Poverty expected to see record increase

The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Barack Obama's watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty.

Census figures for 2009 â" the recession-ravaged first year of the Democrat's presidency â" are to be released in the coming week, and demographers expect grim findings.

It's unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections when control of Congress is at stake. The anticipated poverty rate increase â" from 13.2 percent to about 15 percent â" would be another blow to Democrats struggling to persuade voters to keep them in power.

But those numbers are only about half of what people in Southwest Georgia are going through.

"We're looking at a 27 percent -- and that is within the city limits -- poverty rate. And that is pretty substantial," said Harriet Hollis, Coordinator of Strive to Thrive, a program aiming to eradicate poverty in Albany. "Both parents can be working at minimum wage and still be considered poverty stricken. So the reality is that we have got to raise the skill level. We have got to embrace these families with resources to help them live a better quality of life."

Administrators at the Albany Rescue Mission say they have also been seeing an increase in the number of people coming to their food pantry.

"We have people that come here. They had a good job. They don't have a drug problem. They didn't have an alcohol problem. They just didn't have a place to live," said Larry Hample, of the Albany Rescue Mission. "When people think of a rescue mission they just say oh you have a bunch of alcoholics and drug addicts down there. Not quite."