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Looks at the daily lives of poor people to demonstrate that the poor pay more than others, by both monetary and other measures, to meet basic needs.
While the negative effects of urban poverty are well documented, the everyday experiences of urban residents are often absent or secondary in urban studies research. The Cost of Being Poor rectifies this problem by examining both the noneconomic and the often-overlooked economic costs faced by residents of poor urban neighborhoods in Gary, Indiana. Using census, regional, and local data, and in-depth interviews with the residents of Gary, Sandra L. Barnes argues that many people incur costs resulting from the dual dilemma of being poor and residing in a poor urban area. She explores how factors such as race/ethnicity, neighborhood type, and location influence residents' views, coping strategies, and unconventional approaches toward making ends meet. Well written and accessible, this study of Gary's poor urban neighborhoods offers broad findings that apply to other similarly impoverished Rust Belt cities.
“Community organizers looking for ideas for their own city may find useful insights and strategies in this book.” — Journal of Community Practice
“…Barnes successfully demonstrates the additional economic and personal challenges that poor residents living in a poor city face, while showing that poor families have to make extremely informed decisions about where and how to buy food.” — Journal of Children & Poverty
“…Barnes offers a fresh perspective … and fills an important gap in the scholarship by comparing the ‘daily round’ of poor and working-class residents of Gary versus economically similar suburban residents.” — Celeste Watkins, Northwestern University
"The prose is clean and lean and Barnes builds an interesting study of how people with limited resources manage their incomes wisely yet are forced at times to ignore the obvious negative economics of a situation. She does a very good job of showing the daily struggles of low-income people and the decisions they make, both good and bad." Harrell R. Rodgers Jr., author of American Poverty in a New Era of Reform
Sandra L. Barnes is Assistant Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Purdue University.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Introduction: Structure vs. Agency and the Poor Urban Experience
1. The Economics of the Poor Urban Experience
2. Space Usage and Cost Differentials in Gary, Indiana: Counting the Costs
3. Differential Goods and Services to Feed a Family: Who Pays the Costs?
4. Differential Goods and Services to Clothe a Family: Who Pays the Costs?
5. A Tale of Three Families: Impracticality Costs
6. Sociopsychological Implications of Exposure to Poverty-related Constraints: Coping with the Costs
Conclusion: A Thesis on the Poor Urban Experience: Validating Experiences