Topic:
CENSUS; HOMELESS; JUVENILES; POVERTY; STATISTICAL INFORMATION;
Location:
COST OF LIVING; HOMELESS; JUVENILES;

OLR Research Report


July 7, 2008

 

2008-R-0384

POVERTY, HOMELESSNESS, AND CHILDREN

By: Ryan F. O'Neil, Research Assistant

You asked about the definition of poverty and how many people and how many children are living in poverty in Connecticut. You also wanted to know how many homeless people and homeless children there are in Connecticut.

POVERTY

The U.S. Census Bureau defines poverty according to income levels. As family sizes increases, the income level defining poverty increases. Table 1 shows the Census Bureau's poverty levels for different household sizes. The thresholds do not vary geographically. They are updated annually according for inflation to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. While other government measures of poverty, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' standard, might reflect a person's ability to survive, the Census Bureau's numbers simply serve as a statistical yardstick. The federal government originally generated poverty thresholds in 1964 by multiplying by three the U.S. Department of Agriculture food budgets for families under financial stress.

Table 1: U.S. Census Bureau Poverty Thresholds for 2007 by Size of Family and Number of Related Children Under 18 Years

100 Percent of Poverty Level

Size of family unit

Number of Related children under 18 years

None

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight or more

One person (unrelated individual)

                 

Under 65 years

$10,787

               

65 years and over

$9,944

               

Two persons

                 

Householder under 65 years

$13,884

14,291

             

Householder 65 years and over

$12,533

14,237

             

Three persons

$16,218

16,689

16,705

           

Four persons

$21,386

21,736

21,027

21,100

         

Five persons

$25,791

26,166

25,364

24,744

24,366

       

Six persons

$29,664

29,782

29,168

28,579

27,705

27,187

     

Seven persons

$34,132

34,345

33,610

33,098

32,144

31,031

29,810

   

Eight persons

$38,174

38,511

37,818

37,210

36,348

35,255

34,116

33,827

 

Nine persons or more

$45,921

46,143

45,529

45,014

44,168

43,004

41,952

41,691

40,085

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Table 2 shows the number and percent of people and children living in Connecticut living at various percentages of the federal poverty level as defined by the Census Bureau.

Table 2: Number and Percentage of Total and Youth Connecticut Populations Living at or below the Federal Poverty Level

Federal Poverty Level

Total Population

Children

Number

Percent of Population

Number

Percent of Population

100%

275,000

8.0

84,000

10.3

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

HOMELESS

The number of homeless people has proven difficult to count precisely. People may move from shelter to shelter or location to location or might simply hide from those doing the counting.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development completed a national count in 2007 by examining the surveys conducted by local authorities of people staying in shelters during a three-month period in 2005. Local counts during single nights were conducted of those in shelters and those living outside.

The survey found there were 5,175 homeless people in Connecticut. Of those, 367 were unaccompanied children under 18-years-old. There were 4,122 total households and 618 of those were families with children. There were 1,671 people in those 618 families.

This report received widespread criticism for its perceived under-reporting of the problem of homelessness. Critics said the survey missed those who might have been able to afford a motel room for a night, living temporarily with family, and those who remained out of sight during the count.

RO:ts