[Source: Christine Rogel, Cronkite News Service] — Arizona’s poverty rate stood at 14.7 percent in 2008, 13th highest in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Wednesday. In all, 935,000 Arizonans were estimated to live in poverty, defined by the federal government as less than $14,489 per homeowner under 65. That was up from 876,000 in 2007. “It’s worrisome because behind the numbers are real people and families struggling, and during the recession it has gotten worse,” said Timothy Schmaltz, coordinator for Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition. “We’re living in a state where we have food boxes, but they’re smaller than they were a year before because they are serving more people.”
The national poverty rate was 13.2 percent in 2008, up from 13 percent in 2007. Mississippi had the highest rate at 20.8 percent; New Hampshire’s was lowest at 7.8 percent. In Arizona, Yavapai and Greenlee counties had rates that fell below the national average: 12.9 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively. Maricopa County’s rate was 13.4 percent. The report said that one in three Apache County residents lived in poverty, giving that county the 45th-highest rate among more than 3,000 counties analyzed in the report.
Elizabeth Segal, professor of social work at Arizona State University, said that cuts in social services due to the state’s budget crisis have exacerbated the problem of poverty. She said early childhood education is key. [Note: Read the full article at Census release ranks Arizona’s poverty rate 13th highest in nation.]
[Source: Teresa Brice, Local Initiatives Service Corp.] — I wanted to share the information LISC received on the impact on the Arizona Housing Trust Fund from the proposed state budget that is going to Governor Janet Napolitano for approval. Essentially, it was the Senate budget, not the House version, that received approval to be sent to the Governor. This included a $8.2 million cut to the Trust Fund (instead of the $30 million cut by the House), and $583,000 for program cuts (not $3.1 million). There was no indication that a change in the funding formula was made. While the session has not closed yet, this looks pretty certain.
LISC wishes to express its thanks to some groups that stepped up to its call for advocacy and sent information to their members, including AARP, Arizona Public Health Association, Arizona Bankers Association, and Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition (PAFCO).
You may want to send a note of thanks to the Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate and a special note of thanks to Republicans who supported the budget sent to the Governor: On the House side, Reps. Reagan, Burns, Hershberger, and Mason. On the Senate side: Senators Allen, Bee, O’Halleran, and Tibshraeny. You can use this website to find e-mail and phone numbers. You may also want to send a quick note to the Governor to voice your opinion.