By Sister Lillian Murphy, RSM | Mercy Housing CEO
My Colleagues in Hope…
Income mobility and intergenerational poverty is at the top of mind for many American economists, today. In fact, just this month four leading economists and their team of researchers released a study entitled The Economic Impact of Tax Expenditures which shows a connection between location and a person’s ability to climb the economic ladder. Other researchers have found strong connections between the zip code you live in and your chances of educational and financial success throughout life.
In previous studies of economic mobility, economists have found that a smaller percentage of people escape childhood poverty in the United States than in several other wealthy countries in the world. The latest study is consistent with those findings. This particular study focuses on the impact geography has on intergenerational poverty. Of particular interest to me was the fact that three regions of America where Mercy Housing has a presence were specifically mentioned in an article that accompanied the study.
According to the research, “Atlanta is one of the metropolitan areas where it is most difficult for lower-income households to rise into the middle class and beyond,” whereas some of the highest rates [of upward income mobility occur in… Seattle and large swaths of California.” In the Southeast, for example, our hope is that Mercy Housing’s presence might help level the playing field a bit by increasing the amount of disposable income a family has to spend on other necessities, since the rents will be below market.
Not surprisingly, other studies on the issues of intergenerational poverty have a found that education and family structure have a large effect on the chances that a child has to escape poverty. For a child, a stable home is a foundation upon which to build a successful life. A home is the freedom to study, to aspire, to strive and to dream. We don’t stop there, though. We take our commitment to the next level by helping, not only children, but their parents learn skills and gain perspectives that make those dreams of stability a reality through our onsite Resident Services.
At Mercy Housing, we are continually educating ourselves about the nature of poverty and economic trends in America. Arming ourselves with the right pieces of information is vital to our ongoing work to educate those in positions of power and access to resources. This information helps us to continue our work toward closing the gap between the supply and demand of affordable housing. This gap continues to grow because the wage gap continues to grow.
With so many different factors at play, our work may sometimes seem overwhelming but we can’t stop. With your dedication and our collective hope for a better world, we are making a difference… wherever a Mercy Housing resident might call home.
The challenges may be great. But I believe our combined potential is greater.
Live in Hope!
Sister Lillian Murphy, RSM
Mercy Housing CEO