According to the U.S. Census, in 2019 the government set the poverty threshold at $13,300/yr for a one-person household, and $26,370/yr for a four-person household. Anyone earning that amount or less is considered below the poverty line. Poverty has been a problem in the United States since its foundation. A society that aims to reward hard work creates a hierarchy almost by definition, and that hierarchical system always must push some people to the bottom, into poverty and hardship. The negative effects of poverty on the individual and on the family are far too numerous to list, and while poverty is difficult to endure, it is also practically impossible to escape, due to low minimum wages that are barely enough to live on and continually defeat the efforts of low-income families to move their way up the hierarchy. In response to heightened awareness of the trials undergone by the poor and destitute in our society, the Economic Opportunity Act was passed in order to help fight poverty in 1964. This act called for the formation of private or public nonprofit organizations labeled community action agencies.
Changing Peoples Lives
Community action agencies have been known to also give out emergency funding to individuals in extreme need. Other initiatives have included doling out independently controlled accounts with enough money in them to give families down on their luck a boost toward self-sufficiency. Financial counseling is also regularly offered by community action agencies, and other programs that aim to incentivize smart spending, like this program that promises to match the money an individual spends on a car, home, post-secondary education, or small start-up business venture.
A Better Place to Live
Another priority for community action agencies is providing education for children of low-income or unemployed families. Children born into poverty are less likely to do well in school for any number of reasons, from lack of motivation or attention to being at greater risk for health problems that might impede learning. In order to attempt to offset the achievement gap between low-income students and richer students, many community action agencies offer early education programs.
In 2020, Kansas had, on average, 23.39 evictions per day. We know this thanks to The Eviction Lab at Princeton University. They collate data and create interactive tools, presenting research to help us tackle fair housing in Kansas and America.
"TalkPoverty.org—a project of the Center for American Progress—is dedicated to covering poverty in America by lifting up the voices of advocates, policymakers, and people struggling to make ends meet." They are also a dynamic and inimitable resource for an organization like KACAP. With their research we know that Kansas ranks 29th at closing the gender wage gap and 37th in fighting food insecurity.