The number of people living below the poverty level has increased exponentially in recent years as assistance has been cut time after time and so many jobs that once provided a livable income have left the State.
Opinions based on stereotypes, not facts, prevent us from really working together to find the solutions we need to end poverty.
We need to provide living wage jobs, affordable housing, transportation, child care and health care. That’s what will help lift people out of poverty.
Peggy is a 54 year old woman from Kennebec County who raised her children as a single mom while both working and attending college.
Peggy understands well what it means to live in poverty, and what it will take to eliminate it. Peggy believes that we need to focus on building bridges to opportunity. She thinks that all Maine people should have access to affordable healthcare and housing in order to access opportunity and get ahead. She also believes that jobs should pay enough so that families are able to support themselves.
Peggy, like most Maine people, believes that increasing wages will provide a bridge out of poverty. Six of seven people with low incomes (86%) and seven of ten people in the general public (70%) support raising the minimum wage as a way to reduce poverty. This makes sense. Jobs don’t pay enough and people are unable to stretch their low wages to cover the cost of living and Peggy knows this first hand. She has worked at multiple jobs from big box stores to her most recent work with children with autism. It has always been a struggle to keep up with her student loan debt as well as general living expenses on her low wages.
Like the majority of Mainers with low income and the general public, Peggy also sees affordable healthcare as a bridge to opportunity and out of poverty. A strong majority of both Maine residents with low income (91%) and the general public (71%) agree that expanded access to affordable health care is an effective strategy to reduce poverty in Maine. Peggy appreciates the importance of staying healthy because her health problems limit her ability to work full-time. Health care costs are also a big challenge for Peggy—as she worries about whether she’ll be able to afford her prescription medication month to month.
Peggy believes we should move beyond blaming people and stereotyping and we should roll up our sleeves and get to work creating opportunities for every Mainer.