The U.S. Census Bureau puts the number of Americans in poverty at levels not seen since the mid-1960s when President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the federal government’s so-called War on Poverty. As President Barack Obama began his second term in January, nearly 50 million Americans — one in six — were living below the income line that defines poverty, according to the bureau. A family of four that earns less than $23,021 a year is listed as living in poverty. The bureau said 20 percent of the country’s children are poor.
Although it is far from the country’s poorest city, Baltimore’s poverty rate far outstrips the national average of one in six.
Mary Anne O’Donnell, director of community services at Catholic Charities of Baltimore, said increasing income inequality has shown itself dramatically during the U.S. downturn.
“In the last three years, there’s been a great change in the kinds of people we are serving. There are increasing numbers of people who owned a home, lost their jobs, end up living in their car and are coming with children to our soup kitchen,” she said.