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Exploring the poverty line and poverty guidelines: definitions, impact, history

How do we define poverty?
Who is poor?
What does poor mean when you live in New York City or Birmingham, Alabama?
Survive or thrive or well-being?.

For a measure on which so many of our social safety net depends, we calculate it in such an anachronistic way and our floor is so low that although more than 40 million Americans are considered poor, so many more millions are caught in-between destitution (below the poverty line) and borderline survival, that the measure clearly needs updating so that people can get the help they need.

Click on the links below to explore how the poverty line was created, how it is evolving, the impact it has on the lives of poor people, and what the future is.

NPR discusses the relevance/impact of the poverty line

How the Census measures poverty

The nomenclature of poverty

The development of the Orshansky Poverty Thresholds and their subsequent history as the official U.S. poverty measure

2012 Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines

Fight for a higher floor for poverty. Write your congressman and say you want poverty guidelines and a poverty line that reflects the world of 2013 when housing is our biggest cost, not food.

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