Rev. Dr. Norval Brown is the pastor of the Thornton United Methodist Church in Thornton, IL and the Grace United Protestant Church in Park Forest, IL.
Yes, we read in the newspaper about the decisions the poor have to make: Do we pay the rent? Do we buy groceries? How about shoes and clothes for the children? These and other questions are pointed out as the plight of the poor, but we pay no heed to them because we are not exposed to the harsh reality in which our brothers and sisters live.
Take a look at the map below for just a moment. It converts the reality of their lives and their decisions into something we can easily understand - numbers! The high number of hours that an individual making minimum wage has to work simply to afford a two-bedroom unit - a space for mother and father and children - is outrageous and cries out for social change. The average number of hours a minimum wage worker in Illinois must work to afford a 2-bedroom unit at Fair Market Rent (30% of income) is 81 hours. That's two weeks just to pay the rent.
Raising the minimum wage so that it at least approaches a living wage is a first step. A look at the numbers tells it all.
Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition | Out of Reach 2012
For more information, check out Out of Reach 2012 by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.