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What is Poverty?


Poverty is the deprivation of food, shelter, money and clothing that occurs when people cannot satisfy their basic needs usually resulting when an individual or household lacks sufficient economic resources.


Community Action Agencies were created with the passage of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.  Since the beginning, they have been operated as private nonprofit organizations which are locally controlled to offer unique programs designed to address the causes and effects of poverty in their particular service area.  Community Action programs help with basic and emergency needs and assist people to move out of poverty and increase their economic security.


The United States determines the official poverty rate using poverty thresholds that are issued each year by the Census Bureau designated as the official Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The thresholds represent the annual amount of cash income minimally required to support families of various sizes. The methodology for calculating the thresholds was established in the mid-1960s and has not changed in the intervening years.  The thresholds are updated annually to account for inflation.  A family is counted as poor if its pretax money income is below its poverty threshold.  Money income does not include noncash benefits such as public housing, Medicaid, employer-provided health insurance and food stamps[1].


Other measures

An alternative measure of economic well-being is the Self-Sufficiency Level, or the income that a household needs to meet its basic needs without public or private assistance.  This is generally considered to be about 200% of the Federal Poverty Level[2].

There are various reports that provide additional information about poverty in Ohio. The links below will lead to a pdf file of two of those reports.



State of Poverty in Ohio 2020


Self-Sufficiency Calculator




[1] National Poverty Center- University of Michigan[2] The State of Poverty in Ohio, Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies

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