The Faces of Poverty in Seattle


Poverty marginalizes, poverty suffocates.


Poverty is scarcity of food, shelter, clothing. Poverty is being sick and unable to afford or have insurance to see a doctor. Poverty is a person not being able to afford a college education or being unable to go because they must work to help support their family. Poverty is a child on a school meal program because they otherwise would not have breakfast or lunch to eat, which are often their only meals of the day. Poverty is living in a neighborhood with high crime and an unrepaired home because it is the only thing they can afford. Poverty is the person without a job, no money in their pockets, and trying to figure out how to pay the bills. Poverty is only being able to shop at thrift stores, and only having hand me down clothes. It is a real thing in the world and in Seattle.

Photo Cred: United Way of King County

While the poverty rate in Seattle has decreased slightly since 2013, this past year it remained stagnant at about 12%. This may not seem like a large percentage of the population, however, one person in poverty is one person too many. And who the impoverished are is heartbreaking. According to City Data, those 18-24, children and seniors have the highest rates of poverty. Among the disabled, twice as many are living in poverty compared to those who are not.  These are some of the most vulnerable groups in society, even without the addition of poverty.


When it comes to race, the numbers are more complicated, so stick with me. Seattle is a more diverse city than many, but we are still predominantly White. So naturally, the largest population of those in poverty are White. However, when compared to percentage of a race that is in poverty, Whites have the lowest percentage. Black and Native Americans populations have the highest percentages in poverty, followed by Native Hawaiians, then Asians, Hispanics, and finally what is listed as other races.

Seattle has been the fastest growing city in the United States since 2010 and 200,000 more people are expected to move to Seattle in the next 20 years. Poverty is an issue that needs to be addressed in Seattle now. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in Where do we go from Here: Chaos or Community “The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.”


In the coming weeks, we will dive deep into the issue of poverty. You will see interviews with community leaders, hear stories of those experiencing poverty, learn about the causes of poverty, what we can do to help those in poverty, and much more. Join us in exploring this issue, so that we can raise awareness and begin to develop solutions to the problem.


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