what is poverty?
Poverty is the deprivation of food, shelter, money and clothing that occurs when people cannot satisfy their basic needs. Poverty can be understood simply as a lack of money, or more broadly in terms of barriers to everyday life. Nearly 20 percent of District residents live in poverty. In other words, 110,000 District families earn less than $22,314. That is an alarming number of poor residents, but it’s not the full picture.
Of great concern is the large number of struggling individuals who are not captured among the poor, even though their incomes are dangerously close to the official poverty level. These low-income workers, who are struggling to make ends meet, face many of the same economic risks and challenges as those who are officially poor.
Poverty is not a fixed state. Almost half of the spells of poverty are quite short: nearly 45 percent end within 1 year, 70 percent are over within 3 years, while 12 percent last 10 years or more. Since the economic recession, many formerly middle class families have slipped into poverty.