What Being Poor Really Means

The causes of poverty are numerous: job loss, family issues, personal barriers, unexpected life changing events...all of these are just a few examples of some causes of poverty. No matter the cause, the effects of poverty are the same. The definition of poverty in its true essence, simply means to lack.

Often when we think of poor people, the images that comes to mind are those of a beggar, the homeless, or perhaps starving children in a third world country but... the true meaning of being poor, goes beyond ones material circumstances. In addition to financial poverty, there is also spiritual poverty, and educational poverty. All of which can have a lingering effect in the lives of those who suffer.

FINANCIAL POVERTY- can be described as lacking material wealth. It does not necessarily mean one is homeless, but that finances are in dire shape. Even those who are fortunate enough to have jobs, and a place to call home can still be considered impoverished. Unfortunately, struggling to make ends meet due to things like child care, routine bills, unexpected life challenges or barriers, can also be an indication of being one crisis away from severe lack.

SPIRITUAL POVERTY- is speaking to the inner self. Perhaps back accounts and bellies are full, yet there is an unexplainable void within. Spiritual poverty is not about religion per se, but rather a lack of substantive awareness beyond what the eyes can see.

EDUCATIONAL POVERTY- is when one lacks basic literacy skills such as reading, writing, and counting. If one does not have the basic skills to take care of themselves, how can they find employment to maintain in their lives? Survival then becomes only about instinct, rather than learning, and thriving.

Most people who experience poverty will fall into at least one, if not all of the above categories. It is important for the community at large, and its leaders in particular, to not only recognize what poverty is but be willing to develop the resources or tools needed to help those who lack. If 2020 has taught us the value of people working together for a common cause. The poor will indeed always be with us, but they do not need to suffer needlessly, because of the publics lack of understanding.

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  • If you live in Detroit, Highland Park or Hamtramck and need emergency shelter, call CAM at 313-305-0311. For those who need help in other parts of Wayne County, call Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency at 734-284-6999.

  • For help finding shelter in Oakland County, call the Community Housing Network at 248-269-1335.

  • For help finding shelter in Macomb County, call the Macomb Homeless Coalition at 586-213-5757


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