Down . . . But Not Out! A Look at Situational Poverty

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Down . . . But Not Out! A Look at Situational Poverty (56:00)
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For many Americans, the threat of sudden poverty has less to do with the nation’s overall economy than it does with personal circumstances. This program discusses the hard facts of situational poverty with a focus on the four most common triggers: job loss, the fastest way to become impoverished; health issues, such as severe injury or long-term illness; the loss of a spouse through divorce or death; and natural disasters. The program also talks about where to turn for help and provides supportive words of hope. People in the grip of situational poverty may be down, but they aren’t out! A part of the series Poverty in America. (Original series title: The 51st State.) (55 minutes)

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Segments in this Video - (14)

1. Poverty in America (03:03)
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About 12% of Americans do not have enough to eat, have missed a utility payment, or suffer other hardships. One in eight Americans lives below the poverty line. One in five children lives in poverty.

2. America's Invisible Poor (02:58)

The most visible of America's poor are the homeless. Less visible are the working poor who cannot improve their conditions, including immigrant workers, America's debt-ridden middle class, poverty-ridden seniors, and those caught in situational poverty.

3. Situational Poverty in America (02:44)

Though many Americans are caught in situational poverty, their numbers are not included in the national poverty rate. Events such as divorce, an unpaid bill, auto accident, health event, or a missed paycheck force people into situational poverty.

4. Unemployment and Poverty (04:36)

Many workers are called "contingent" workers because they are not employed by stable employers. Unemployment can put anyone in poverty--a great fear of the middle class.

5. Unemployment and Lifestyle Changes (03:09)

A forklift operator loses his job. Now he is forced to work part-time jobs, but it is not enough to provide for his family. From a former life of middle-class niceties, the family now lives from day to day.

6. Unemployment and Family Stress (02:36)

After losing his full-time job, a husband and father works odd jobs and on weekends to earn enough for rent and some food. The circumstances strain the family, as the children lack play space, and the parents are too exhausted to enjoy each other.

7. State and Federal Help Unavailable to Situational Poor (05:18)

A family faces difficulties applying for aid with their financial problems. They get the run-around. Filling out paperwork takes inordinate amounts of time. The family is frustrated by rejections and vague replies. They have received no money.

8. Situations of Poverty: Injury (03:11)

Job loss due to injury or problems is another way people can spiral into poverty. When an injury forces a family man into disability pay, his self-esteem and his marriage suffer.

9. Family Financial Struggles (03:58)

When a working man's injuries keep him home, his wife takes a part-time job to help support the family. They are unable to get government support because they have a newer car that they already paid off.

10. Middle-Class Family Needs Food (03:42)

Because of situational poverty, a family that used to live well and who drives a newer but paid for automobile, gets food from several local agencies. The family feels humbled by their situation.

11. Situations of Poverty: Illness (03:41)

Major illnesses and injuries can drain a family's life savings. Prior to his brain cancer, a man is successfully employed. His illness drains his resources, he loses his home, and he is no longer able to support his daughter.

12. Situations of Poverty: Marital Status (04:00)

A change is matrimonial status can force people into situational poverty. In today's economy, it takes two adults working to support a family.

13. Situations of Poverty: Natural Disasters (02:57)

Floods ruin houses and personal property, throwing victims into situational poverty. Many victims moved into FEMA trailers, but it is not a permanent solution.

14. Help and Hope for Situational Poverty (07:04)

Soup kitchens offer relief for people in temporary financial trouble, but for many, it is a humiliating experience at first. Most middle-class people in situational poverty find their way out.

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