Life below the Self-Sufficiency Standard Level
So how do people get by when their income is below the Self-Sufficiency
The official poverty rate is about 13%. How do those 13% get by?
twice as many of us live below the SSS level. How? What compromises are involved?
- Husband and wife work different shifts, so as not to have any childcare
- They rely on a non-working grandparent to provide childcare for
- They rely on a neighbor to provide childcare for a reduced price;
- They rely on unlicensed childcare, or childcare with low staff to children
- They rely on a young child to take care of himself after school and
during the summers;
- They rely on siblings to provide childcare.
- They rely on unreliable childcare, without built-in back-up systems
for sick children or sick childcare providers, endangering their own
job security (See "One
Sick Child Away From Being Fired: When 'Opting Out' is not an Option")
- They live with grandparents in a paid-for home
- They live with other relatives, sharing kitchens and bathrooms
- They subdivide an apartment, renting rooms to strangers
- They crowd a 4-person family into a single bedroom apartment
- A single mother shares a bedroom with her child or children
- They live in towns or neighborhoods whose schools are acknowledged
to be inferior
- They live in neighborhoods with noxious fumes or noise, at a lower
- They live further from public transportation
- They commute further from home to work to find housing they can afford,
spending money and time on commuting
- They get on the waiting lists for Section 8 subsidies or public housing,
if those waiting lists are accepting new applications
- They get food stamps, if they are available
- They visit food pantries, particularly just before payday.
- They utilize soup kitchens and other charitable offerings.
- They rely on school-lunches and breakfasts to stretch their food dollars
- They eat less healthy food.
- If the cash isn't available for the deductible or the co-pay, they
do without, or hope for charity.
- If the public transportation only runs infrequently they're stuck with
- If the car breaks down, there may simply not be money to pay for repairs.
- If the car is in an accident, there may simply not be money to pay
for a new one (the SSS doesn't assume collision insurance).
See the Income-to-Poverty
Ratio and the Self-Sufficiency Standard summaries to
get a sense of what percentage of us are in the situation of having to make these
Is this acceptable for your grandchildren? Should
we as a society accept this for any of our children and grandchildren? What
would it take to change it, to leave our children and grandchildren a society
in which few — or none — of us must struggle to meet our basic