The Hidden Costs of Poverty Explained | Opinion

“Anyone who has fought against poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. “

– James Baldwin, African-American author

Someone reading this might be thinking, “Yeah, that’s it. But once you know more about it, it makes sense. Consider the following scenarios. A tenant in a trailer park has her car broken down and has to pay $ 700 in repair to get to work. That $ 700 is not in her budget, so she is falling behind on the land rent. After the first five days of late rent, the landlord adds a late fee of $ 50. If the rent and late fees are not paid by the 15th of the month, the landlord begins the eviction process which adds an additional $ 150 to the tenant’s obligations.

A full-time employee barely manages to have a toothache. He can’t take time off work to go to the dentist, and he can’t find an affordable dentist. He has no dental insurance – in fact, his job offers no benefit. A few months later, he has an abscess that he tries to ignore as long as possible until he has to go to the emergency room. What could have been a filling is now an extraction and a crown or bridge. He’s also spent money he doesn’t have on prescriptions.

A young mother knows she needs new tires for her 2004 van which looks rusty and damaged. She is afraid in winter that she will not be able to stop on icy roads. Her worst case scenario happens and she has an accident and it’s her fault because she couldn’t help but slip into another car. She now has 4 defective tires and a major car repair. Another “poverty expense” is only being able to buy an old car with high mileage, which leads to frequent major repairs.

A man in his twenties thinks he is in fairly good health and does not need health insurance. He is making too much money to qualify for Medicaid and does not want to pay for insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Lo and behold, his appendix exploded and he had to undergo an appendectomy. And the bill comes back to him.

It’s not just in downtown Chicago or Detroit where low-income people struggle to buy fresh meat and fresh produce because of “food deserts” – whole blocks without a chain. grocery store or grocery store at a reduced price. Some rural residents have to travel long distances to take advantage of the chain grocery stores. In a pinch, they go to more expensive convenience stores or mom and pop stores that don’t have meat and fresh produce. The prices they pay are higher.

Utilities send shutdown notices to customers two months late. There was a moratorium at the worst of the pandemic, but it has expired. Customers who hadn’t paid during the pandemic because they only had stimulus checks or unemployment suddenly had to catch up. Where is this money supposed to come from? When utility companies stop service, high reconnection fees are charged. If a person in poverty bounces a check, high bank charges are automatically assessed.

Credit scores matter a lot more than many low-income people realize. Potential employers check credit scores to see if there will be a strong motivation to steal. Landlords check credit scores to screen out risky tenants. Lenders use credit scores to determine the interest rate that will be charged for any purchase on credit. The worse the credit rating, the higher the interest rate.

Now that the holidays are approaching, it’s time to think about our neighbors in need. In partnership with Church of the Mediator, 20 Neighbor by Neighbor families with children will receive turkeys and ingredients for all traditional side dishes. There are many more customers who may not enjoy a holiday meal due to poverty. If you want to do something concrete we suggest sending or depositing gift cards, especially Hardings or Meijers for groceries, dollar store or gasoline. Donations of funds, of course, are always welcome and can be mailed to Neighbor by Neighbor, PO Box 30, Union Pier, MI 49129. Office hours are generally 9am to 4pm, but it is best to call d ‘first 269-231-0648 if you wish. drop something.

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