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Perez: People's Resource Center addresses growing suburban poverty

Last month, new information was released indicating that poverty in the Chicago region is now split right down the middle – 50 percent of the region’s poor population now lives in the suburbs. In fact, suburbs have experienced the greatest growth in poverty nationwide. From 1990 to 2011, Chicago’s poverty rate held steady, yet increased 57 percent in the suburbs.

At People’s Resource Center, we are addressing this changing landscape every day. Since 1975, People’s Resource Center has been bringing neighbors together to respond to hunger and poverty in DuPage County. With a team of more than 1,500 volunteers, we offer nutritious food and other basic necessities such as clothes and rent assistance for people facing tough times. We connect people with resources—education and tutoring, jobs, technology, art, a caring community—to create a future of hope and opportunity for all.

After the recession hit in 2008, we quickly saw the number of people coming to us for help increase by 50 percent.

In addition, more than 70 percent of the individuals served by People’s Resource Center last year have been receiving our services for more than a year, compared to early on in the recession, when most of our clients were newcomers. The hard economic times of recent years are having a lasting impact for many DuPage families.

Some, like one of our clients, Katie, find themselves out of work and unable to keep up with rent payments. Another client, Jan, has had a series of low-paying jobs and can’t afford to buy food. And yet another struggling neighbor, Steve, needs a high school diploma in order to land a job. They each turned to PRC programs for help and received assistance that made a positive difference in their lives.

There is no quick fix to poverty in DuPage County, but there are real solutions. People’s Resource Center is an example of a community’s response to a community problem. Your continued support is as critical today as it has ever been.

Thank you for making a positive difference in the lives of these neighbors in need. Your generous donations and volunteer service make it possible for our neighbors to feed their families and to take that next step toward greater self-sufficiency.

Kim Perez is the executive director of People’s Resource Center.

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