Facts about poverty

What is Generational Poverty? How does it affect our community?

Generational Poverty is defined as a family having lived in poverty for at least two generations. It is important to understand the difference between Generational Poverty and Situational Poverty.

A person/family can experience Situational Poverty when their income and support is decreased due to a specific changejob loss, divorce, death, etc. While there can be a domino effect caused by this one significant change, families experiencing Situational Poverty tend to remain hopeful, knowing that this is a temporary setback. This typically is not so with generational poverty.


Key Factors Associated with Generational Poverty

1. Hopelessness

Most people think of poverty as lacking financial resources to meet basic living requirements. Families dealing with Generational Poverty are also challenged with three other forms of poverty:

  • Educational Poverty
  • Parental Poverty
  • Spiritual Poverty

The cumulative effect of these different forms of poverty sometimes creates the most damaging outcome of Generational Povertythe constant presence of Hopelessness.

Hopelessness is the key factor in creating the cycleone generation to the next. Without hope and the belief that life can be better, the motivation and energy needed to break the cycle are very low.

2. Surviving vs. Planning

People caught in the cycle of Generational Poverty are focused on surviving. They are focused on the issue/challenge facing them today. It may be money for food, finding a place to live, dealing with family member’s issues, unresolved health issues, etc. This is a daily
experienceeach day presenting itself with another issue, another challenge. All of this is done under the cloak of urgency. The concept of planning typically doesn’t exist, due in part because planning is tied to the belief that the individual has sufficient control of their life.

3. Values and Patterns

The values of those caught in the Generational Poverty cycle are very different from those who have grown up middle class. Generational Poverty values will center more on survival and short–term outcomes. In comparison, generally, middle class values encompass education, work and being perceived as a productive member of society. In Generational Poverty, it is also possible that counterproductive traditions are passed down such as low emphasis on education.