Rural poverty

November 14, 2014; Daily Mail (Hudson, NY)

Next week is the annual meeting of the Housing Assistance Council, one of the nation’s premier rural advocacy organizations. This author will be speaking on a panel examining rural philanthropy (natch!) amidst many sessions exploring exactly what is happening—or not happening—in rural America. Rural nonprofits know all too well the challenges they face, but many non-rural nonprofits may not.

  • Homelessness: Few people associate the homeless with rural America, but truth be told, there are many rural homeless, and typically they are more hidden, less visible, less concentrated, and frequently less well served than the homeless in cities. In tiny Beattyville, Kentucky, community residents have been trying to create a shelter for the area’s homeless without success. In largely rural Greene and Columbia counties in New York, homeless persons can be found sleeping in cars, even baseball dugouts, or wandering through 24-hour convenience stores, according to Florence Ohle, the executive director of Community Action of Greene County. Crook County, Oregon, has 20,000 people, including about 200 homeless persons. How much support do rural nonprofits get for rural homelessness? It’s hard to imagine that rural groups get the kind of help they need to address the distinctive problem of rural homelessness.
  • Healthcare: The rural healthcare challenges appear to be getting worse. A recent report on healthcare in rural North Carolina reflects conditions across rural America: “North Carolinians living in rural areas are less likely to have access to health services, are more likely to