The following exercise is derived from national statistics and placed in the context of an individual family.
Imagine yourself as a mom with two children. You worked as a customer service representative, but your iob was scaled back to fewer hours available due to the company’s economic hardships. Finally it became more financially prudent for you to stay home with your children than to pay for childcare, so you left the work force. Although your household never had a lot of money, you and your husband were able to rent a place and get by.
But now hard times have hit. Your husband has left and your savings have been quickly depleted. You have no family in the area and all of your friends are trying to make ends meet too. What are your options?
1) Having been out of the work force for a while, you update your resume and start sending it out. What is the average number of weeks unemployed job seekers spend before securing another job?
12 21 27 33
2) Retail work best matches your skillset and experience, and you find a job that pays minimum wage. You’re grateful to have a job, and you know that you can cut corners in your budqet somehow. After all, how much do you need to make per hour working a 40 hour week to be able to afford a 2 bedroom apartment? What hourly wage allows you to afford a fair-market rental?
$11.50 $14.00 $18.92 $19.73
3) How many hours a week would an employee have to work to afford the same 2 bedroom apartment at federally mandated minimum wage?
68 79 93 104
4) You can look to food aid to supplement your household budget. lf you use food stamps, you’ll be joining ___ million other Americans who receive them.
29.8 36.9 46.5 54.4
5) Since you can’t afford to buy enough food for the month, your children depend on getting a meal at school. What percentage of children in public schools qualified for free lunches in 2013-2014?
12% 17% 25% 32%
6) You work but you are still a low-income family (defined by the US government as earning less than twice the federal poverty level). What percentage of low-income families with children have at least one (part-time) working parent?
50% 62% 70% 80%
7) Your youngest daughter is not in school yet, and the cost of child care while you work is putting a lot of pressure on your limited budget. Child care costs are higher than public college tuition in how many states?
15 21 31 40
8) Children experiencing homelessness are sick ___ times more often than other children.
1.5 2 3 4
9) You’ve lost your job, your medical bills pile up and your budget has fallen apart. Behind on rent and facing eviction, you’ve requested shelter for you and your children – but what percentage of requests by families at homeless shelters are not met?
18% 24% 29% 32%
10) Your oldest child is a 15 year old boy. ln ___ percent of cities, families may have to break up in order to be sheltered. ln 48 percent of the cities families may have to spend their daytime hours outside of the shelter they use at night.
23% 40% 48% 55%
11) You have gotten yourself on the list for public housing. The average wait time is ___ months.
11 15 20 24
12) Your children have experienced homelessness. They join the more than ___ children will be homeless in this country over the course of a year.
600,000 800,000 1,000,000 1,600,000
Thanks to Family Promise for this exercise. Sources for the statistics are listed with the answers.
1. 33 Bureau of Labor Statistics
2. 18.92 (30% of income) National Low Income Housing Coalition
3. 104, but probably more here in the Mid-Atlantic National Low Income Housing Coalition
4. 46.5 USDA
5. 25% http://atlas.newamerica.org/federal-school-nutrition-programs
6. 70% Urban Institute
7. 31 Child Care Aware of America
8. 4 http://familyhomelessness.org/
9. 32% http://familyhomelessness.org/
10. 55% http://familyhomelessness.org/
11. 20 http://familyhomelessness.org/
12. 1.6 million http://familyhomelessness.org/