PETER S. GOODMAN | New York Times
CLEVELAND — The first night after she surrendered her house to foreclosure, Sheri West endured the darkness in her Hyundai sedan. She parked in her old driveway, with her flower-print dresses and hats piled in boxes on the back seat, and three cherished houseplants on the floor. She used her backyard as a restroom.
The second night, she stayed with a friend, and so it continued for more than a year: Ms. West — mother of three grown children, grandmother to six and great-grandmother to one — passed months on the couches of friends and relatives, and in the front seat of her car.
But this fall, she exhausted all options. She had once owned and overseen a group home for homeless people. Now, she succumbed to that status herself, checking in to a shelter.
“No one could have told me that in a million years: I’d wake up in a homeless shelter,” she said. “I had a house for homeless people. Now, I’m homeless.”
by: Brian Hull
The U.S. Census Bureau released data today showing that 118,556 Rhode Islanders were living in poverty in 2008. The data is based on a 3 million person sampling in the United States called the American Community Survey, and shows that Rhode Island’s poverty rate in 2008 stood at 11.7%. This is lower than (although statistically insignificant to) last year’s rate of 12%. Rhode Island ranked 31st highest in the nation, below the national average. When compared to the other New England states, however, Rhode Island had the second highest level of poverty, after Maine.
The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans — those making more than $138,000 each year — earned 11.4 times the roughly $12,000 made by those living near or below the poverty line in 2008, according to newly released census figures. That ratio was an increase from 11.2 in 2007 and the previous high of 11.22 in 2003.
Nationally, the poverty rate for 2008 stood at 13.2%, an 11-year high. This represents a total of 39.8 million people (14 million of which are children) living in poverty. There have not been this many people living in poverty since 1960.
By Chris Barrett
Providence Business News Staff Writer
Rhode Island’s social safety net is expensive and splintered, according to a report released jointly today by United Way of Rhode Island and the R.I. Public Expenditure Council.
The 58-page report details federal and state programs that provide assistance to the state’s poor, unemployed and disabled residents. It comes as the state’s economy continues to struggle and state agencies deal with an influx of residents seeking social services.
The report found that 46 percent of all spending in this year’s enacted state budget flows to grants and benefits for programs such as Medicaid, medical assistance programs, child care subsidies and unemployment benefits.
[United Way Report PDF after the jump.] Continue reading
By Paul Edward Parker
Providence Journal Staff Writer
More than 3 percent of Rhode Island’s population — some 33,000 men, women and children — fell into poverty in 2008 as the recession tightened its grip on the Ocean State, according to recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
From 2007 to 2008, Rhode Island displaced Massachusetts as the New England state with the highest poverty rate. The state also leapfrogged Maine and Vermont in the process, going from fourth-highest to highest in the six-state region.