Despite nearly three decades of researching urban family structure and poverty, Kathryn Edin was shocked when she discovered data showing the number of American families living on $2 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households. That number includes about 3 million children.
What Edin, director of the 21st Century Cities Initiative learned is the subject of her latest book, “$2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015; $28). The initiative is one of the signature projects of the Johns Hopkins Rising to the Challenge capital campaign.
“Once you know it’s there, you can find evidence for it everywhere—in the SNAP data, data from food pantries and reports from schools,” said Edin, who co-authored the book with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor. “In Baltimore, signs are appearing offering diabetic patients who are cash strapped cash for their diabetic test strips. If your kids needed socks and underwear or you needed to keep the lights on, would you be tempted to endanger your health for that little bit of cash? Probably so.”