The Coalition for Low Income Pennsylvanians (CLIP), which advocates on behalf of the poor in Pennsylvania, commends Salena Zito for her column “Fayette County, Philly have poverty in common” (Feb. 10 and TribLIVE.com).
Ms. Zito is correct in identifying that poverty doesn't distinguish between rural and urban poor, nor among black, white or Hispanic populations. Indeed, rural poverty is a problem in Pennsylvania, tending to be hidden not just for lack of concentration, but because of shame among individuals and families fearing they will be judged by their neighbors and communities.
While Fayette County has one of the highest poverty rates, there are 14 other mostly rural counties with rates of 15 percent or higher. Twenty-two mostly rural counties, including Fayette, have child poverty rates over 20 percent.
Many Pennsylvanians continue to view poverty as an urban problem because of a traditional and ongoing antipathy toward urban areas that “siphon” funds to address poverty at the expense of suburban and rural areas. And it would be naive to say race and ethnicity don't play a role.
CLIP believes poverty must be addressed wherever it exists. Permitting poverty to persist anywhere hurts Pennsylvania's families, communities and economy.
The Rev. Sandra L. Strauss
The writer is director of public advocacy for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches (pachurches.org).
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