Despite our economic success and low unemployment rate (less than 4%), poverty and crime continue to rise as thousands of working families struggle to make ends meet. These issues disproportionately affect minority communities. In Dallas, 83% of people in poverty are Black or Hispanic.
The 2019 United Way of Texas ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report revealed that 269,000 of Dallas County’s 925,000 households are one emergency away from poverty, while about 132,000 are already there. The latest numbers from the Corporation for Economic Development show that 36% of Dallas residents are considered “asset poor.” That means many working families who lose a job or encounter an unexpected expense will be in immediate crisis. Many working families’ lack of savings and low wages make them especially vulnerable to homelessness.
This lack of assets also puts children at risk. For the third year in a row, Dallas maintains the second worst child poverty-rate among major cities in the United States. In fact, 28.8% of Dallas families with children currently live in poverty. Given that over 46% of Dallas residents have a high school diploma or less, some parents lack both the skills to increase wages and the capacity to address their children’s academic challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit homeless and working poor families especially hard. They have been the most negatively impacted by job loss, furloughs, and reduced hours, and most do not have sick days or paid time off. For those who can work from home, their children need a safe place to stay during the day and to complete their schooling virtually. We anticipate that the need will continue to grow as the eviction bans are lifted and families struggle to re-enter the workforce. Thankfully, Interfaith has a proven methodology for elevating entire families out of poverty.