There are many assistance programs that help low income individuals or families. Depending on a person’s income and household, they can qualify for various programs. Some assistance programs include the housing choice voucher program (Section 8), CalWORKs, Cal Fresh, California low income home energy assistance program, California Medicaid, and grants/scholarships.
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The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) is controlled by the local public housing agencies (PHAs) and helps low income families, the elderly, and disabled in affording housing that is safe. People are able to find their own housing under this program or places that are located in subsidized housing projects. Their housing has to meet the requirements of the program. In order to be eligible, the family’s income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or area that they want to live in.
If the family’s income is less than 30% of the median income of the area that they are in, the PHA legally has to provide 75% of its vouchers. California CalWORKs (TANF) is a welfare program that helps low income families with cash and services. Eligibility requirements are being a California resident, being pregnant or responsible for children under the age of 19, a U.S citizen, legal alien, permanent resident, have low income, or unemployment. Cal Fresh (SNAP) is a government program that provides low income families money to buy food in order to maintain a healthy diet. The amount of money that is received is based on number of family members, income, and expenses.
Families or individuals qualify for this program. When given this benefit, people can buy groceries by using an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. California Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is funded by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
This program provides assistance in paying the costs of heating or cooling a house, apartment, studio, or townhouse. They also provide financial assistance in paying for their place to make them more energy efficient. California Medicaid is our state’s health care program for low income families. It is supported by Federal and state taxes. The eligibility requirements include being a resident of California, a U.S citizen, permanent resident, or legal alien. People also must be pregnant, blind, or someone in the household having a disability, be elderly, or be responsible for children under the age of 19.
The household income requirements before taxes are: 1 person having a maximum yearly income of $15,800, 2 people with $21,307, 3 people with $26,813, 4 people with $32,319, and so on (California Medicaid). For education grants and scholarships are provided by the federal or state government, the school, or a private or nonprofit organization. These do not have to be repaid. They are given to the student. Grants are given on a need basis and scholarships are given on a merit basis. There are stipulations that grant money have to be paid that include dropping out of school before finishing up the semester.
Social class refers to a system of stratification based on access to resources such as wealth, property, power, and prestige (Moya & Fiske, 2017). Property can include material things like land, car, buildings, bank accounts, machinery, and jewelry. Power is being able to do things that you want without needing approval from others. Prestige the is respect and admiration from others. Some occupations have more prestige than others because of the pay, education, abstract thought, or autonomy (Henslin, 2017).
Our society groups people into these groups based on how much we are worth. The bottom of the social class are the poorest people. According to the Marxist theory, there is conflict in society because of the division of classes. Stereotypes of the lower classes are that they are lazy and stupid. These stereotypes hurt the poor because they can start believing it themselves and not work to better their situation. This creates more inequality in society. Social-class stereotypes help maintain social-class divides, in both society and individuals (Moya & Fiske, 2017). The negative stereotypes of people using the assistance programs like welfare or CalFresh also prevent people getting the help they need.
There are people with families that need the help of these programs to help them afford the basic necessities that their families need and these negative stereotypes do no help. The social structure in the United States are the capitalists, upper middle class, lower middle class, working class, working poor, and the underclass.
Of the social classes, two of them are considered poverty level or below. The working poor class make up 16% of people. Most of them are high school dropouts that have low paying or temporary jobs. They work full time but depend on some state or government assistance programs discussed earlier in this paper. The underclass makes up 4% of the people and their main source of income comes from state or government assistance. They are concentrated in inner cities and have low paying seasonal temporary work. They also consist of the homeless population.
Social mobility refers to a change in social class or status. Intergenerational mobility is the change that family members make in social class from one generation to the next, upward social mobility is movement up the social class ladder, and downward social mobility is the movement down the social class ladder (Henslin, 2017). For someone who is born into a poor family, they are able to have social mobility. Some factors in poverty include race-ethnicity, education, and sex. If a person is able to get assistance in paying for their education, they would have a better chance at getting out of poverty and having upward mobility. Sociologists say that access to education is difficult to get in society but if people have the financial means to pay for it, they are able to better their life. It is hard for someone in the lower classes to be able to afford an education without the help of their state or government. These assistance programs help people get out of poverty. The goal of these assistance programs is to temporarily help alleviate some of the financial burdens in life.
They are there to help people get back up on their feet. For those who need it continuously, there are programs that help them too. Intergenerational social mobility is an important explanation of attitudes towards inequalities (Gugushvili, 2016). Some people believe that their upward mobility is due to their own efforts and abilities while others believe that circumstances help in their mobility. People also think differently about people who are born poor and those who become poor. In terms of being downwardly mobile poor, people envision the intergenerationally poor as more Black, more Latino, more immigrants, and more teens and adults (Homan, Patricia, et al., 2017).
They believe that being poor is the same from generation to generation with these groups of people. The reasons for this downward mobility is prejudice, discrimination, or lack of schooling. They envision the downwardly mobile as being composed of more Whites, fewer immigrants, and more children and elderly compared to the intergenerationally poor (Homan, Patricia, et al., 2017). For these groups of people, the reason for their downward mobility is due to life events that can push them into poverty.
There are two types of the federal poverty measure. There are poverty thresholds and poverty guidelines. The poverty thresholds are the original version of the federal poverty measure (Poverty Guidelines). They are provided by the Census Bureau and are used to estimate the number of people in poverty. The poverty guidelines are the other version of the federal poverty measure (Poverty Guidelines). They are provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These are used to determine assistance program eligibilities. The HHS poverty guidelines for the 48 states, not including Alaska or Hawaii, for 2018 shows: 1 person in the household is $12,140, 2 people is $16,460, 3 people is $20,780, 4 people is $25,100, 5 people is $29,420, 6 people is $33,740, 7 people is $38,060, 8 people is $42,380, and add $4,320 for each additional person for households more than 8 people (Poverty Guidelines). The programs that use these guidelines are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
The fight for raising minimum wage has always been for dealing with inequality and poverty in the United States but raising the minimum wage doesn’t always help everyone. Setting higher minimum wages target individual workers with low wages, rather than families with low incomes (Neumark, 2015). A single mom with 2 kids working 40 hours a week with the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 ears about $15,080. According to the HHS poverty guideline for 2018, this family is well under the poverty guideline of $20,780 for 3 people.
For one person, setting a higher minimum wage helps them find higher wage work. For a family, raising the minimum wage does not help poverty as much based on family income. As much as raising the minimum wage will benefit poor families, it with also benefit those who are not considered poor. This makes the minimum wage an inefficient redistributional policy (Neumark, 2015). Another disadvantage of raising the minimum wage could be a loss in job losses for other people. While companies raise the minimum wage for certain workers, this could result in eliminating other job opportunities due to cost.
After totaling my monthly costs, I was shocked at how much money I would need to sustain the lifestyle that I currently am in. If I was working minimum wage at $11.00 per hour fulltime, I would not make it financially. My monthly expenses would be $10,982. That seems like a lot to me but when I went over each cost, it all seemed reasonable for what I would spend. Working the minimum wage of $11 fulltime, I would earn $1,906.67 monthly and $22,880.00. In order to be able to afford my monthly living expenses, I would need help from assistance programs or find a job that paid higher than minimum wage. Even if I participated in assistance programs, I do not think that I would be able to still afford this lifestyle. I would have to make major cuts in my budget. I would start getting rid of expenses in the entertainment category. I would have to cancel my Netflix and ESPN subscriptions. I would not be able to afford to do any hobbies or give any gifts. I would cancel my gym membership and donations. I would definitely not have any money to save while working $11 per hour.
In order to pay my monthly living expenses, I would need an extra $9,075.63. That seems like a ridiculous amount to need for one person living in a one-bedroom apartment. I don’t know how people are able to make ends meet with minimum wage. It is even harder for those with families. People would be barely living from paycheck to paycheck. I would be scared of losing my job. I am currently employed and making more than $10 an hour. If I subtracted my currently monthly income from my total monthly expenses amount, I would need an extra $5982.
The difference between my minimum wage and current salary amount needed would be about $4000. In both scenarios, I would not be able to make ends meet and I would need financial assistance. I have realized that expenses add up so fast and so much.
I also have realized that there are so many things in my monthly expenses that I do not need. I am spending money that I do not have and that is why I have growing debt. Because of the negative stereotypes of people who need the state or government’s assistance programs, I would not feel good that I have to depend on these programs for financial help. Society has a stigma on people on the welfare system. I would personally be embarrassed to tell anyone that I am involved in any of the assistance programs. I know that I should not be embarrassed or ashamed because these programs are there to help people in times of need.
The negative stereotypes and stigma to the people who use these programs are unfortunate because there are people who truly need these programs. Doing this assignment made me realize a lot of things. There are a lot of people who cannot make ends meet with what they are making at work and it is not due to laziness or lack of ambition. A lot of people are doing everything they can but still aren’t able to afford the basic necessities. I feel that our society needs to change in order to give people equal access to education and jobs. People should not be judged based on their social class. People should not be judged for needing the help of others to financially support themselves. I grew an appreciation for the programs and charities that exist to help the poor in this country. I have made a personal promise that I will be more active in these communities and help in any way I can.
I also think about homelessness differently now. I realize how easy it is for someone to just lose everything just because of losing a job. So many people live from paycheck to paycheck, no matter how much the amount of the check is. If that check is not coming in anymore, people lose everything. Expenses are expensive. We should not judge people on the amount of money they have or the help they need. We need to come together as a society to give everyone the same opportunities in life.
California Minimum Wage 2017. (2022, Jan 30).
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