One Person at a Time: Catholic Charities Works to End Poverty
Too many Marylanders – 585,000 – currently live in poverty. This is 10% of the total state population. Poverty is high in both urban and rural areas. The federal poverty level states that a family of four that has a household income of $24,250 per year or less is living in poverty. About 7.6% of seniors age 65 and up, 12% of women age 75 and up, and 13.3% of children live at or below the federal poverty level.
The working poor person is considered to have worked for at least 27 weeks but has an income that still falls below the official poverty level. The Maryland Minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. The housing wage in Maryland, the wage per hour needed to pay the rent and utilities on a 2-bedroom apartment and spend less than 30% of take-home pay, ranges from $14/hour to $27/hour.
Due to the recession, unemployment in the state has doubled over the past five years—from 3.6% in September 2007 to 5.3% in April 2015. As a result, 6% of children live with parents who are unemployed.
People with developmental disabilities have the highest unemployment rate of any group of Americans: up to 80% of people with developmental disabilities are not employed.
In 2014, there were at least 7,856 homeless people in Maryland. The number of homeless unaccompanied youth and children increased by 7.3% in Maryland in 2014.
Of Maryland’s homeless population, 22% are considered “chronically homeless,” defined as individuals who have a disability, including serious mental illness, chronic substance disorders, or chronic medical issues, and who are homeless repeatedly or for long periods of time.
Among Maryland’s homeless, 37% are members of families and 36% experience unsheltered living on the streets or other places not intended for human habitation. Close to 100,000 (98,521) Marylanders have “doubled up” with a family member or friend and are a step away from homelessness.
How we help
Catholic Charities provides a variety of programs throughout Maryland to assist people who are struggling to make ends meet and striving to work their way out of poverty. These programs assist low-income people and families to achieve self-sufficiency through a range of transitional housing services, meal programs, education, employment, and counseling services, and through referrals to other support services. Our aims are to help prevent people from slipping into poverty, to assist those experiencing poverty to escape and to improve lives.