People in poverty in rural communities have been underrepresented in America. Poverty can cause so many other issues, one of them being a lack of quality public health services. Historically, poor people have experienced barriers not faced by middle-class or wealthy Americans, especially low-income individuals that fall between the cracks of receiving public health services. Unfortunately, the poor and underprivileged, already struggling, often lack the voice, resources, funds, tools, and/or education to implement the changes needed to access community public health services. They need assistance from individuals in a better position, socially and economically, to enact the necessary changes needed to gain equal footing in an unequal society.
Rural citizens who are in poverty also have more barriers that people in suburbs and bigger cities do not have. Lack of adequate transportation systems in rural areas makes it harder to get to doctor’s appointments in bigger cities or to get to a job. Generally, people often have to travel outside the rural area to get a decent, well-paying job. If someone does have a car, then it costs more in gas to get to work every day. However, the availability of jobs are usually much less in rural areas, which is another stressor on people. In rural areas, grocery stores, shops, and other places are usually not close by, which makes walking to places more difficult and not feasible, especially in the winter time. Another disadvantage is that the jobs that are available in rural areas are often low-paying jobs that do not allow someone to support a family or even support themselves.
As far as solving some of these poverty problems in rural American, I think we need to examine how Robert Kennedy’s War on Poverty helped to create programs centered on community development. Community development helps low-income individuals and communities get access to financing options to fund and build affordable housing, start businesses, and start health clinics, charter schools, and child care centers. This is all needed as a rural community usually lacks the resources and tools needed to thrive. Community development also connects non-profit, public sector, and for profit organizations, forming partnerships needed to enact social and economic change for the poor and underprivileged. However, these projects needed institutions that would take charge and fund community action projects (Erickson and Andrews, 2011).
Historically, community development financial institutions and community development corporations inspired this community action development. Committed to generating economic opportunity, these community development corporations functioned by increasing services, employment, and capital investments in low income neighborhoods. Society started to recognize that taking the time and initiative to develop communities not only helps economically, but also fosters social connections. These social connections enrich neighborhoods, ultimately increasing communities’ overall health. However, money problems got in the way of progress (Erickson and Andrews, 2011).
I think that community development centered on dealing with poverty via federal and local means is a good method to use. Small non-profits that connect to powerful regional and national partners can help get rural areas thriving financially. Some examples of this are the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Enterprise Foundation. By 2010, these institutions had raised approximately $11 billion dollars to build more affordable housing in depressed areas as well as helping to establish property for community, educational, and retail projects (Erickson and Andrews, 2011).
Getting poor people in rural areas better health resources is also necessary. The “Steps to a Healthier Washington” program is a good example of how change in rural areas can be implemented. Changing policy and system changes were its core goals, the individuals involved on board with the program’s establishment, goals, and mission. The program focused on joining partners from separate programs to encourage policies by promoting health in health care systems, communities, schools, and work environments (Erickson and Andrews, 2011).
However, helping people in rural areas to feel better about themselves is also important in solving issues associated with poverty. Incorporating more art into one’s town is one way to do this. Often, rural areas do not have the funds for local plays, music programs, concerts, and community theater. While the arts may seem like an extra expense, it is important. Rural area often have many minorities, who are subjected to discrimination, racism, and homophobia based on who they are. Getting these individuals involved in the arts, where they can express their traditions, beliefs, and culture on stage can raise their self-esteem and inspire them to take more positive actions to change their life and the lives of other people in their rural area. Having an avenue to get involved in the Arts is quite important, evident in the passage of “Many have found that a traditional art form- a dance, a song, a dress, a carving, a anything that is distinctly beautiful and well-made or performed can been seen as powerful symbol that conveys a vital message of ‘We’re still here and we’re still a culturally distinct people with our own particular beliefs and values’ (Haviland, Prin, McBride, & Walrath, 2013, p.345). Therefore, getting more art in rural areas in poverty can help to solve the issue.
Poverty in rural areas is a problem that can be solved by the solutions I have proposed in this paper. Gaining access to community public care services is crucial. Because low income and economically disadvantage people often do not have the necessary tools, resources, funds and physical/mental health to advocate for themselves, it is imperative that individuals in positions to institute change, such as politicians, educators, medical and social service workers, and mental health workers to take charge. People in these occupations need to help obtain the necessary funding, provide trainings, and connect with other influential agencies to ensure that the underprivileged get quality, effective community public health services. Getting more art into rural communities in poverty can also help to institute necessary changes to help rural areas improve and flourish economically.
- Erickson, D., & Andrews, N. (2011). Partnerships among community development, public health, and health care could improve the well-being of low-income people. Health Affairs, 2056-2063.
- Haviland, W. A., Prin, H. E., McBride, & Walrath. (2013). Cultural Anthropology The Human Challenge (14th ed.). Belmont : Wadsworth Cengage Learning .