The assessment attempts to look at a number of different areas that impact poverty. While we do not have the resources to be fully comprehensive, it is an excellent tool that helps us see the issues families and communities face.
Our findings this year are consistent with what we’ve been seeing over the last several years. The majority of low-income families are working, but are not earning enough money in their jobs to be economically self-sufficient. These families generally have lower education levels, which is a primary indicator of how much income families have. In fact, if someone has just a high school diploma or GED, it is simply not enough education to earn a self-sufficient wage.
Housing continues to be a critical issue for low-income families as well. While over two-thirds of the entire population owns their own home, two-thirds of low-income families do not. Five percent of those served by CANI have been homeless in the last twelve months. The majority of low-income families pay over 30% of their income on housing, which robs them of the ability to meet their other needs.
Single-parenthood continues to be a major indicator of poverty. This not only deprives a family of the potential for two incomes, but it also creates issues with transportation, child care, and other barriers to self-sufficiency. In our communities, reliable transportation is simply critical to get to a job. If a family does not have child care, they cannot be employed. That is why transportation and child care are two areas that need to be addressed if we are going to help families become self-sufficient.
What we have seen over the last five years is a dramatic increase in unemployment and poverty rates. The damage that our economy has suffered has been felt by our most vulnerable citizens. The CANI Community Needs Assessment illustrates the poverty issues that we face in Northeast Indiana. It is an excellent resource as we continue our work, but we hope it will also be informative for the entire community. I invite you to use it and share it with others. The full study can be found on our web site and at the link here: