Hidden Faces of Poverty in Albany County
Imagine being a 35-year-old single mother of two school-aged children. You work 30 hours each week earning $10.00 an hour. It’s the third week of the month and in your hand is a past due utility bill and an eviction notice from your landlord. Can you imagine?
Please, try to imagine the thoughts and feelings. The anxiety of packing everything you own and moving again. The worry of how your children will accept and adapt. The fear of not finding an affordable apartment. The uncertainty of next month’s income.
Layers of emotions pile up. Fear, helplessness, hopelessness. All that is left is the determination and strength to get through the immediate crises and the courage to ask for help.
Homelessness, or the fear of homelessness, is a cocktail of emotions consumed by too many of our neighbors. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 6000 people in Albany County live in poverty. They are all around us yet we fail to notice. They shop in our stores and work in our businesses. The children attend our schools. They drive on our streets and walk on our sidewalks. Yet they remain hidden.
In February, Interfaith – Good Samaritan will be launching a new media campaign to promote awareness of the plight of too many of our neighbors. It will be your opportunity to hear the real stories of a single mom, an unemployed father and a senior citizen living within the confines of a limited income.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 7 million people ages 65 and older had incomes below poverty in 2016. The poverty rate for seniors in Wyoming rose from 6.2% to 8.0% in 2017. Wyoming senior’s health ranking is 31 out of 51 due to low prescription drug coverage and low enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (America’s Health Rankings, December, 2017). Food insecurity among seniors was found to be associated with negative health conditions, such as depression, asthma, and high blood pressure. In Wyoming, 1 out of 3 seniors lives alone and of these, 66% are female. To bring attention to the challenges faced by many seniors in Albany County, Interfaith-Good Samaritan is proud to share our second video of the Hidden Faces video series.
(part 2) What do hard times look like to you? Is it a man on the street begging for change? What does trying your best but still not having enough to put food on the table look like? Is there really poverty in Laramie, and if so what does it even look like? The video project "Hidden Faces" is designed to showcase some of our friends, family, neighbors, or colleagues that are struggling to get by. Our goal is to highlight that the need in Albany County goes much deeper than you may think.
Sometimes situations completely outside of our control can set us back to square one. The truth of the matter, our friends and families are struggling to make ends meet without anyone even knowing. Good, hardworking people, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps that need a helping hand.
You never know what someone is going through. You never know how many jobs they've applied for. You never know what their story is.
These are the hidden faces of Albany County, that don't need a handout but a hand up.