On the Same Page: President-Elect Barack Obama and Legal Services

I know. It seems so obvious, right?

Okay, let’s back up and look at President-Elect Barack Obama’s War on Poverty found here.

Then let’s look at the points he’s making, with excerpts below:

The challenge is greater than it has been in generations, but that’s all the more reason for this generation to act. That’s an income of about $20,000 a year for a family of four. One in three Americans is now classified as low income.

What you learn when you spend time in these neighborhoods trying to solve these problems is that there are no easy solutions and no perfect arguments.

Hope is found in what works. One of the best examples of what works is New York City’s Harlem Children’s Zone, an all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck antipoverty effort that is literally saving a generation of children in a neighborhood where they were never supposed to have a chance. The philosophy behind the project is simple-if poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment, violence, failing schools, and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal the entire community.

His message is that we, as Americans, must wage a war on poverty. Poverty should not predetermine one’s achievement or station in life. He advocates that children should have access to an appropriate education and parents who are involved in their lives. Adults should have access to fair employment, health care, transportation and housing.

Ok, now we look at the message heard from South Carolina Legal Services and others at the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission’s final public hearing. South Carolina is home to a large population of people living in poverty.

  • Many of the children living in poverty are not receiving appropriate educations.
  • Many of the children living in poverty do not have both parents involved in their lives.
  • Many South Carolinians living in poverty are or have been denied employment based on discriminatory work practices.
  • Many South Carolinians living in poverty do not receive health care benefits that they are entitled to receive.
  • Many South Carolinians living in poverty do not have access totransportation, especially in rural areas.

Many South Carolinians living in poverty live in homes that are not safe, may be homeless or may have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous landlords or will soon be subject to foreclosure and/or eviction because of lack of ability to pay due to other issues such as sudden and serious illness and lack of health insurance, job loss, divorce.


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