More Minnesotans in Poverty

By Janel Klein
KARE 11 – September 14, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A three-bedroom house is something Yohannes Ayele only dreamed of, a student and father of three who struggles to pay his family’s bills on his nursing assistant salary.

“I don’t think I can find a word for it,” Ayele said. “It’s really tough.”

It’s also tough for more than a half million Minnesotans like Ayele who now live below the poverty line, defined as a single person making $11,344 a year or a family of four making $22,113 a year. According to the Census Bureau, almost 11 percent of the state lives in poverty, so poor they can’t afford the basics.

“People are choosing between health care and housing. They’re choosing between food and housing,” said Nancy Brady, Vice President of Resource Development and Community Relations for the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. “They can’t afford school supplies for kids. And half the things that we take for granted, a family in that income range just can’t consider.”

That’s why charities like Habitat for Humanity are seeing more people needing help, all of them families on a $30,000 annual income. This year it’s building 60 homes in the Twin Cities. But it took 1,500 calls this year alone.

“The economy hit a lot of people in tremendous ways,” said Colette King, who works for the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. “And with rising prices in gas and food, it’s all impacting families.”

Many who are just like the Ayeles, who, thanks to Habitat for Humanity, for the first time will have a house, and something more.

“It’s hope,” said King. “It’s a moment of hope.”

Poverty in Minnesota is on the rise, with a new report from the Census Bureau showing about a one percent jump in our state. But, Minnesota’s poverty rate is still 13th lowest in the nation.

The national poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent in 2010, the highest level since 1993.

More than 16 percent of Minnesotans do not have health insurance, which experts say is another good measure of poverty and recession.

Read the original story here.