Poverty Rate Released - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

08/27/04-Nacogdoches

Poverty Rate Released

by Donna McCollum

New census numbers show more Americans are slipping into the ranks of the poor and that trend is raising concern here in East Texas.

Social workers Linda Morales and Linda Harris want to increase awareness about the poor. They know most of us living in East Texas are likely isolated from the impact poverty can have.

Interim Director of the Stephen F. Austin State University Social Work Department, Dr. Linda Morales said, "We do have hidden pockets right at home in Nacogdoches County and Angelina County. People never see it and never want to see it and it never becomes focused on."

In Nacogdoches County 23% of the population is considered poor. When you look at certain categories the numbers are even more startling. Just over 69% of the households with single moms and babies are living in poverty.

On the other end of the spectrum are the often silent voices of the elderly. SFA social work lecturer Linda Harris studied the issue this summer. "This is a particular group of people who for the most part don't have much voice in what goes on in relation to the services that they receive, so what I did was look at the quality of life for the elderly in East Texas."

The elderly from rural areas have a major concern. They're worried they don't have enough access to vital medications. Harris will now train future social workers to address the need.

"Helping caregivers to understand that if for instance elderly people are not following a plan of care from their physician it's not necessarily because they don't want to, but because they can't," said Harris.

Both social workers commend local efforts to help the poor, but say the services available now are still far from filling the entire need.

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