Poverty crisis in Carbondale – The Daily Egyptian
Steven Schauf, a native of Carbondale, knows the town’s poverty problem, which inspired him to start his loan repayment company, Impressive Funding Solutions.
Carbondale has the highest level of poverty in the state of Illinois, according to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau.
“I’m going into my second year owning a credit repair business,” Schauf said. “We’re in the business of financial literacy and being in that industry gives me the opportunity to help some people here with [… learning] the basis of virtually all your finances.
When Schauf worked at a Volkswagen dealership in Marion, Illinois, he saw many people who were unable to get loans for a car and would be pushed to “buy here, pay here” car dealerships. where customers would spend three times as much. that they shouldn’t have had.
“That’s what keeps most people poor,” Schauf said. “You do things like that, as well as[…] having to come up with crazy installments.
Emilia Ruzicka, data journalist at Stacker, said many people have written studies about what it takes to lift people out of poverty.
“Many studies have been published on what raising the minimum wage might do to help reduce certain levels of poverty or provide additional social services through local, state or federal government,” Ruzicka said.
About 43% of Carbondale residents live below the poverty line, according to the latest US Census data.
The percentage is particularly concerning because the national poverty rate is just 13.4%, Schauf said, a statistic corroborated by the US Census Bureau.
Schauf said the poorest area of Carbondale has always been the northeast side of town, the Tatum Heights and Lake Heights areas.
Quianya L. Enge, founder of the nonprofit Beyond the Walls, which provides resources for people returning from prison or local jails, said Carbondale has a lot to do in terms of socio-economic equity and net positive outlook.
“The town is so small and the homelessness rate is so high,” Enge said. “In every space you see groups of homeless […] the warming center has tripled in size since opening.
Part of the problem is a low level of home ownership, Schauf said.
“The national population for homeownership is 65.4%, but in Carbondale it’s 28.9%,” Schauf said.
High unemployment, racial bias and poor practices among landlords also contribute to the problem, Enge said.
“We certainly know that racism is prevalent in Carbondale, and they use it to discriminate when hiring. They use it to discriminate when they pre-screen housing applications,” Enge said.
People who can find homes in Carbondale are often in precarious situations and have no way of redressing the negligence or wrongdoing of their landlords, Enge said.
“The circumstances in which they [tenants] live under is horrible,” Enge said. “I think the city is helping people living in poverty because it’s not holding businesses accountable and it’s not holding property management accountable.”
The city mixed priorities, Enge said, and described the local legal and economic situation as “colonial adjacent.”
“You can’t say you want people to come and visit and improve tourism, but you’re not improving the way people [who] pay your taxes online,” Enge said.
Towns like Carbondale often don’t have the resources to address poverty issues, Schauf said, which is why state and federal programs are so important to residents.
“There are so many people who don’t have jobs. Even those who have a job, it’s so poorly paid,” Schauf said. “Without the help of SNAP, Section Eight and all of these programs, it would be difficult for many of these mothers.”
Carbondale City Council member Ginger Rye Sanders said the impoverished community is scattered across the city.
“There are problems and poverty because a lot of students here are barely succeeding,” Sanders said. “They try to overcome all the difficulties they have in studying, while eating and doing the things they need to do.”
Sanders said the document mismatch is one of the big problems when it comes to finding a job.
“I have people who come to me and they say […] “I applied for this job and never received a phone call or a plan for the apprenticeship program with the union,” Sanders said.
Sanders attempted to contact Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Austin Lane about employment programs and got no response, she said.
The SIU could do more for the community by funding programs in the city and providing better benefits to people, Schauf said, but, at the moment, the SIU is disconnected from the rest of the city.
“I just think with the help of SIU, Impressive Funding Solutions can have more interns to help out these businesses,” Schauf said.
Schauf thinks his company’s tools could help bring more businesses and customers to the area, which he says could also help locals struggling with money.
“Another thing we teach at Impressive Funding Solutions is how to get trade credit,” Schauf said. “I think it will also help the area with jobs and attract people from other areas who visit and travel to patronize different businesses in the area.”
Enge said the city needs to review its housing regulations.
Sanders is doing what she can to reach out to groups in the community to raise awareness about poverty issues, she said.
“We need more organizations like the Eurma Hayes Center, the organization I’m with, Women for Change, Carbondale United,” Sanders said. “It’s only when we’re all on the same page and working together to find solutions that this will be resolved because it’s systemic.”
Staff reporters Jamilah Lewis and Kamaria Harmon can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected] or on Twitter @jamilahlewis and @QuoteKamariaa.can. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter