The October 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

The Aristocracy and the Disaster

In Katrina's Wake, Oakland Batters Homeless

A Perfect Storm of Racism

Katrina: Ongoing Human Disaster

FCNL Speaks Out on Katrina

Kerry's Kids: Health Care for Poor Children

Fresh Start Gives Kindness Awards

The Dying Gift of Sharon Ostman

A 500-Year-Old War on the Poor

37 Million Live in Poverty in US

Julia Vinograd: Poet Laureate of Berkeley Streets

Innovative Plans for Homeless Housing

Disabled Woman on a Long Road Back Home

Photographer's Eye for the Dignity of People

Poor Leonard On Prejudice

The Flower Lady

October Poetry of the Streets


September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

37 Million People in Poverty in the U.S.

Eliminating safety-net programs for the poor in favor of tax cuts for the rich -- while 37 million live in poverty -- is immoral.

by the American Friends Service Committee

In response to recently released Census Bureau poverty figures, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) called on Congress to adopt a moral budget that helps people meet their basic needs. Eliminating safety-net programs for the poor in favor of tax cuts for the rich -- while 37 million live in poverty -- is immoral, declared the AFSC, an international social justice organization.

In its Current Population Survey, released on August 30, the Census Bureau reported that over one million more people lived in poverty in 2004 than in the previous year. Data also show that nearly six percent of the U.S. population lived in extreme poverty, defined as below 50 percent of the poverty threshold.

"The Census Bureau report should be a wake-up call for our nation," said Roberta Spivek, AFSC's national representative for economic justice. "At a time when at least one in every eight people in our country lives in poverty, Congress is poised to cut $35 billion from survival programs like Food Stamps and Medicaid. At the same time, it is considering $70 billion in tax breaks that will mainly benefit the most affluent households."

African Americans, Native Americans, and indigenous peoples of Alaska had the highest extreme poverty rates of people surveyed. People who were foreign born were more likely to live near the poverty threshold or in extreme poverty than were those who were native born.
Nationwide, 37 million people, including 13 million children, live below the official poverty line of $9,643 for one person and $19,311 for a family of four. Nearly one in five U.S. children is poor.

AFSC is conducting a Save Our Services (S0S!) campaign that calls attention to inequities in the federal budget. The campaign urges Congress to avoid cutting essential services and to reject tax cuts that benefit a few, when it completes its work on the fiscal year 2006 federal budget this fall.

"How our nation responds to poverty is a moral issue," emphasized Kathryn Kurtz, associate director of the AFSC community relations unit. "Congress can either adopt tax and budget policies that will increase income inequality and poverty, or it can choose policies that promote the common good and the values of dignity and equality."

"Many experts believe the official poverty threshold is too low, and seriously underreports the true extent of U.S. poverty," Spivek added.

AFSC is also campaigning for an increase in the minimum wage and working to keep Social Security a public, not private, program. Social Security is widely regarded as one of the most effective U.S. anti-poverty programs.

For information on AFSC's S0S! Campaign, see See the Census Bureau report at
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service.

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