The difference between charity and welfare

Summer Carrier

Contributing Writer

   People throughout time have endlessly contemplated on how to end the “plague” of homelessness, or even just poverty, on America’s- or even on just the small scale of Jacksonville’s streets

   Arguments around these can include concerns with private charities, where there’s too much corruption, or that it’s really for profit, or they’re not reliable like a check from the government. On the other side people may believe the government welfare system is intrinsically flawed and impersonal and doesn’t seem to help, it only perpetuates generations of lazy families and communities.

   However, there is more than one type of homeless person, meaning different individuals with different circumstances who need varied kinds of support. That’s where government cover-all programs fall flat. Even on a city or state level, they can’t get as close with the homeless as private charities can.

   But things like government welfare (which is actually a huge variety of programs, according to “US Welfare Programs the Myths VS. The Facts” by Kim Amadeo, there are six main ones including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, Supplemental Security Income, Earned Income Tax Credit, and Housing Assistance) aren’t necessarily the devil some make it out to be.

   Welfare provides, specifically, for the children of low income families. Giving them a fighting chance against the poverty surrounding them. This can be easily seen in an article by Derek Thompson for the Atlantic, “Busting the Myth of ‘Welfare Makes People Lazy’”. Thompson writes that, “Poverty and lack of access to health care is a physical, psychological, and vocational burden for children. Poverty is a slow-motion trauma, and impoverished children are more likely than their middle-class peers to suffer from chronic physiological stress and exhibit antisocial behavior. It’s axiomatic that relieving children of an ambient trauma improves their lives and, indeed, relieved of these burdens, children from poorer households are more likely to follow the path from high-school graduation to college and then full-time employment.”

   In an article called “Welfare Programs shown to Reduce Poverty in America” by Jana Kasperkevic for The Guardian, she points at the stats found by Jake Grovum who has analyzed the data for the Pew Charitable Trusts and found: “For people of all ages, the official poverty rate in the US was 14.5%. That’s equivalent to 45.3 million people. Without food stamps, the poverty rate would be 17.10% – another 8 million Americans would be living in poverty. Without social security, the poverty rate for Americans 65 and older would be 52.67% instead of the current 14.6%. Without tax credits like the federal earned income tax credit, poverty for children under 18 would be 22.8% instead of the official poverty rate of 19.9%.”

   Government welfare isn’t the only thing that’s needed. It’s a joint effort between the government and charity. Charity is specialized, after all. Charity has the advantage of providing different things, other than a simple check for different needs like some of the most wide-known charities such as United Way, Feeding America, Mercy Housing and Goodwill.

   Mercy Housing is specialized housing for the elderly or disabled, and programs like YWCA tend to focus on women which means different kinds of support for different people. Charities also benefit from a lack of office politics, and that also helps to get one on one with the people who need help.

   Both are needed because one cannot solely rely on the government. While the debate tends to be that Welfare is bad, or Private charities aren’t enough, but maybe the focus should be on how to improve the tools that are already in place.

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