Oftentimes, poverty is treated as a taboo subject to the point that talking about it makes people uncomfortable.
It should make people uncomfortable —it’s a heavy topic. But that shouldn’t deter people from bringing it up. Poverty is an especially pressing issue in Conway, where poverty rates are higher than even the state average.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, Arkansas was ranked “44th in the nation with a more than 17 percent poverty rate” in 2016. Although this was an improvement from 2015, when Arkansas was ranked 47th in the nation, 44 is still low.
Unfortunately, Conway has higher poverty rates on average when compared with the rest of the state. According to the City Data website, Conway had a 4.9 percent more residents below the poverty line than the average of the state, and 2.6 percent more residents with an income below 50 percent of the poverty line than that of the state as a whole.
Additionally, Conway residents in the highest percentile of people below the poverty line were aged 18-24 — the age range of traditional college students.The poverty being addressed is not typically one characterized by destitution and homelessness. Even those who are impoverished in the United States have many amenities that those in countries of extreme poverty don’t have.
According to a 2011 report by the Heritage Foundation,80 percent of poor households have air conditioning, 92 percent have a microwave, nearly three-fourths have a car and nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.
However, this doesn’t mean that poverty shouldn’t be addressed in the United States. In fact, because it gets so little attention, the causes of poverty in the United States need to be discussed and clarified even further. By being as transparent as possible about what it means to be poor in the United States, people can be better prepared to find solutions to the causes of the problems and set policy that will make a difference.
In Conway there are homeless shelters available for those who need it. However, many people in poverty within the United States own houses and amenities. Although those people might be struggling with providing for food or other necessities, because they have a house, they might not be willing to go to a homeless shelter, despite that shelter’s willingness to offer aid.
An important problem regarding poverty in the United States is not the unavailability of resources, but lack of knowledge of those resources.For example, UCA held a poverty simulation on Feb. 1, where students and teachers emulated what it’s like to live in a low-income family.Because this is a simulation, the experience isn’t accurate to what it’s like to live in poverty in real life.
However, the simulation was set up with real factors of poverty in mind, taking actual poverty statistics into account. At the end of the simulation, during the debrief, one of the professors who manned the booth representing the social services desk mentioned how she only gave out $196 of the $700 she had available because participants didn’t know about it.
Poverty presents itself in different ways in the United States, and discussion about it is necessary to form useful policies and create solutions.