H. Luke Shaefer

Shaefer explains issues contributing to the poverty in rural Michigan

an In The Media Reference

"Poverty in rural Michigan: Relentless aging and few opportunities for those of working age" - Detroit Free Press. 10/21/2019.

H. Luke Shaefer, the director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan and a professor of social work and public policy, has seen it in both places.

"If we go to Detroit, if we go to Chicago, if we go to the Upper Peninsula, we hear about housing and utilities," he said. "It's the same story, different details. In the U.P., it's not DTE and shutoffs people are struggling with, it's coming up with money to buy propane or even wood in some places."

Coming up with money to pay utilities is a matter of having money. Having money means a job - and not just any job, but a decent paying one.

Shaefer, who had studied urban poverty, came across rural poverty when he traveled into the Deep South in 2013 and 2014 while writing his book "$2.00 a Day."

"The availability of social services and many health services is just at a much lower level than in most urban areas," he said. "We're writing a lot about 'hometown heroes' who are steadfast volunteers organizing a food pantry or a services center in lots of rural areas. Or there might be one food pantry for a whole county,

"Which then brings up the distances. Even if someone has transportation, the distances between services are so long."


H. Luke Shaefer

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