Poverty rate increases in the south

Southern region has significant increase in number of people living in poverty. / Jessica Fairley

New data released from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the median household income has declined, while the poverty rate in the country increased.

Reports show this is the third consecutive year for a climb in the poverty level.

The south is the only region in the nation to show a significant increase in both the poverty rate and the number of people living poverty.

The percentage of people considered in these categories rose from 15.7 percent in 2009 to 16.9 percent in 2010.

As the nation battles through a recession, more and more families are finding themselves struggling just to survive. Census numbers show the poverty rate is now the highest than it's been in nearly twenty years and southwest Georgia officials say requests for help are on the rise.

"We receive anywhere from 5 to 10 application each week and we are noticing that that number seems to be increasing as families are just looking for resources to get ahead," said Ausha Jackson, Strive 2 Thrive Program Coordinator.

Strive 2 Thrive is an organization set up to help people get back on their feet. She says during this recession people are looking for a hand up and not a handout, only wanting to better themselves and their family's situation. However, she admits, it can be hard when the numbers are against them.

Local officials say they see the increase and it's become a concern. Organizations like the Salvation Army and Strive 2 Thrive say they're doing their best to help out every day.

"Last year we served 19,000 meals. This past most recent year we served 33,000 meals and this year we are already charted to serve more than that," said Captain Doug McClure, Salvation Army Corps Officer.

He says although poverty is a concern in the Albany area, the issue of homelessness is also a major problem. McClure says there are a lot of people who may not fit the mold of a traditional homeless person, yet they fall into that category. He says this is where "A Place for Hope" comes in handy.

"It provides laundry service, it provides showers, resource appointments to help you get back on your feet and figure out what your next step is," said Captain McClure.

Although southwest Georgia has resources available to those in need, those programs won't solve all of the poverty issues.

"It's definitely not a quick fix. It's not something that we can resolve overnight," said Ausha Jackson.

There are numerous other programs in place to help people in the metro Albany area get out of poverty, but officials say everything is easier said than done.