Dallas Study Finds More at Risk of Poverty Than Most Realize

 February 23, 2012; Source: Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Morning News recently introduced a brief but forceful editorial on the issue of financial security with a question for readers: “If you suddenly lost your job, could you come up with enough money to support your household for three months at a level that would keep the family from falling below the federal poverty mark?” If not, the editors added, “you are asset-poor and among the 39 percent of Dallas residents who live on this financial cliff.” With urban and suburban poverty on the rise throughout the U.S., the editorial is interesting because it reinforces the creative ways that nonprofits are already responding to these new challenges.

The report, “Assets and Opportunities Profile: Dallas,” was produced by the Corporation for Enterprise Development and sponsored by the Communities Foundation of Texas and the Thomson Family Foundation. It depicts a “Dallas where many people face financial vulnerability that was not previously understood.” The goal of the report, according to Communities Foundation president and CEO Brent Christopher, is to help local nonprofits to “tailor their specific programs to have a more effective impact on the poverty issues in Dallas.”

According to the Dallas Morning News, the North Texas Food Bank is one nonprofit that has been responding effectively to the city’s recent changes, shifting its focus from emergency food supplies to more long-term aid. The organization’s website, which comes with the tagline “Rethink Hunger,” notes that the “lingering effects of a bad economy continue to bring new faces of hunger to our doors, many for the first time in their lives, and through no fault of their own.”

In response to the report, the Communities Foundation recently announced a new grant program for Dallas nonprofits serving the working poor to participate in a year-long leadership program focusing on program development and data analysis. –Anne Eigeman