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Living on the Edge: Voices of Poverty in America

Monday, May 15, 2023 at 7 PM

Over a third of Americans lack sufficient savings to handle a $400 emergency. In this revealing public radio documentary from Humankind (in association with WGBH, Boston), we consider the plight of tens of millions living on the edge of poverty in the United States. They may be among your family members or neighbors.

Most of us hold misconceptions about who is struggling to get by on low income, and whether the social safety net — intended to safeguard people who fall on hard times — is actually adequate.

We visit food pantries to discuss these conditions with patrons who line up for a limited supply of groceries — among them young mothers, older adults, the working poor and people with disabilities. The number of folks using these services has noticeably increased as the Covid-19 crisis has tapered off. At the same time, emergency benefits for many families have been scaled back.

You’ll hear from Mark Rank, author of The Poverty Paradox and professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis; Kisha Davis, MD, the Health Officer for Montgomery County, Maryland; members of the Poor People’s Campaign, who testified before Congress, including Rev. William Barber II; and brief excerpts from powerful movies dramatizing this theme.

And we listen back to how government aid to low-income Americans has been politicized from the enactment of Social Security in 1935 to the debate over newer protections in the Affordable Care Act.