Topeka One in four Kansans don't make enough income to meet their basic needs, according to a report released today.
"More and more working Kansas families are living on the edge," said Tawny Stottlemire, executive director of the Kansas Association of Community Action Programs.
The report said Kansas has lost 40,000 well-paying jobs since 1999, 13 percent of Kansans have no health insurance and many impoverished Kansans must pay too much for rent and child care.
One of the group's major complaints was that the federal government's income-eligibility requirements for assistance were too low.
For example, a single parent with one child must make below $12,490 per year to qualify for assistance.
But a "basic family needs budget" for that family living in a city is $28,050, the group said.
Lori Woods, a single parent of two children, who works in Girard, said she makes too much to qualify for assistance, but not enough to get ahead.
"It has been a constant struggle to keep myself and my family out of poverty," Woods said at a news conference.
The group called for a summit of key leaders in Kansas next year to put together a plan to eradicate poverty.
It also recommended an increase in the federal minimum wage and continued support for Head Start and federal housing subsidies.
On the state level, the group wants increased subsidies for child care, initiation of a low- to moderate-income home mortgage program and increased outreach to enroll people into Medicaid and Health Wave.
The leader of the community action agency that serves the Lawrence area said poverty is increasing among the "working poor."
"We are seeing more people seeking assistance who have never before asked for anything in their life," said Richard Jackson of Ottawa, who is executive director of East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp. Inc.
(To download a copy of Living on the Edge: A report on the State of Low-Income Working Kansas Families, go to www.kacap.org)