They say the causes of poverty are many, and the roots run deep. Government assistance may have reduced the pain of being poor over the last 50 years, but it hasn’t, and probably never could, make it go away.
Life just creates too many complications.
In Oklahoma, for example, high rates of incarceration have created a population of adults and children particularly vulnerable to poverty. While inmates serve their time, they are unable to provide for their kids. After their release, many find it difficult to obtain decent jobs that will enable them to escape the cycle of poverty.
Patrice Wooden-Azebbar, 48, has been looking for a good job on and off since she was released from prison in 2008 after serving time for drug and larceny offenses. She spent a couple of years working for nonprofit groups, but the jobs disappeared when the organizations folded.
She’s redoubled her efforts since her second husband, a Morrocan roofer, was detained by federal immigration officials about a month ago and sent to a detention facility in Tulsa.
Without his income, Wooden-Azebbar has no financial support other than money provided by her 66-year-old mother. She and her mother currently live together in Midwest City. Wooden-Azebbar said she had been receiving $182 in a month in food stamps, but it appears she will no longer get that because of federal budget cuts.
“A lot of the jobs I put in for are data entry, administrative secretary, reception…But I also put in for McDonalds. I put in for Sonic. I put in for Braums. I’ve put in for every job that say that they’re hiring. Then they never call me back. It’s my background. I know it’s my background.”
“I don’t have a strategy,” she said. “I feel so beaten down.”
Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism service that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. For more Oklahoma Watch content, go to oklahomawatch.org.