Monday, December 10, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 40
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Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on August 8th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 23 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 23

Poor choices

I'm getting really weary of hearing the same tired, and frankly lazy talking points being regurgitated again and again, especially regarding problems that have only gotten worse.

Take poverty, a huge problem in Santa Barbara County, recently illustrated by the fact that we were placed at No. 3 of all the counties in the state for highest poverty rates (see page 7) in a report by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Poverty is tied to so many other complicated issues in the economic realm–inflation, wages, housing, unemployment, health care costs and access, property values, social services, crime–the list goes on and on. There's no basic explanation for all of this, and in fact, those simple excuses do nothing to get us closer to addressing the problem.

And what is the age-old excuse for so many living in poverty? "Poor people make poor choices!" It doesn't matter how you parrot that line, updating it with a reference to avocado toast, it still stinks.

What kind of choices do people living in poverty actually have? Not many. Most are working multiple jobs to get by, with both parents often working to support their kids. And many federal entitlement programs are only available if you meet the nationwide poverty level, which doesn't take into account the insane cost of living in California. Two working parents can make just enough to not qualify for aid but are still below the state's poverty level.

Many of those most affected by poverty are literally in no position to do anything about it. The childhood poverty rate in the county is 26 percent, according to the aforementioned report, which includes many in North County.

Sun reporters have heard from county Social Services officials about local kids who've never eaten at a sit-down restaurant, been to a movie, or played sports outside of school. City Council candidate Gloria Soto mentioned in her announcement for candidacy that 40 percent of the students at Robert Bruce Elementary School are essentially homeless.

There's no end to the complaints about homelessness during public comment at city council meetings, but what are our cities doing to help keep more people in their homes? Has anyone even heard of rent control?

And while I appreciate the letter from Dianne Martin (see page 12) replying to what I said two issues ago ("Must be nice," July 26), she missed the point I made completely. I'm not discouraging anyone from working hard, saving up, and buying property. I was pointing out the fact that fewer and fewer are able to do that.

Dianne said she's a senior citizen who makes some income from renting property, that's great! But she bought that property after saving up with essentially the same wages that people make today, even though there have been decades of inflation and rising costs of living. Rents are higher. Education costs more. Food is more expensive. Take a look at the gas prices.

The numbers don't lie. The national housing average as it stands now is 64 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The rate in Santa Barbara County? It was 50 percent as of 2016, according to state data. In 2000, the county homeownership rate was 56 percent. It was 52 percent in 2010.

See a pattern here? This bird does, and isn't going to blame those who are struggling without any resources or influence to do something about it. 

The Canary hopes to own a nest one day. Send your thoughts to canary@santamariasun.com.




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