Mar 232004
Authors: Colleen Buhrer

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

at CSU.

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

temporary jobs.

“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.”

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