The Washington Post reported today on something we know all too well here at Bread for the City:
The poorer you are, the more things cost.The article acknowledges that this is a subject that the media rarely considers. Like how the poor don’t have the means to get to suburban grocery stores or warehouse chains, like Costco. Also reported are the sapping effects of being “unbanked”: when you must turn to a check cashing store to redeem your paycheck, you’re going to lose a hefty chunk of it in the process.
I asked Bread for the City staffers about other ways that our clients see their precious few resources sapped:
- Transportation. Low-income people often must travel farther to work. The article noted that this often involves inordinate amounts of time spent waiting for buses, etc. Not reported are changes like the recent bus transfer ticket phase-out, which also have an inordinate impact on the poor: riders now need a SmarTrip card in order to transfer from one bus to the next, so the cards are a new expense and become subject to theft.
- Energy. Many of our clients live in old buildings with poor insulation, old windows, leakages, etc. Bread for the City offers some utility assistance through FEMA, and we can attest to seeing bills that are far more expensive than our own.
- Medication. Without good insurance, the cost of prescription drugs alone can sap an entire pension check.
- Child care. To survive on low wages in an expensive city, most people need to work very long hours at two or even three jobs. In turn, much of a working mother’s pay check is spent on keeping her children cared for in her absence.