Poverty Rate Holds On Stubbornly

January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month

According to a report issued last year, 15 percent of Illinoisans were living in poverty in 2012, a figure that mirrors national poverty statistics. And poverty levels in the suburbs have grown to match those in Chicago.

At Metropolitan Family Services, more than 80 percent of the clients we see live under the poverty line. That is, they have household incomes under $20,000. Last year, we helped 63,000 individuals in Chicago and surrounding suburbs with vital services they need, but otherwise couldn’t afford.

Equipping individuals and families economically through job training and financial/employment services is a priority at Metropolitan. Read about Gabby, one of our clients who is on the road to financial and educational success.

“You have to have the initiative to go out and get it.” That’s advice from 21-year-old Gabrielle, a client of the Center for Working Families. Those are words she lives by. Gabrielle knows a thing or two about determination.

A student at Kennedy-King College, ‘Gabby’ came to the Center for Working Families in January 2011 for help finding a job. She came to the right place. Gabby currently works three jobs—at the college bookstore, Walgreens and Midwest Security—all while attending classes.

The Center for Working Families is a career and personal financial service center on the campus of Kennedy-King College, one of many economic stability programs at Metropolitan. It offers an innovative framework of integrated employment, financial education and income support services.

Two weeks of job readiness services at the Center included helping Gabby compile her resume, conducting mock interviews and even giving her wardrobe advice. She also met with Vincent Perry, a financial coach, who helped her budget to build savings, establish credit and learn financial responsibility.

Gabby went from not having a FICO credit score at all, due to an insufficient credit history, to an impressive 625 FICO score in less than one year. “A good credit rating is important because it shows you’re responsible,” says Gabby, “and you might get your house for a lower interest rate.” More than half of Vincent’s clients either establish credit histories for the first time or improve their scores.

“Usually getting this younger generation to save and understand the importance of having good credit is a hard sell,” Vincent said. “But Gabby is young and saving.”

Contact Us to find out more and to learn how you can help us make a difference in the lives of so many.