Disadvantaged Population: Low-Income Communities
Low-income communities are communities in which a significant percentage of the population is living below the poverty line. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the poverty guidelines dictate: $11,770 is the poverty line for one person households, $15,930 is the poverty line for two person households, $20,090 is the poverty line for a three-person household, and $24, 250 is the poverty line for a four-person household. Thus, communities in which a significant number of resident are living on incomes that are close to or below these markers are considered to be lower income communities.
Low-income communities possess certain characteristics such as shortages in suitable housing, lack of education and opportunities, inability to move and more that differentiate these communities from other communities. One aspect of the community that these characteristics can affect is the crime rate of the community. Due to the challenges that are presented to lower income communities, these communities often have higher crime rates than the general population.
Challenge to Low-Income Communities
One significant challenge that faces low-income communities today is that they are plagued with a higher level of violent crime that the rest of society. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report “Household Poverty and Nonfatal Violent Victimization, 2008 – 2012”, “persons in poor households at or below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) (39.8 per 1,000) had more than double the rate of violent victimizations as persons in high-income households (16.9 per 1,000)” (Berzofsky et al., 2014). In addition, higher rates of violence involving the use of firearms is seen in lower income communities. The article “Preventing Violence in Low-Income Communities: Facilitating Residents’ Ability to Intervene in Neighborhood Problems” points out that the type of violence that is often found in lower income communities often includes acts involving illegal drugs, juvenile delinquency, and even homicide (Ohmer et al, 2010). The higher rate of crime may be a challenge to this community due to lack of resources as well as a feeling a frustration and disenfranchisement.
Applying Change, Leadership, and Advocacy Theories to Address the Challenge
According to “Social Change Application – Disadvantaged Populations”, “in order to address the challenges that are faced by disadvantaged populations, the only way you can be successful is by using social change strategies and advocacy leadership” (“Social Change Application”, 2012). One way in which social change can be facilitated in lower income communities to promote a positive change in the crime rate through the use of informal social control and social capital which can include the neighbors taking leadership roles and intervening to help to prevent criminal acts from taking place in the community (Ohmer et al., 2010). One leadership theory that would be effective to use to motivate those in lower income communities to participate in the betterment of the community is that of transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is characterized by inspiring others to see the leader’s vision and work toward a common goal. Promoting the goal of a safer community for those who live there can be used to identify citizens in these communities who are willing to act as leaders for change in these communities.
Importance of Acting as a Social Agent, Leader, and Advocate for the Disadvantaged Population
One of the main reasons that it is important to act as a leader and a social agent to promote positive change in disadvantaged communities is due to the fact that these communities are often neglected and ignored. Politicians often cater to the middle class which makes up a significant percentage of their voting base and neglect the communities which are considered to be the most disenfranchised. These communities often do not have the power to push for social change without strong advocates on their side.
- “2015 Poverty Guidelines.” (September 3, 2015). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Retrieved from: https://aspe.hhs.gov/2015-poverty-guidelines
- Berzofsky, M. (November 18, 2014). “Household Poverty and Nonfatal Violent Victimization, 2008 –
2012.” Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Retrieved from: www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5137.
- Ohmer et al. (2010). “Preventing Violence in Low-Income Communities: Facilitating Residents’ Ability
to Intervene in Neighborhood Problems.” Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare. Volume 37. Issue 2. Retrieved from: scholarworks.wmich.edu/jssw/vol37/iss2/8/
- “Social Change Application – Disadvantaged Populations.”