POVERTY IN HOWARD COUNTY
Howard County, Maryland has been described as a community of contrasts. Its rural history has been supplanted by unprecedented growth, increasing its population by 34% over the past decade. While this vigorous growth has provided the county with a previously unknown richness in cultural and ethnic diversity, this community’s development has also caused major socioeconomic disruption. Of the estimated 299,430 people residing in Howard County, 5.3% of the population lives in poverty, 6.86% of all children and 8.6 % of children under five years old live below the poverty level. According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate for children under five years has increased by 5%. Of the households who live in poverty, 12.4% are female heads of household.
A recent study conducted by the Policy Analysis Center, a local think-tank enterprise, determined that there are a growing number of Howard County families who face economic hardship. With an average median income of $109,865, the study found that residents who seek financial independence have an annual income of less than $50,000, a difference of $30,000 from the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a family of four. In 2012, nearly 20% of Howard County households had incomes under $50,000. The high cost of living, lack of affordable housing, lack of adequate public transportation, lack of affordable and high quality early childhood education spots, and lack of adequate number of Purchase of Care vouchers, has left more residents eligible for services, but there are not enough services to meet the needs.
In order to help families increase their opportunities to become self-sufficient and employable, there needs to be a mix of support services that enable individuals to continue to build skills needed to become employed. According to the U.S. Census, 4.9% of the Howard County population over the age of 25 does not have a high school diploma and 14.5% only have a high school diploma. The correlation between education and poverty is undeniable. A higher percentage of young adults (31%) without a high school diploma live in poverty, compared to the 24% of young people who finished high school.
Poverty rate for female head of household with children under the age of 5 is 22.5%