Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty in Detroit

We really don't need a study to tell us: Detroit is the poorest large city in the United States. The old adage states: "when the country gets a cold, Detroit and Michigan get pneumonia"...

According to a story that ran last August in the Detroit News:
Poverty rose across Michigan last year while incomes fell for the third year in a row, according to new data that reveal the widening impact of the state's economic restructuring.
The Census Bureau reported on Tuesday that Michigan's poverty rate crept up to 14 percent, a percentage point above the national rate that it had mirrored in previous years. But the state's poorest cities fared even worse: An estimated one in three Detroiters is in poverty, making the city the poorest large city in the country.
Flint and Kalamazoo, each at 35.5 percent, were even higher.

It's been that way for years; but especially because for so long, Detroit and Michigan have depended on one-industry : the auto industry.  But things, they are a-changin'; Detroit and Michigan are working on improving education, investing in other technologies, focusing on industries and jobs "of the future".

But what about today?  On Monday, Senator Barack Obama laid out an ambitious economic recovery plan. Whether everything can be accomplished when the United States is spending $10Billion a month in Iraq is to be seen. Meanwhile, however, it is the "community organizations" that are working hard to help the 1 in 3 Detroiters who are in poverty. As reported in the same Detroit News article, two of the many community organizations in Detroit that are trying to help:

"There have been a lot of difficult times, but I've never seen something like this," said Thomas Cervenak, executive director of the People's Community Services, which has facilities in Detroit and Hamtramck. "We have a lot of people come in to the center looking for food and the incidents of people not really having a place to live have increased"...The agency is planning to change in the next month in order to place more of emphasis on children's services, he said. 

Mike Fisher, founder of the Detroit Community Initiative on the east side, said he's no longer worried about whether the city is the poorest or not. He's too busy trying the help people."We know that, we've been living it," Fisher said. "Detroit has been suffering with double-digit unemployment rates in certain communities for years. Now it's more of a matter of how we dig ourselves out of this hole." 
This is the time to celebrate and support community organizations as their jobs become harder and harder. If you would like to help, but aren't quite sure how or where to even begin, contact Arise! Detroit: this community organization is a clearinghouse for many organizations trying to help in Detroit.

If you are reading this blog, you are better off than many, many others. If you can find a way to help others, thank you from me and the worldwide Blog Action Day 2008.

[Blog Action Day 2008 Tracking Link]

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