In the United States there is a category known as “deep poverty,” defined in a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer as: “income of 50% or less of the poverty rate.” In other words, the current poverty level income for a U.S. family of four is $24,000 a year, which means that the same family receiving only $12,000 is in deep poverty. At this level, hopelessness prevails and one’s day-to-day goal is just staying alive.
The deep poverty rate for the United States as a whole is 6.8 percent of the population. Using the rounded-off 2014 census figure of 322 million residents, that comes to about 22 million men, women and children in deep poverty. This is a pretty shocking figure for what most regard as the richest country on earth.
In Chicago, about 274,000 people this year—or 10 percent of the city’s population—fit the definition. Seven Chicago communities, all of them predominately black, have the highest percentage of residents living in deep poverty, according to an analysis of Census data by the Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance, an anti-poverty organization in Chicago.