremely negative environment for children who have no other choice but to live there.

Wage-Garnishing

Over the past decade, there has been a suspiciously rapid increase in wage garnishment by credit card companies and, surprisingly, nonprofit hospitals. NPR reports an “explosion” of cases like these in which hospitals’ debt collection services will sue lower-income patients for failing to cover medical bills. Heartland, for example, has garnished the wages of over 6,000 people between 2009 and 2013, charging the maximum interest rates allowed under state law. More than two thirds of these patients were uninsured.

Food

According to the USDA, nearly 15 percent of U.S. households lacked enough food “for an active, healthy lifestyle for all household members.” In many cases, especially in urban areas, not getting enough food isn’t the only problem. Many of these areas are considered food deserts, which are marked by a complete lack of access to fresh produce typically found in traditional grocery stores or markets. Instead, residents of impoverished communities are forced to buy food solely from corner stores or convenience stores, which offer nutrient-deficient foods laden with saturated fat and sugar.

 

Yours in health,

Dr. Michael Omidi

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 20:27

The Criminalization of Poverty

In today’s entry, Dr. Michael Omidi discusses the problem of jailing the poor over their inability to pay fines.

A troubling case earlier this year has called attention to a major societal issue: jailing the poor for failing to pay traffic tickets and other small fines. In January, Missouri resident Edward Brown found his deteriorating home of 25 years condemned by the city, who then sent him a $464 citation for trespassing after he remained in the property. Brown was living off of food stamps and Social Security checks, and was not able to afford to pay the fine—so he has been jailed several times since then.

Issuing arrest warrants for low-level misdemeanor violations has become a shockingly common occurrence in the U.S. as of late. Residents of impoverished communities are finding it increasingly difficult to escape the cycle of poverty under this legislature. Despite local activists’ call for reform over the past decade, no significant changes have been made on a national scale.

One rather unfortunate example is that of Nashville resident Stacey Tuell, who was living out of his car in 2013 and was arrested for a misdemeanor. While in custody, police refused his request to have someone watch his car—which was promptly towed and destroyed by the time he was able to make an attempt to retrieve it. Tuell sued, claiming his constitutional rights were violated, but the case was thrown out.

Many claim that criminalizing the poor is an underhanded way of ensuring a steady stream of city revenue—and at what cost? In May, the National Association of Public Defenders called for the reform of “predatory” criminal court practices in an official statement, some points of which are as follows:

  • Treating fines as civil cases, not criminal cases
  • Providing legal representation to indigent defendants in municipal cases
  • Factoring in a defendant’s income and financial situation before treating nonpayment of a fine as a crime
  • Ending the monetary bond

Yours in health,

Dr. Michael Omidi

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 12 August 2015 19:29

The Problem of Concentrated Poverty

Dr. Michael Omidi discusses recent findings that define the most concentrated areas of poverty in the U.S.

A 2014 City Observatory analysis by Joe Cortright examines census data over the past several decades in impoverished areas. Findings suggest that as of 2010, 750 urban areas still had a poverty rate twice the national average—out of 1,100 urban census tracts designated as “high poverty” in 1970. These areas are areas in which poverty is concentrated, and apparently has been since the latter half of the previous century. Concentrated poverty areas are neighborhoods in which 40 percent or more of residents fall below the federal poverty threshold.

A recent Century Foundation study also utilized census data as well as the American Community Survey to examine the changes in these areas of concentrated poverty from 1990 to 2013. They found that during this time, the amount of people living in these areas actually doubled—from 7.2 million to 13.8 million.

These findings suggest that environment is extremely influential to one’s likelihood of attaining personal success. Simply put, those in poor neighborhoods will find it much more difficult to get ahead—and vice versa. Cortright says, “It has become commonplace to observe that a person’s life chances can be statistically explained by their ZIP code.” And this observation doesn’t just apply to urban areas; concentrated poverty has been slowly spreading to the suburbs over the past decade.

Paul Jagrowski, author of the Century Foundation study, suggest two methods which he believes will most effectively reverse the growing poverty rates: 1) for the government to “implement controls over suburban development that can ensure that new housing construction is in line with the growth of a metro population,” and 2) that these controls will ensure that houses are being constructed in direct proportion to the population growth.

Yours in health,

Dr. Michael Omidi

Published in Blog

Michael Omidi discusses PEW research that shows a decline in poverty over the past decade.

From 2001 to 2011, nearly 700 million people stepped out from poverty, though many still were barely scraping by. This rise always came with an increase in the global middle class. All of this is from recent PEW research.

According to the research, those considered poor are people living on $2.00 or less a day. The global population in 2001 living in poverty was 29%. That declined to 15% in 2011. While those considered low income, living on $2 to $10 a day, increased from 50% to 56%.

The middle class was classified as people living on $10 to $20 a day, which was 5 times the poverty line used in the study. This of course is within the poverty line of the US, which is living on $15.77 a day for a 4 person household. Researchers feel the $10 threshold globally begins to insulate those from falling back into poverty, based on findings in Latin America. Where in Mexico, Chile and Peru people only have a 10% likeliness of falling into poverty if their per capita incomes is $10.00 a day.

China's growth stood out remarkably. The middle income grew from 3% in 2001 to 15% in 2011. A total of 203 million people passed to the middle income level of $10 a day in that time. China, which accounts for 20% of the world's population, accounted for one-in-two additions to the global middle income population. Far superior than most other countries in Asian and throughout the world. The greater population of Asia combined accounted for the largest growth of middle income compared to other continents.

Only 16% of the world's population lived at the high level of the income scale. Up only 2% from 2001. These were largely people from advanced economies. In the US, median daily income per capita was $56 dollars a day. A total of 88% of the American population lived off of more than $20 a day.

It shows that some progress is being made worldwide. The UN recently announced an initiative to try to eradicate global poverty over the next 15 years. If they are able to accomplish that, it will be a huge success for humanity. The more we are able to create a dialogue on poverty and brain storm solutions, the quicker we can reduce the affects and create a more sustainable future for humanity as a whole.

Yours in health,

Michael Omidi

Michael Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty a nonprofit that advocates of the elimination of poverty throughout the world.

Published in Blog

Dr. Michael Omidi discusses the problem of income inequality in the U.S.

According to the last U.S. Census, 45.3 million Americans are officially impoverished. However, research suggests that this number may be somewhat misleading.

Mark Rank, social welfare professor at Washington University, and Thomas Hirschl, development sociology professor at Cornell, recently published a long-term study conducted from 1968 to 2011 which focuses on poverty. Their research has revealed that between the ages of 25 and 60, three out of five Americans will live at least one full year in poverty. That’s not even the most shocking part, either: researchers go on to say that 24.9 percent of the population will experience more than five years of poverty, and 42.1 percent will experience extreme poverty.

Rank also suggests that his and Hirschl’s research “indicate[s] that across the American life course there is a large amount of income volatility.” Out of 27 countries that are considered “high income,” the U.S. ranks 27th in median wealth per adult. We also rank 4th on the scale of severe income inequality in the world, according to World Bank statistics.

Rank claimed that in existing research on the subject, there has been a problematic lack of emphasis on relative poverty rather than absolute poverty. He defines relative poverty as a measure of depravation, whereas most would define poverty from a needs-based standard. For example, someone suffering from absolute poverty does not have enough money to cover basic needs in order to survive. Relative poverty, however, is when someone is poor in the context of those around them.

Current statistics (with the exception of this study) use absolute standards. Many argue that this severely underestimates the amount of people actually living in poverty, as it places impoverished Americans on the same scale as impoverished citizens of third-world countries. And when one considers factors such as the extremely high cost of living in many U.S. cities, it becomes even clearer that income inequality is one of the strongest reasons for growing poverty rates.

Yours in health,

Michael Omidi

Dr. Michael Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty, a nonprofit that advocates to change poverty in America and around the world.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 22 July 2015 20:39

Kids Brains Hurt by Poverty

Dr. Michael Omidi discusses new research that highlights the true damage poverty causes a child's brain.

Poverty has been widely associated with lower academic performance for children. The longer a child lives in poverty, often the more they fall behind with an academic deficit. A study published on Monday by JAMA Pediatrics wanted to see if there was a correlation between poverty and lower academic performance because of atypical patterns of structural brain development. The results are startling.

The researchers studied magnetic resonance imaging scans of developing children and adolescents age 4 to 22 years of age. In total, they looked at 829 images. These tests included all socioeconomic data and neuroimaging data. Collection of the data occurred from 2001 to 2007. Recruiting was held at 6 data sites across the U.S. and participants were assessed for any factors that may adversely impact brain development. One quarter of the sample reported to be living 200% under the federal poverty line.

The researchers found that poverty was tied to structural differences in several areas of the brain that account for academic performance. For some, the difference in gray matter in the brain was a difference of 8 to 10%. These differences accounted for the children's academic difficulties.

The researchers concluded that the effect of poverty on learning was mediated by the differences in the structures of the children's brains. They suggested for those living 150% below the federal poverty line, extra resources should be targeted during early childhood to help remediate the early childhood environment. For a family of four, the federal poverty line is earning an income below $24,000.

This research shows that those living in poverty have large gaps to overcome that are structural in the brain. If they aren't given the proper resources, they will most likely have a difficulty advancing academically and into a higher earning career later in life. These children must be targeted to ensure they get additional resources need to advance in life. If not, poverty will continue to be perpetual in nature, and remain an ongoing problem.

Yours in health,

Michael Omidi

Dr. Michael Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty, a nonprofit that advocates to change poverty in America and around the world.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 00:00

Poverty Rates in American School Districts

Dr. Michael Omidi discusses a new map which highlights the poverty rates in every school district throughout America.

It has been commonly known that where a child lives, greatly impacts their educational experience. Now a new map reveals the rate of poverty in a given school district throughout the United States. Today, we'll review the map and discuss the implications it has.

The map titled, “Dividing Lines: School District Borders in the Unites States,” was complied by edbuild. It shows the more than 13,000 school districts throughout the US. Districts are color coded based on the percentage of poverty within it.

What's shocking is that some of our nation's school districts have over 40% of their students living below the poverty line. These are districts coded in dark red. The map also discusses how schools are zoned and how more affluent neighborhoods have an advantage since much of the funding raised for public schools comes from property taxes.

Some of the schools highlighted show how some schools were purposefully zoned to keep socioeconomic classes divided. One such is that of Spencer-Sharpless School District in Ohio which was originally drawn in 1948. By 1960 the area was heavily underfunded and many school districts refused to join. By 1980 all schools within the Spencer-Sharpless boundaries were formerly closed.

Since the great recession as the map points out, areas in concentrated poverty have doubled. In total, 495 school districts are living in deep poverty. That means over 40% or more of their population is living under the poverty line. With all this information, then what is the repercussions?

Many of these schools will be underfunded and thus have less resources for things like books, extracurriculars and other vital programs for a child's develop. This means that these students won't be only economically disadvantaged but most likely academically disadvantaged. Without going on to higher education, these students will most likely perpetuate the poverty they grew up in.

Is there an easy solution? The answer is no. Much has to be done to reform these failing districts in order to potentially bring these students towards an equal education as those living in more affluent areas. It is up to our policy makers to make the tough decisions to reform these schools to help the future generations of America.

Yours in health,

Michael Omidi

Dr. Michael Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty a nonprofit that works to reduce the impact of poverty in America and throughout the world.

Published in Blog

Julian Omidi discusses a report by UNICEF which shows millions of children are being left behind in poverty.

Tuesday, UNICEF released a report showing the failing global efforts to help children living in poverty. These results should be alarming to anyone who cares about the impact of global poverty and the well-being of children. Today, let’s look at the data from the report and how it children are being left behind. According to the report, the world's poorest children are twice as likely to die prior to their fifth birthday. What's worse is the rate at which children are dying, within a few days of their birth. These statistics should be startling.

Now, there has been some progress on the poverty front. From 1990 to today, poverty has reduced from 1.9 billion to 1 billion. Of these, 47% of people living in poverty are under the age of 18. Meaning, nearly half of those living in poverty today are children.

The severity of the quality of care is heavily dependent on the country. In India, nearly 60% of people living in poverty live on less than $2.00 a day! That's the price of a small cup of coffee in America. The agency warns that by 2030, nearly 68 million children under the age of five could die. What's more, 119 will be malnourished. This doesn't even account for disease caused by poor living conditions.

This report makes it clear that children are at jeopardy. Maternal mortality rates are down by 45% showing that mothers are less likely to die, but their children are still at risk. More needs to be done on a global level in order to help these children in need.

You can help by working with charitable organizations that help children in need. No More Poverty works to educate people about the global poverty problem while working with other charitable organizations that help people in poverty. Only through action can the problem be solved.

Julian Omidi,

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty, a nonprofit that works to stop poverty throughout the world.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 17:15

Government aid Often Misses the Poorest Americans

Dr. Michael Omidi is co-founder of No More Poverty, among other charities. Today he discusses how government aid often isn’t accessible to our nation’s poorest.

Last week, The New York Times posted an article examining the distribution of government aid to the economically challenged in America. Throughout, the article raises awareness of those who are often missed in receiving financial assistance. Today, we will address the questions raised and offer suggestions on how you personally can help.

Since the mid-1980s, there has been an increase in assistance to the disabled, working poor and married couples. However, aid directed towards the poorest Americans has shrunk. From 1983 to 2004, aid to families just above the poverty line has nearly doubled. These numbers are in far contrast to those at the bottom of the income gap, those benefits have decline by one-third.

Recent government reform has emphasized rewarding those who are disadvantage that work, are disable and elderly. These are the ‘deserving poor.’ Those who do not work, are generally seen as ‘not trying’. This can be seen through the Obama administration’s proposal for a $500 tax credit to working parents with children, the increase in the national minimum wage and paid parental leave.

Much of this decline started back in the 90s with the Clinton administration’s pursuit to end welfare as we know it. That was in hopes to stop welfare cheats. However, this type of decline in aid truly hurts those who are in desperate need. With all that said, how are the country’s most poor able to get by?

Ending Poverty through Non-Profit Aid

As the article highlight, many of these men and women are forced to look through private organizations for assistance. One such man had help through the Salvation Army and various shelters. Without individual support, it then is left up to charitable contributions from individuals and non-profit organizations.

We here at No More Poverty feel for these individuals. We offer resources to those looking to get ahead by giving access to information on micro-lenders and organizations like GCLearnFree.org, which provides online education regardless of income or circumstances. We also work with many charities that help aid those in need with necessities like groceries, clothing and temporary shelter.

Ultimately, it is important for our government to help their citizens in need. Yet, the politics to do so become very difficult because of disagreeing views from both sides of the aisle. Luckily, our country has so many charitable individuals who want to help provide economic relief to those in need. You can help in that cause by donating to charitable organizations, as well as volunteering your time at shelters. As individuals, we have the power to change our nation. I hope those of you who are able to, do your part to stop poverty.

Yours in health,

Michael Omidi

The Omidi brothers, Julian Omidi and Michael Omidi, along with their mother, Cindy Omidi are founders of several charities dedicated to making the world a better place.

Published in Blog