Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 5:27 pm
By Eyder Peralta
In 2011, the poverty rate in the United States remained steady and the number of uninsured Americans decreased, the Census Bureau said today. That means that more than 46 million Americans lived below the poverty line last year.
NPR's Pam Fessler filed this report for our Newscast unit:
While President Obama and Gov. Romney battle for the hearts and minds of the middle class this election season, there's a huge swath of Americans that are largely ignored. It's the poor, and their ranks are growing.
According to a recent survey by The Associated Press, the number of Americans living at or below the poverty line will reach its highest point since President Johnson made his famous declaration of war on poverty in 1964.
Nearly 50 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that people accused of a crime deserve the right to a defense lawyer, no matter whether they can afford to pay for one. But there's no such guarantee when it comes to civil disputes — like evictions and child custody cases — even though they have a huge impact on people's lives.
For decades, federal and state governments have pitched in to help. But money pressures mean the system for funding legal aid programs for the poor is headed toward a crisis.