The poverty level is determined by comparing total family income
with the family’s yearly threshold. If the income is lower than the
threshold, the individual or family are in poverty, according to
the United States Census Bureau Web site.
For 2002, the weighted average threshold for one individual was
$9,183. For two it was $11,756 and for three $14,348.
“(Being poor) is hard work. It is traumatic. It is
demoralizing,” said Bruce Hall, associate professor of social work
Hall says that most of the things affluent people think about
wanting and doing are very accessible. For example they can drive
to work or the store without having to worry about bus schedules.
For people in poverty it does not happen this way.
Often they do not have a car, so when the bus stops running at 6
p.m. they must stop their day in order to get home.
“Everything is more compounding and more complex,” Hall
Even the services volunteers provide for the poor and/or
homeless can cause problems. Hall says most of the things done to
help tend to be fragmentary.
Sister Mary Alice Murphy, coordinator for social services at St.
Joseph’s Catholic Church, explained the fragmentation as well. She
said that because different agencies do different things, the
clients have to go to many different places to receive
The jobs available to the working poor do not necessarily help
the situation. Hall said the majority of working poor work
“Temp jobs aren’t as good as they look,” he said. “If this is
the only way you’re making it, temp jobs aren’t that great.”
Hall said temp jobs include things like industrial cleaning, in
which people are working in the cold and with toxic substances.
“A lot of people are willing to take those jobs,” he said. But
they do not make much money.
The response of certain communities can also affect a person’s
ability to survive and get out of poverty.
“They know they are rejected, they know they are not wanted,”
Hall said. “They know they are the rejects of society.”
There is also a tendency in a “Choice City” like Fort Collins to
pretend the problems of poverty do not exist, Sister Murphy
“That’s to the detriment of those struggling,” she said.
Sister Murphy also said the police tend to encourage homeless
people to get on their way. That does not solve the problem, she
“All that does is send the problems to the next city.”