BALTIMORE (BP)--It's an economic reality. The poor are becoming poorer. Amid the economic downturn, people with little education are losing entry-level service jobs to high school and college graduates. With dwindling opportunities to work, the poverty-stricken often wind up roaming the streets in a survival mode that often includes drugs, crime and despair.
Bill Simpson's office, nestled in a row house in what he calls the "poorest neighborhood in Maryland" -- Baltimore's McElderry Park -- is surrounded by distress.
Within one-third mile of Simpson's office, 846 households scrape by on less than $15,000 a year -- 30 percent below the U.S. poverty level for a family of four. Reach out to two-thirds of a mile and the number triples to 2,559 households.
"In any given month, about 60 percent are unemployed. Our high school dropout rate is over 65 percent, and our teen pregnancy rate exceeds 80 percent," says Simpson, executive director of Open Door Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing families and neighborhoods on Baltimore's lower east side.
"Business as usual won't get it done ... Read More