Jobs Campaign: Why Workers Need Solidarity Across All Income Levels

North Hills Food Pantry

Wider Poverty Has Taken Root in Pittsburgh Area Suburbs

By Rachel Weaver and Jill King Greenwood
Beaver County Blue via PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Nov 27, 2011 – Five years ago, Deidra and David Vaughn were proud, new owners of a $119,000 two-story, five-bedroom Shaler home, complete with a swimming pool.

He made about $30,000 as a social worker for nonprofits, and she collected Social Security medical disability benefits. They weren’t rich, but with three children at home, they got by — until he lost his job not long after they became homeowners.

As David Vaughn, 38, tried for years to find work in his field, the family struggled to save their home from foreclosure. They finally found a buyer for it in September. Now, they rent from her sister.

"We’re looking to see how we can get things back to normal," Deidra Vaughn, 31, said last week as she stocked up on groceries at the North Hills Community Outreach food pantry. "I’d like to see my husband back in his field, hopefully, when the economy gets better. Every day is a struggle."

Poverty — which federal guidelines define as having income of $26,170 or less annually for a family of five — once was widely associated with inner-city communities, but during the nation’s economic downturn, it infiltrated more middle-class neighborhoods. A Brookings Institution analysis of census data showed that from 2000 to 2010, the number of poor individuals in suburbs grew 53 percent, compared with 23 percent in cities.

In Western Pennsylvania, Beaver, Lawrence and Fayette counties experienced the highest increases in poverty rates, census data show.

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