Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TV Special on Poverty in Montgomery County

Montgomery County ranks among counties with the highest median incomes. We take pride in being the economic engine of Maryland. Our schools make the lists of the best in the nation, Yet we have pockets of poverty that are not easily seen. Families of working poor and people whose circumstances have taken dramatic turns for the worse due to the economic conditions of the past few years make up an increasing portion of our community.

We have people in this county who have lost significant jobs and have been unable to find other employment. We have people who work two jobs, and when they add up their paychecks, they still do not have enough to pay their basic bills. These families live right here, and they need help—but they are not always easy to identify.

That’s why I asked County Cable Montgomery to help shine a light on the hidden poverty within our county. We often only get a chance to see the affluence in Montgomery County, and this television program, The Unseen Montgomery, gives us a chance to see a growing part of life here.

The Unseen Montgomery, a 30-minute show terrifically produced and hosted by Susan Kenedy, points out that, on average, it requires a family income of $73,000 for a family of four to provide for all of its living essentials. But it also states that, over the past five years, Montgomery County has seen a 52 percent increase in the number of people receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) and that more than 5,600 families a month receive food from the Manna Food Center, a nonprofit that acts as the local food bank.

The first broadcast of The Unseen Montgomery will be at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 3. It will replay that day at 8 p.m. The next scheduled rebroadcast will be at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 9. It will be rebroadcast at various future times that have yet to be determined. CCM is broadcast as Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN and Channel 30 on Verizon. You can also see the broadcast via streaming on the County Web site or on YouTube.

The show identifies nonprofits that provide help to those in need, including Manna; A Wider Circle, which collects used furniture and household items for those in need; and the Food Recover Network, which collects unused food from restaurants and venue concession operators for nonprofit organizations that redistribute it to those in need. Also featured are the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, a structured program that seeks to get people free of assistance, and Arleeta’s Pantry at the Woodside Methodist Church in Silver Spring.


Anonymous said...

Great video, but one BIG problem....
The reliance on the visual of panhandling on our streets to underscore poverty is not valid or helpful. Many engaging in panhandling are not the poor that need help--but a mixture of persons with mental health needs, or suffer drug addition and some are very questionable, possibly criminal scams. Perpetuating the concept that citizens are helping the poor by giving to panhandlers is a not a good idea for county communications/media entities to promote.

Miriam Gandell said...

As someone working with homeless families in this County, I have become increasingly concerned with the emphasis on "being housed" to solve homelessness without the training, education, and life skills to earn an adequate income and maintain a stable home and address the underlying cause which is poverty. A family who is housed is not "homeless" but more and more, we see young mothers with little education, no employment experience, and few prospects for the future. They are still in need of their own parenting and have huge barriers to overcome to escape poverty for themselves and their children. We may be able to say that homeless families are housed, that they got a job, and increased their income but those numbers don't reflect earning minimum wage, having uncertain and fluctuating hourly schedules, and the lack of needed maturity to maintain their housing subsidy. We must start looking at the long-term needs and solutions for a family to move out of poverty. It may be more expensive in the short term but the positive impact it will have on both the family and the community will be worth it.