Alabama's February 2008 home mortgage foreclosure rate reflected an increase of almost 60 percent from the previous year and an increase of 21.54 percent from the month before, at a time when the national rate actually declined by more than 4 percent.
These dramatic figures tend to obscure the fact that for many Alabamians, the ability to provide a decent place to live for themselves and their families has been a longstanding challenge. And the rising number of foreclosures, tighter underwriting standards and the erosion of credit are only likely to make that situation worse.
This special report examines the challenges facing low-income home-buyers and renters in Alabama.
Self-sufficiency means more than "getting by." The government's assessment of who's poor and who's not reflects an outdated understanding of "income inadequacy." By answering the question "How much is too little?," poverty thresholds identify income levels that provide a clearly unacceptable standard of living.
In 2003, Arise Citizens' Policy Project and Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) released a study that answers a different question -- "How much is enough?" The study found that full-time employment with benefits is no guarantee of ecomic independence. Rather, self-sufficiency requires a living wage that covers actual basic expenses.
Here you'll find county-by-county self-sufficiency tables updated using 2007 economic data.
From the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf Coast, Alabamians share a strong work ethic and a deep commitment to individual responsibility. They go to work each day, pay their taxes, participate in the lives of their communities, and nurture their children. But for many, the promise that hard work will provide a good living for them and their families remains just that -- a promise, unfulfilled. This report looks at the strengths and needs of these families who watch Alabama's economic growth from a distance. We review the state's investment and outcomes in workforce development and evaluate how effectively our much-heralded industrial expansion efforts, along with existing state supports and services, are bridging the gap in family self-sufficiency.