The need in our community is great. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the total population of children under age 18 in North Kingstown was 6,848. Over 1,400 (or 21%) of these children are living in poverty. This matches the statistic that nearly 20% of NK children are living in single-parent households. Children living in single-parent families are more likely to live in poverty than children living in two-parent families. Children who grow up in single-parent families are at increased risk for low academic achievement, low levels of social and emotional well-being and increased levels of depression and stress.
There is a tremendous economic dichotomy among people living in this area. With rising housing costs, the percentage of children living in poverty in RI is increasing at an alarming rate. For example, in 2007 the average rent for a 2-bedroom house in NK was $1,181.00, higher than the state average of $1,142.00. To be able to pay the average rent in RI without a cost burden in 2007 a worker would have to earn $19.77 an hour for 40 hours a week/year round. This is almost 3 times the state’s minimum wage of $7.40 per hour. (RI Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation Rent Survey) High energy costs and gasoline prices are putting affordable housing even further out of reach for at risk families in our community. For a family of 3 living at the poverty level (earning $17,170 per year) they would need to use 83% of their income for rent alone. For families who are considered to be very low income families (making $32,900 per year) the percentage drops to 43%. The sub-prime mortgage crisis in RI has increased the number of homes going into foreclosure, escalating housing instability for families and children. Stable housing is also critical for finding and keeping a job.