Poverty in Lane County
Too many Lane County families struggle to meet their most basic needs.
- The Lane County poverty rate in 2010 was 19.1%, compared with the statewide Oregon poverty rate of 15.8%. Essentially one in five Lane County residents is now living at or below the poverty level.
- According to the 2012 United Way of Lane County Indicators Report, more than 50% of Lane County students are eligible for free or reduced lunches, and 44% of Lane County households are paying more than 30% of their income for rent.
- 1,751 homeless people were counted in Lane County during the 2013 One Night Homeless Count.
These numbers represent real people in very challenging circumstances:
- Jane and her daughter Brittany were living with Jane’s father. But when Jane’s father was killed in an auto accident, Jane and Brittany were unable to keep the house and ended up living in Jane’s car.
- Chuck is a single dad to his 6-year old son, Brandon. Chuck’s foot was badly injured in an accident, he lost his job, benefits ran out, and Chuck and Brandon had to move out of their apartment and now live in an RV.
- Claire was living in an apartment with her boyfriend. However, the relationship soured and he became physically abusive. She got out of the abusive relationship but ended up homeless and living on the street.
These are not just stories of personal disaster and disappointment for people like Jane, Chuck and Claire. The poverty that underlies these stories is a serious economic and social problem for the entire Lane County community. More people in poverty means more people in need of safety-net services, fewer people paying taxes, fewer dollars being spent for local goods and services, and greater social tension.
Addressing the problem of poverty in a more effective way is not just good for those who are poor, it is also critical for the kind of economic and community development that makes Lane County a better place for all of us.