(SNAP, also called “food stamps”), which provides money that low-income people can use to buy healthy food. Other welfare programs provide housing subsidies, benefits for disabled people, and health care. Welfare programs typ- ically have eligibility requirements each recipient must meet. Requirements could be based on family size, income, or location. American social programs are funded by both the fed- eral government and individual state governments. States sometimes establish their own programs to cover any potential gaps in assistance. However, social programs in the United States are not enough to meet all the needs of America’s population. MEASURING POVERTY The United States measures poverty in several different ways. The US Census Bureau annually estimates the num- ber of those living in poverty based on a sampling of Amer- ican households. Keep in mind that the Census Bureau’s estimate does not include everybody. Individuals who are homeless, living in shelters, or incarcerated are not typ- ically covered in the Census Bureau’s estimate of house- holds. While terms like “poor,” “middle class” or “rich” are frequently used by Americans, the federal government does not use these designations. Instead, the government de- scribes people as living above or below the “poverty line” or “poverty level.” The Department of Health and Human


Contemporary Issues: Poverty and Welfare

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