Director reflects on poverty and welcomes Roberta Downing, PhD, senior legislative and federal affairs officer

Why does poverty persist?

By Keyona King-Tsikata, MPH

Why does poverty persist? It’s an age old question, with a vast number of answers and arguments. Some folks believe that the persistence of poverty is based on individual and family characteristics, while others believe that the current labor market has great implications for those battling the beast of poverty from the inside.  

The committee and Office on Socioeconomic Status (SES) recognized the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 2013, while the overall theme served to commemorate the 1964 March for Jobs and Justice, this anniversary served to celebrate the nation’s progress and its resolve to continue its efforts to fight inequality for undeserved and disenfranchised populations. 

As household earnings have declined due to un/underemployment, more and more Americans find themselves slipping into poverty. The consequences of poverty can be staggering, with some living with the trifecta of homelessness, poor health and hunger. While some others are lucky enough to have housing, they reside in high-poverty neighborhoods, which suffer with low-performing schools and persistent high crime. The U.S. Census Bureau released two reports this September, the first, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012 (PDF, 1.6MB) and the second, the American Community Survey. These reports offer data narratives on poverty across the United States. These reports highlight the growing challenge the US faces in rolling back the reach of poverty. 

Most recently, the committee and Office on Socioeconomic Status recognized World Poverty Day on Oct. 17, 2013, in an effort to bring awareness to the psychological effects of those living in poverty. With an eye towards unpacking a broad spectrum of issues surrounding poverty, the Office on SES would like to welcome Roberta Downing, PhD, senior legislative and federal affairs officer in the Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO). Downing, a former APA Congressional fellow, joins APA with a robust knowledge of the policy and legislative arenas, and a deep passion for connecting the science of psychology to the pervasive pandemic of poverty and its correlates.

As winter grows near, we are reminded of those living and experiencing homelessness this fall and winter season. The office will dedicate social media coverage to Hunger and Homelessness Awareness, during the week of Nov. 17-23. To read more on the role of psychologists in ending homelessness, visit our homelessness web page.

We are grateful for our many members that continue to offer feedback and suggestions on class and SES related issues.