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Two Americas: Poverty remains a growing problem in Butte

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Posted at 9:41 AM, Mar 08, 2022

BUTTE - The issue of poverty in Butte has grown so acute and complex that community groups like Action Inc. are changing their whole approach in addressing this problem.

“We have homeless families were serving, a two-parent household, and they’re both working full-time. And due to a lack of affordable housing, they’re living maybe in a shelter or in a vehicle,” said Kristen Chambers of Action Inc.

Action Inc. takes what it calls a “trauma-informed approach” to dealing with people living in poverty. They see them as victims of poverty and that it’s not a personal failure or a fault of their own.

“Societally, maybe they don’t feel they are on the same level as others in the community and consistently feeling judged or that stigma being attached to them,” said Chambers.

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“We have homeless families were serving, a two-parent household, and they’re both working full-time. And due to a lack of affordable housing, they’re living maybe in a shelter or in a vehicle,” said Kristen Chambers of Action Inc.

The main issues are lack of affordable housing, low wages and increased inflation, along with the past two years in a pandemic. The Butte Rescue Mission doesn’t just provide shelter to the homeless but helps those who are living paycheck to paycheck.

“We’re serving around 250 meals a day just to the guest that stays here and the general public that are food insecure and it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Butte Rescue Mission Director Brayton Erickson.

Kerry Morrow, who works at the shelter, was once a client at the shelter after she was evicted around the time the pandemic started.

“The world came crashing down. I’m a recovering alcoholic and I have like 565 days clean and sober and I love this program, it’s brought (me) back upright and standing,” said Morrow.

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“We’re serving around 250 meals a day just to the guest that stays here and the general public that are food insecure and it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Butte Rescue Mission Director Brayton Erickson.

Simple donations or money or supplies to organizations to the Butte Rescue Mission’s homeless shelter are very helpful during these difficult times.

“Thank you to everybody that donates to us, because it gives us everything we need to take care of everybody … and I’m sorry if I’m cutting out, but I’m really truly grateful for the whole community pitching in and helping the Butte Rescue Mission,” said Morrow.

According to Action Inc., 44 percent of Butte-Silver Bow’s population lives below the 200 percent poverty level. That means a family size of two makes about $36,000 a year or a family of four makes $55,500 in annual income.