For many different reasons, 52% of able-bodied African American men in the City of New Orleans can't find employment, are under-employed, or are shut out of jobs. Without employment, there is loss of purpose and dignity, which creates a vicious cycle of poverty -- economically, spiritually, and emotionally.
The average American spends $1.33 for every dollar earned. 7 out of 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and only 1 out of 3 have a monthly budget. This stress and anxiety leaves families feeling hopeless and powerless.
For aspiring urban entrepreneurs, the resources and support networks needed to flourish are hard to find. The possibility for economic development and jobs created by small business start-ups abounds. But, all too often, the dreams of being a business owner are choked out.
As gentrification continues to have profound impacts on New Orleans, the poor are being pushed out to the periphery, far from jobs and services. New Orleans was No. 2 on the "10 worst metro areas for cash-strapped renters." 35 percent of renters in the New Orleans area devote 50% or more of their income to rent and utilities.
We met Troy 7 years ago. He was in high school and dealing drugs to help provide for his mom and family. He was fortunate enough to get busted early in the game so things ended before anything serious occurred. Troy also happened to be neighbors with leaders from St. Roch Community Church, the church tied to St. Roch CDC. After Troy's arrest, we walked with him as he bravely worked to change his life.
He came to us one day with the idea of creating a house where guys with similar histories could live together and strive to be an example to others of a life changed. So, for the past several years, Troy and his roommates have lived in the “Purple House," a quaint shotgun-style house that St. Roch CDC developed (and yes, painted bright purple).
Troy became the first person in his family to attend college. He is set to graduate from the University of New Orleans with a BA in Political Science in December 2016. While a full-time student, Troy is raising his young daughter, working for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, and is the President of the Faubourg St. Roch Improvement [neighborhood] Association!
The Purple House was robbed twice recently. Troy’s response? "We live in a broken city, I live in a broken neighborhood, but I ain't going no where. I'm sticking around to help fix it. Pray for my neighborhood and also for the person who broke into my house."
We are now working with Troy to become a 1st time homebuyer. He participated in both our financial fitness and job training courses a few years ago. Recently, he needed to buy a new car. Troy was excited to report that he paid cash for it, a lesson learned from our financial fitness class.
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Generational Poverty etches a story of shame, despair and marginalization in the lives of people and communities. Help rewrite these stories.