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Oct 23, 2013 9:20 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Poverty takes firm grip on Tucson streets

TUCSON – It’s no secret that poverty has taken a firm grip on the city. The latest Census data indicates that nearly 27 percent of all Tucsonans are living below the poverty line.

The federal poverty line for a single adult with no children, for example, is considered “living in poverty” if your monthly income is roughly less than $1000 per month.

News 4 Tucson spoke with one Tucson man – who asked us to conceal his identity – about his everyday challenges.

We’ll call him “Jack” -- a retired veteran who is living on a fixed income, depending on social security payments.

“My budget is $1.50 for breakfast, $1.50 for lunch and $3 for supper... and if I can dive underneath that... it makes it a little better at some point at the end of the month,” Jack said.

He occasionally walks down to a church a few blocks from his modest home to get free food. “What I save by going to the church and getting free bread allows me to buy dog food for the dog… it’s that tight,” he said.

Jack lives in a neighborhood near Fort Lowell and First Avenue – but he isn’t the only one living on tough times here. It’s evident by its reputation.

“There's a lot of drugs and things in the neighborhood ... That's not safe for the kids that are around,” said Florence Wallin, a neighbor who lives on disability.

The reason for all the problems? Neighbors point to the usual suspect – poverty.

“It’s not uncommon to walk the dog and find somebody sitting on the street smoking crack or meth… when we wake up in the morning, it’s not uncommon to find our mailbox or the wall or the neighbor’s property spray-painted overnight,” Jack said.

The signs of trouble are everywhere – despite clean-up crews’ daily routine of washing away the graffiti.

“It frightens us because they don’t go money, they’re not working, they can’t get a job or anything so it’s hard for everybody,” Wallin said. “But the criminal stuff is not good.”

It’s important to note that the neighborhood these folks live in is just one pocket of poverty – because you can find it practically around every corner in Tucson.

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