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Challenges the poor face in North America

August 18, 2022

Challenges the poor face in North America

Even though North America has two of the largest economies in the world (the USA and Canada), there is a significant number of poor living in North America. Across Central and North America, more than 98 million people are living in poverty. However, the definition of poverty in North America varies from country to country based on the standard of living and other socio-economic factors.

To understand poverty better, we can divide the poor into 2 categories- Deliberate poverty and unintentional poverty.

Deliberate poverty

No one chooses to be poor, but one’s own actions can push people into poverty. Reasons for this could be addictions, indebtedness, wrong professional decisions, and incarceration for any reason.

Unintentional poverty

Here, people face poverty due to reasons beyond their control. This could be sickness, unemployment, disasters, loss of assets, or death of an earning member.

Regardless of the reason to be poor, we need to help people in need. However, not all are fortunate enough to get help from the government or any other entity.
The poor face numerous challenges when they’re poor-

Lack of social security– Though the US and Canada have robust social security measures in place, not all countries in North America have such social security systems. Even if they do, many people aren’t aware of it. Sometimes social security is not enough to cover daily expenses. That’s why food stamps and soup kitchens are crucial to feeding the poor.

Mounting debts– Due to unexpected expenses for health, damage to assets, or loss of livelihood, the poor are forced to borrow heavily. For many in the US, this means high credit card debt that keeps piling up. Many times, the income is not enough to cover these debts, resulting in people cutting corners to survive. Those who are addicted to vices like drugs, alcohol, or gambling also tend to be poor as most of the resources are channeled towards these vices.

Corruption– Though the US and Canada are relatively corruption-free, other countries in Central America are notoriously corrupt. The poor can’t afford to pay bribes to get crucial government aid. They remain poor as they do not get a chance to help themselves.

Threat to family– When they are indebted, loan sharks constantly threaten the poor to pay up or give up something in return. Many of these poor do not know how to handle the situation. Some poverty-stricken people from Mexico and Central America try to flee to the US or Canada, others have to stay back to take care of family or land.

Living in toxic environments– The rural poor sometimes have to face health problems due to consuming contaminated water, food, or air. They fall sick often and have to depend on charity to survive. Those who can, leave their homes and settle elsewhere, while others who aren’t that fortunate have to stay back and continue to live in an environment that affects their health.

Wrapping Up

Even though Canada and the US have robust social security systems, there are still millions who live in poverty across the US, Canada, and other places in North and Central America. Here at the Catholic Connect Foundation, we help the poor get access to their share of resources to the best of our abilities.