Poverty Alleviation Fact Sheet

Poverty in America: A Glance into the Data

With a national poverty threshold set at $23,850 in 2014, nearly 46.7 million (14.8%) Americans lived in conditions of poverty that year. Just over 21% of those people were children and 10% were seniors. You may be wondering what it means to live in poverty and who else those figures encompass. Take a look at some of our facts below to find out.

Key Statistics:

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The Center for American Progress reports that more women than men live in poverty.

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According to the Pew Research Center, the South was home to the greatest number of people who are poor in 2014, making up 41.1% of the nations poverty rate.

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In dialogue about poverty, income is often the primary identifier of who is considered poor because the national poverty threshold is based on income. However, when we consider wealth development as well, we see the gap between lower- and upper-income Americans grow wider. Wealth includes savings in the form of IRAs, savings accounts, pensions, and other money-storing devices.

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Government Funded Social Programs:*

  • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
  • Head Start (child care)
  • WIC (Women, Infants, and Children)
  • Medicaid (healthcare)

*For a full list of government funded programs, visit The Economic Progress Institute.

The Economic Policy Institute purports that wealth, as well as other factors, must also be considered to determine the nation’s poverty rate. To find out more about national poverty figures and how the U.S. ranks against other nations, look through the State of Working America report.

To learn the myriad ways that the Heller School for Social Policy and Management is dedicated to alleviating poverty, visit the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. Stay tuned for information on a variety of policies and programs and their impact on people living in poverty.

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Anna Mahathey
MPP/M.A. in Women and Gender Studies
Poverty Alleviation Concentrator


FACT SHEET: Trans Inclusive Shelters Are Imperative for Transgender Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Img TwoTransgender is an umbrella term for individuals whose sex assigned at birth (male, female) does not match their gender identity or gender expression. Some examples are male-to-female (MtF) and female-to-male (FtM) trans people.


Every year approximately 1.7 million youths identify as homeless, whether they left home voluntarily or were made homeless involuntarily, according to the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children. Of these 1.7 million, 20-40% identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT).1


Studies also show that LGBT youth, once homeless, experience higher rates of negative outcomes than their heterosexual/heteronormative counterparts, such as mental health issues, sexual violence victimization, and higher rates of attempted suicide.2 


  •  1 in 5 transgender people report experiencing homelessness at least once in in their lifetime
  • Over 40% of transgender people experiencing/facing homelessness are forced to stay in a shelter living as the wrong gender
  • 22% of transgender people facing homeless report being sexually assaulted from staff or other residents in shelters
  • 29% transgender youth experiencing homelessness report being turned away from a shelter due to their transgender status


In 2000, the National Alliance to End Homelessness put out a call to action to end homelessness in the U.S. in ten years through a strategic plan. Multiple federally funded initiatives have arisen to address the issue of homelessness. Some programs include the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, and the Health Care for the Homeless program.4

In 2015 the reauthorization of RHYA FAILED to pass the Senate.

A comprehensive federal strategy to address homelessness in the United States named Opening Doors was presented to the Office of the President and Congress in 2010. One goal of this initiative is to now end youth homelessness by 2020.5


Past initiatives to prevent and reduce rates of homelessness among youths have had NO provisions that prevent discrimination based on gender identity/expression.

This leaves transgender youth vulnerable as they are at greater risk to experience homelessness and experience physical harm when seeking traditional supports for homeless youth, such as shelters.


Urge legislators to pass the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2015.6 This Act prohibits discrimination based on perceived or actual gender identity/expression from any program that receives funding from the Act.

Demand culturally appropriate care for youth experiencing homelessness by requiring sensitivity training for all shelter operators and workers.

Oliver Supitux
MPP ’17
Children, Youth, and Families Concentrator

1National Alliance to End Homelessness (2012). “An Emerging Framework for Ending Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness.” Retrieved from http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/an-emerging-framework-for-ending-unaccompanied-youth-homelessness

2Ray, N. (2006). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless. Retrieved from http://www.thetaskforce.org/static_html/downloads/reports/reports/HomelessYouth.pdf

3Mottet, L., & Ohle, J. (2003). Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People. New York: The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute

4National Alliance to End Homeless (2010). “Fact Sheet: Questions and Answers on Homelessness Policy and Research.” Retrieved from http://www.endhomelessness.org/page/-/files/1786_file_Fact_Sheet_TYP_2_1_2010.pdf

5United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. (Amended 2015). Opening Doors. Washington D.C. Retrieved from https://www.usich.gov/resources/uploads/asset_library/USICH_OpeningDoors_Amendment2015_FINAL.pdf

6H.R.1779, 114 Congress (2015)

At a Glance: Children, Youth, and Families in the United States

Picture1According to the U.S. Census children and youth under the age of 18 make up over 23% of the population. As such a large proportion of our population, the focus on children and families is vital to successful achievement for the U.S. in economic, health, and education measures in a global market. However, the state of children and families is far from ideal in the United States.

A Pew study found that over 60% of two-parent households report that both parents work full or part time. Despite this increase in dual income households, the number of children living in poverty is a serious issue in the United States.  The KIDS COUNT data center reports that 22% of children were living in poverty in 2014. Black or African, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian children proved to have higher rates of living in poverty than the national average.


In 2015, KIDS COUNT released their data book on the state and national trends in child well-being across four main domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2015). The 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book. Baltimore, MD: The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project. Retrieved from www.aecf.org.

Other Key Statistics

  • The rate of youth (16-24) who are detained, incarcerated, or placed in a residential facility has decreased in recent years. However, the U.S. still locks up more youth than any other developed country.
  • In January 2015, 564,708 people were homeless on a given night in the United States
    • Over 30% of these individuals are 24 years of age or younger
    • 40% of all youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ
  • In July of 2015, 8 million youth ages 16-24 were unemployed with an unemployment rate of 12.2%, more than double the national average

For more information on the role the Heller School for Social Policy and Management plays in children, youth, and family policy, please visit the Center for Youth and Communities.

Oliver Supitux
MPP ’17
Children, Youth, and Families Concentrator