Advocates Call Rising Poverty Rates a National Emergency

Salt Lake CAP



New Census Numbers Indicate a National Emergency

Census numbers released yesterday indicate a National Emergency according to anti-poverty advocates. Many are calling for a swift reaction on behalf of the nations poor in light of evidence that poverty has grown at a staggering pace. Advocates in Utah are among those sounding the alarm.

According to Salt Lake Community Action Program Director Cathy Caputo Hoskins anti poverty advocates have seen this coming. “The just released census data on the number of people living in poverty does not come as a surprise to the Salt Lake Community Action Program.  The demand for our services has increased by 40% over the past 2 years. The needs of our low-income population keep going up and the resources to meet those needs keep dwindling. The Stimulus funding has been a great help to SLCAP in providing the critical basic needs of the population we serve, but those extra resources will end at the end of this month,” says Hoskins.

SLCAP Director Cathy Caputo Hoskins is among a growing number of anti-poverty advocates calling for a coordinated, well planned response and proactive measures to keep the nations poor from falling into the abyss. Advocates for the poor stress the new numbers indicate the need for immediate ARRA funding expansion for infrastructure, job programs, housing and emergency food resources.

43.6 million Americans now live in poverty. That is 1 in 7 and the greatest number of poor in America in 51 years. Data shows the highest proportion of Americans are now living at or under the poverty line since 1994 but key indicators predict a rapid growth of newly poor Americans as the great recession continues. Current projections by the Brookings Institute indicate that the United States may reach a poverty rate of 26% by 2014.

The recession has hit families the hardest. Two in five children now live in poverty or 15.5 million children. The numbers of homeless individuals has declined but the number of homeless families has risen sharply. There are 41,000 new homeless families since 2007. The numbers went from 131,000 homeless families to 170,000.

Salt Lake CAP has seen a greatly increased number of people requesting housing assistance and mortgage intervention. They do not have the funding to help a large portion of people who need help paying an apartment deposits and have been overwhelmed by requests.

Anti Poverty Advocates are calling for a re-deployment of troops on the War on Poverty

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding works and has continued to help prevent even larger numbers of the poor from falling into chronic homelessness and lifetime problems by funding new anti poverty programs and expansions of existing programs. ARRA funding needs to be expanded to meet the immediate basic needs of the poor. Advocates are also asking for an expansion of the TANF program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Community Service Block Grants will hopefully be voted on by Congress this year. CSBGs are a primary means of funding for the majority of Community Action Agencies.

Unemployment expansions have helped. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities unemployment extensions have kept 3.3 million Americans out of poverty.

Salt Lake CAP Director Cathy Caputo Hoskins emphasizes the need for public education on the subject.  “It is my hope that with the National attention being given to the extent of poverty in our Nation, our policy and decision makers can once again give the attention needed to help solve this horrible condition.  Poverty is real in Utah. It doesn’t have to be.”

Local agencies need donations in money and in kind to meet the needs of neighbors and friends who are quietly suffering in this economic downturn. This is about so much more than statistics; this is about preventing basic needs from going unmet. When basic needs for housing, food, hygiene, and healthcare go unmet people often fall into a lifetime problems and struggles. Basic assistance like Salt Lake CAP and other community action agencies provide can mean the difference between life and death. The financial and social cost to society is immeasurable.

Some Important Statistics

1-We now know 2 in five children are living in poverty in the United States and percentages are steadily increasing.

2- The War on Poverty was declared in 1964 by LBJ. Community Action Agencies were founded across the nation to assure the needs of local community members were being met. The war on poverty never ended.

3-Salt Lake CAP was founded in 1964 and currently employs over 500 people. They serve Salt Lake and Tooele counties providing: Head Start preschool to over 2,000 children, 6 emergency food pantries supported by the Utah Food Bank & The United Way, employment readiness counseling, rent & deposit assistance, mortgage counseling, healthcare advocacy, weatherization,  HEAT or utility assistance and impoverished teen intervention and life skills programs (FACES). Utah CAP coordinates between the numerous community action agencies and can be found at

4-Community Action Agencies are financed by the federal government and a variety of public and private entities. Community action works because the states are in charge of distribution of local funds and the agencies are governed by local community members. A tri-parte board of business leaders, the poor, and public officials work together to govern every CAA.

Other places to pull poverty stats from: done in 2004 by Brookings accurately projected current poverty numbers and predict a poverty rate of 16% in 2014 and the child poverty rate will reach a staggering rate of 26% by 2014.

The Coalition on Human Needs:

New homeless stats:

Unemployment numbers/ The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

The Economic Policy Institute:

Related to Community Action:

The National Community Action Foundation:

Salt Lake CAP’s blog:

The Salt Lake CAP rent and deposit assessment line is 801-359-4029.

Utah Community Action Partnerships:


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