Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do We Have Poor People in Clio?

Clio Faces New Challenge

During the last few years, the Clio Healthy Community Initiative has led some programs and activities to improve the quality of life in the area, but now a new challenge has emerged that will require new resources and a new understanding of the world today in Clio.  Poverty.  Yes, we have poverty in the Clio area.

Time Magazine’s November 28th issue lays out the challenge in their article, “Below the Line.”  The article documents the fact that more Americans (46.2 million) are living in poverty than at any time since the census bureau has been keeping track.  The point of the article seems to be that poverty is now seen in every state and in every neighborhood.  The article says:

1.       Poverty is everywhere.  Of all the poor in American, suburbs have 33%, Cities have 28%, small metropolitan areas have 21% and rural communities 19%.  The income in the city of Clio has declined over the last ten years, and the number of children living in poverty ($22,314 for a family of four) has increased from 20% to 48% of Clio kids.

2.      Poverty is more than not having enough money.  Costs are up dramatically for Clio residents.  Gas and transportation costs are up and no public transportation is available.  Health care costs are up, and few resources reach out this far.  People are working two jobs and child care costs are up.  The new poor do not know how or where to access the state or federal safety net that are usually housed in the inner cities.

3.      Neighborhoods need fixing from within.  In every community, it is now necessary to “put the neighbor back in the hood.”  While Clio enjoyed numerous block and neighborhood clubs in the past, they have all but disappeared on Poplar and Clarion, on Marjorie and Delwood, and on Renee and Ataberry among others.

4.      The international economy affects some more than others.  In Clio’s past, Clio residents worked at GM or at the small auto-suppliers; and enjoyed the family farm after work.  Now, the family farm is owned by corporations, GM went bankrupt, and small auto-suppliers have literally disappeared.  The suburban Clio Area has been hit as hard as any community in Michigan!

5.      Solutions are available.  Poverty can be addressed in Clio and throughout the US by increasing the knowledge of how to access the current safety net before falling into “generational poverty,” by increasing the number of students in apprentice or technical programs, by raising the number of residents who have at least a two year degree or certificate, and by taking advantage of the new generation’s knowledge of technology.

Some of my friends and neighbors have told me recently that “we don’t have poor people in Clio;” and further, we don’t want poor people in Clio.  As a community, we need to understand the reality of our situation in order to address it.  We need to reach out and embrace the problem, not ignore it in hopes it will get better.

The crisis of jobs, educational levels, and poverty in the Clio Area will not solve itself. We need to take action. 

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