Illinois poverty

Impoverished in Illinois

Dec 1, 2014
Vacant apartment building.
Robert Loerzel / WUIS/Illinois Issues

This story first appeared in the January 2014 issue. Statistics have been updated where new numbers were available.

In some pockets of Illinois, where one in every three people live in poverty or close to it, the need is visible in the landscape: empty lots where buildings once stood in Cairo; abandoned houses marked with X’s in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood; families living in ramshackle trailers in Kankakee County’s Pembroke Township.

americanwinterfilm.com

It’s been 50 years since the war on poverty was declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson, but Illinois still has about 15% of residents living in it – the same percentage living in poverty that half century ago. American Winter is a documentary made about families facing poverty, especially after the most recent recession. It’s being presented on the UIS campus Monday night, and a discussion will follow. It’s part of the university’s series on poverty.

Georgetown University

A new study finds Illinois' overall poverty rate is about the same as it was a half century ago.  

The report released Thursday by the Chicago-based Social IMPACT Research Center says almost 15 percent of Illinois residents lived below the federal poverty line in 2012, about the same percentage as in 1960.  

That's despite scores of state and federal aid programs and a dramatic drop in the number of older people in poverty.  

Poverty has increased among working-age men and women, and 1 in 5 children are in poverty. It's highest among blacks and Latinos.  

Classie Poe says East St. Louis even has few fast-food jobs
Robert Loerzel / WUIS/Illinois Issues

In some pockets of Illinois, where one in every three people live in poverty or close to it, the need is visible in the landscape: empty lots where buildings once stood in Cairo; abandoned houses marked with X’s in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood; families living in ramshackle trailers in Kankakee County’s Pembroke Township.

Charlie Wheeler headshot
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Declaring a state goal “that all people be free from poverty,” Illinois four years ago created a special panel charged with developing a strategic plan to reduce extreme poverty in Illinois by 50 percent or more by 2015.

The timing could not have been worse.

Out of Hiding: Poverty is on the rise in Illinois and increasingly visible

Mar 1, 2003

It would be an easy bicycle ride down Lincoln Highway from the Lincoln Mall in Matteson to Rick’s Food & Liquors in Ford Heights. Just a tad over six miles, though the traffic in this far south suburban region of Chicago would be busy at the start. 

In Matteson, middle-class shoppers buy cosmetics at Carson Pirie Scott, motorists gas up SUVs at Mobil, Citgo or Shell, parents fill shopping carts at Jewel and Cub Foods and executives dine at Olive Garden, Red Lobster or Fazoli’s.