Yes, poverty does exist in Scottsdale - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Yes, poverty does exist in Scottsdale

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Posted: Friday, June 8, 2007 6:25 am | Updated: 7:43 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

If you live in Scottsdale, chances are you can afford your own social services.

You can make your rent or mortgage payment easily, even if unforeseen expenses occur, or feed and clothe your family, even when gasoline prices rise.

And you likely are able to pay for a companion or a nurse to stay with an elderly parent.

This is certainly not a city where people are scrambling for adult day care for their elderly parents, right? Well, it is.

As the Tribune has reported during the last several days, the Foundation for Senior Living told the families of its 35 elderly clients late last month that its adult day care center at Granite Reef Road and Mc-Donald Drive will close July 12.

Scottsdale may have fewer people in such circumstances than other cities, but it would be a myth to say those situations don’t exist here.

These older folks’ plight encouraged me to call the Vista del Camino Center, the city’s working, helping contradiction to its image as a warm, happy haven for the well-to-do.

Vista, in temporary quarters at the old downtown Senior Center while its location at 7700 E. Roosevelt St. is being renovated, exists to serve those whose needs too many Scottsdale residents don’t think exist, said human services director Rita Koppinger.

Based on 2005 U.S. Census updates, 15,331 Scottsdale residents live below the federal poverty line, Koppinger said. This is defined as a single person earning no more than $817 a month or a family of four earning no more than $1,667.

“And when they encounter some kind of a crisis, a car repair or medical bill, they are faced with not having food to put on the table and not paying their rent,” Koppinger said.

While 80 percent of the people Vista helps live south of Camelback Road, that means that the other 20 percent live north of Camelback, she said.

“Quite a few are from up in the (Scottsdale) Airpark area, divorced moms living with minimal child support, living in apartments, struggling to make ends meet,” Koppinger said, which is why Vista offers services one day a week at the city’s Via Linda Senior Center.

“We see people who never dreamed they would be without a job, but major companies close and major companies do lay people off,” she said.

Vista offers many services, Koppinger said, from emergency food boxes (1,781 distributed last year), free bread on Tuesdays (between 30 and 40 people come for it on that day), paying emergency prescription costs (65 people). About 3,000 people received clothing last year. And Vista teaches classes in resumé writing and job searching.

Last year, Vista helped 407 Scottsdale households pay their rent and 709 households with their utilities, she said.

Many never thought they’d need social services. And now there are 35 more families who never thought they’d be without them.

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