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Poverty

Community leaders, residents voice concerns about poverty

DANVILLE – Affordable housing, the value of skill versus degree for jobs, social and health safety nets and prompt payments by the state to social-service agencies were some of the topics brought before a public hearing Monday with the Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty.

Monday's hearing was meant to gather views from central Illinois residents. Hearings are also scheduled in Chicago on March 8 and Carbondale on April 8.

Pam G. Dempsey/A woman is seen leaving empty tomb inc., taking with her the two free layette sets she picked up for her newborn twin grandchildren in January. Empty tomb inc. is a Christian organization and offers services to people in need of all income levels. A state commission is hosting public hearings statewide to see how to better combat extreme poverty.
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Upcoming hearing to be first step in battling extreme poverty

CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty will host a public hearing in Danville Monday as part of a plan to reduce extreme poverty in half by 2015.

The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. at The David S. Palmer Arena, 100 W. Main St., Danville. It’s the first of three hearings around the state that are meant to garner input from citizens living in financial hardship.

Pam G. Dempsey/A woman is seen leaving empty tomb inc., taking with her the two free layette sets she picked up for her newborn twin grandchildren in January. Empty tomb inc. is a Christian organization and offers services to people in need of all income levels. A state commission is hosting three public hearings beginning Monday to see how to better combat extreme poverty.
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New report suggests solutions to alleviate poverty

CHAMPAIGN – With the recession, a state budget crisis and record unemployment numbers, local officials struggle to meet the needs of the growing number of residents who fall below the poverty line.

In 2005, nearly 31,000 Champaign County residents lived below the federal poverty level, according to 2005 Census Bureau estimates. By 2008, one in five county residents lived below the federal poverty level, according to 2008 Census Bureau estimates.

What’s more, the number of county residents living in extreme poverty – those who make less than half of the federal poverty line – increased 40 percent between 2005 and 2008, according to Census Bureau estimates.

U.S. Census Bureau/ More than 20 percent of Champaign County residents live in poverty according to 2008 Census Bureau estimates.
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Graphic: Cost of living in Champaign County

In Champaign County, a family of four can spend an estimated $4,000 a month for basic expenses such as housing, food and childcare, according to calculations by the Social IMPACT Research Center.

CU-CitizenAccess/Source: The Social IMPACT Research Center
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Empty harvest: Migrant family faces hardships in Rantoul

RANTOUL— On a Saturday morning in October, trash overflowed from Dumpsters at the old Air Force hospital in Rantoul, where about 300 migrant farm workers and their families lived this summer and fall. Suitcases sat stacked on a picnic table; men walked around one another’s vehicles, looking under the hoods. Inside, the Ortiz family planned their 1,300-mile journey home to South Texas.


Brothers Ernesto and Isidro Ortiz, their wives — who are sisters — and their five children arrived in Rantoul in early July to detassel corn for Monsanto Company. When the hot fieldwork of summer was done, they stayed on to sort corn at Monsanto’s Farmer City plant.

By Shelley Smithson -- Alejandra Ortiz and her family traveled to Rantoul from Texas to work for Monsanto.
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Champaign County's poverty rate nearly 19 percent in 2008

CHAMPAIGN – Poverty rates for many counties in East Central Illinois were up in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Champaign County's overall poverty rate, which is inflated by the presence of University of Illinois students, was 18.7 percent in 2008. A year earlier, the overall poverty rate was 18.2 percent. In 2000, the county's rate was 11.7 percent.

An estimated 32,595 Champaign County residents lived at or below the poverty level last year. No other area county had close to that number. McLean County, which also has a state university, reported 17,484 at or below the poverty level. McLean County's poverty rate, however, was 11.4 percent.

The News-Gazette/ Salt and Light volunteer Doug Fields helps clients at the facility on Anthony Drive in Champaign in May.
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Thousands live on the edge of economic despair in county

After a day of wiping tables and sweeping french fries off the floor of McDonald´s, Kelly Gaddis limps home to the Courtesy Motel on North Vine Street in Urbana.

Gaddis, 53, cannot afford to buy a car or lease an apartment on the $8 an hour he earns as a lobby attendant at McDonald´s. He and his wife, who also works at the restaurant, rent a motel room by the week within walking distance of work.

He also cannot afford the company´s health insurance, so he hasn´t seen a doctor about a foot problem that causes him to limp. Asked what he does when he gets sick, Gaddis chuckles. “You hope you don´t. Or you go to the hospital and when the bill comes, you add it to the rest of them.”
 
The News-Gazette/ Kelly Gaddis and his wife, Kelly, in their home in the Courtesy Motel in Urbana.
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