This week, NPR published the first three stories in their compelling series on Americans living in poverty. The series, entitled “Poverty in America,” delves into the lives of single mothers in Reading, PA, a city where 41.3 percent of the population are impoverished. The series reveals how these women rely on a network of support from relatives, local charities and federal programs to survive. Without this assistance, they would not be able to care for their families and simultaneously earn an income.
The series also brings up some disturbing statistics that came out of the 2010 census: In 2010, the total number of people living below the poverty line was 46.2 million – the highest level it has ever been in the 52 years this data has been collected. At the time of the census, 15.1 percent of Americans were impoverished, and more than 1 in 5 children were living in poverty.
Studies have proven that children who grow up in poverty are far more likely to remain impoverished as adults. It is vital that we tackle the cycle of poverty at the points that matter most, giving low-income families the resources and tools they need to become self-sufficient. This means ensuring that parents are able to continue their education, so that they can attain better paying jobs. It means offering affordable, dependable childcare, so that children are supervised and have stability in their lives. It means ensuring that all families have access to reliable transportation.
A car provides invaluable opportunities to families, and in many cases is the critical tool needed for financial independence. Without a car, families face huge obstacles in finding employment and traveling to work, school and daycare. With a vehicle, they are truly able to move themselves out of poverty and provide better opportunities for their families.
At Vehicles for Change, we see this every day. What one family sees as an unwanted vehicle may be a life-changing car for another family. So before you decide to trade-in that old car, reconsider – it may be just the item another family needs to turn their lives around.