GEORGIA LIVES IN POVERTY

Homelessness

Contributor: Darion Reed

The Wrong Headlines:

In recent months, the state of Georgia has been in the headlines for election malfeasance and draconian bills that limit access to abortion. Poor decision making has left the fate of our $9 billion film industry hanging in the balance along with the trust of our state and local government. However, what has not made the headlines is poverty in Georgia where the cost of living has skyrocketed over the past few years. Economic Development in the state has been touted by our local leaders, and we are constantly referred to as the best place to do business, but there is a tale of two Georgia’s when we dive deeper into what jobs are coming and where they are going. High-paying jobs that require people with high-level skills are skewed heavily to the Metro Atlanta area, and often go to transplants, rather than people who are natives of the area.

Low-wage warehouse and retail service jobs are the central jobs coming into the state, but they are not enough for those seeking a living wage. Georgia’s appalling minimum wage of $5.15 along with mediocre income levels do not match the increased cost of living.

“Economic development in the state has been touted by our local leaders, and we are constantly referred to as the best place to do business, but there is a tale of two Georgia’s when we dive deeper into what jobs are coming and where they are going.”

Poverty in Georgia, specifically in suburban and rural Georgia is a problem not getting the attention or discussion necessary to improve the situation. More importantly, when public safety employees are not getting paid enough to live in the counties where they work and some qualify for food stamps. Georgia living in poverty is affecting everyone and failure of this matter not in the headlines aides in the vicious cycle.

Poverty in the Suburbs and Rural Georgia:

The further away you go from Metro Atlanta, the poverty issue is a hidden problem in rural and suburban Georgia. Rural Georgia suffered greatly during the recession of 2007-2008 and have never truly recovered. Major counties like Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, Cherokee, and Henry have more workers than they did before the recession, however, 92 Georgia counties have not returned to their pre-recession workforce, most of them rural, and a staggering 75 Georgia counties have fewer workers before the recession. The stagnating wages, lack of opportunity, and failure to invest in meaningful infrastructure has created a housing crisis. Sidebar: in a recent report, housing developers are not building housing lower than 200k in some of these suburban and rural counties, but the only industries in these counties are retail, service, manufacturing jobs and public safety workers are not being paid enough to afford to live in the counties where they work.

When discussing jobs, the pay rate and the cost of living, this includes public safety workers often left out of this topic.

“Sidebar: in a recent report, housing developers are not building housing lower than 200k in some of these suburban and rural counties, but the only industries in these counties are retail, service, manufacturing jobs and public safety workers are not being paid enough to afford to live in the counties where they work.”

A reason for the lack of affordable housing or the new term workforce housing is developers not building affordable homes and local/county governments approving these developments. Not only are people who work in a factory, service, retail jobs affected, but public service workers-law enforcement, firefighters and first responders in suburban counties not being paid enough to afford a house to live in the county where they work are being affected. When it comes to quality jobs and housing affordability there is a major inconsistency in pay which the state and local/county government ignores.

“Not only are people who work in a factory, service, retail jobs affected, but public service workers-law enforcement, firefighters and first responders in suburban counties not being paid enough to afford a house to live in the county where they work are being affected.”

Decisions, Decisions:

The state of Georgia’s stubborn decision to not expand Medicaid has also contributed to this crisis. Rural hospitals have closed around the state, health outcomes for women and children in these areas are reaching epidemic levels and the new waiver for Medicaid program will cost more and cover fewer people. Potential employers see these dire conditions and decide to not invest in these communities because they fail to see the potential in those that live here. What we need as Georgians are leaders who are genuinely concerned about workers and about uplifting those in poverty from rural, suburban, and inside the city limits of our state’s biggest urban centers.

In a state that has a rich and diverse economy, it is time for that prosperity to be shared more evenly throughout this state, and it starts with us standing up, demanding more, and electing leaders who see and hear our experiences and struggles, and have plans to close the immense gap in quality of life in this state.

Sources:

https://accesswdun.com/article/2017/1/493725/homeless-county-gets-underway-in-gainesville-hall-county

https://www.gpbnews.org/post/helping-homeless-georgia

 

 

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