Nearly one in three children in Bridgeport, Connecticut lives in a family with an income at or below the federal poverty level -- $17,600 for a family of three, more than twice the statewide rate in all of Connecticut. Living in poverty puts children at greater risk for disease, poor nutrition, poor school performance, homelessness, violence and abuse.
- Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, “State of the Child Report”
In lower Fairfield County the living wage needed to modestly support a family of four is $32 per hour. Often, the working poor earn only Connecticut's minimum wage. To afford a modest one bedroom apartment at this wage, they need to work 167 hours in a week. With only 168 hours existing in a week, they would have to work non-stop, both day and night, for all seven days in the week. Faced with this dilemma, many must make a choice between eating and paying the rent. In this environment, they are forced to obtain food via shelters, soup kitchens, and food pantries. In Connecticut, one out of every five children is hungry or at risk of hunger. In lower Fairfield County, the need for emergency food has doubled in volume in just the past two years.
- Food bank of lower Fairfield County
Short term economic problems are the most common cause of homelessness in the community. With jobs harder to come by and household incomes dropping dramatically, there is a resulting increase in the number of people with dire economic emergencies. Sudden and/or sustained unemployment leaves individuals and families unable to afford the basic needs of food, clothing and rent. Once in this precarious position, those who lack adequate support systems are unable to secure basic needs. In the ultimate extreme, the loss of housing results in homelessness.
- Fairfield Citizen News, National Coalition for the Homeless
The “achievement gap”—the persistent and significant disparity between the academic achievement of low-income and minority children and their white, middle-class peers—is the biggest social and economic problem of any kind facing Connecticut. In a competitive global economy, this translates into an unaffordable loss for the students involved and for their communities. As the state with the largest achievement gap between rich and poor students in the nation, the costs for Connecticut are high. For instance, Connecticut is 50th out of 50 states in long-term job growth; has the second highest juvenile incarceration rate for Hispanic males and the third-highest for African American males; experienced the largest increase in income inequality in the nation since 1988; and, in 2007, for the first time ever, spent more on its prisons than on its public higher education system.
- Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, “State of the Child Report”, CONNCAN