Poverty continues to plaque our nation especially in the South, where the number of individuals living in poverty continues to rise. According to the US Census’ American Community Survey Report, Southern states experience greater levels of poverty than other areas of the country. As stated in the report, poverty is not distributed evenly across neighborhoods and more relevantly, to states.

In 2010, approximately 25 percent of the total US population lived in poverty; this number was up from 18.1 percent in 2000. Southern states reported the highest poverty rate at 30.8%, up 9 percent from ten years ago. South Carolina has a poverty rate of 35.2 percent, making it the 7th most impoverished state in the country.

Southern states saw the biggest increase in number of people living in poverty areas between 2000 and 2010. Poverty areas, defined as census tracts with poverty rates of 20 percent or more, create hardships for its residents, including poor housing conditions and fewer job opportunities.

How do we raise South Carolina out of poverty? Through collaboration and innovative solutions.

Create Opportunity: Last month, leaders from across the Charleston tri-county region joined in a conversation on the lack of affordable housing and how collectively, we can create opportunity and improve living conditions for low-income individuals and families.

Innovative Solutions: By partnering with LiveWell Greenville, Greenville County, and other community partners, we expanded the Feeding Innovation business plan challenge to the Upstate. Not only will the program increase access to healthy food, it will support the development of strong, local entrepreneurs and community-based businesses.

By working alongside our community partners, we strive to gain a better understanding of the true impact poverty has on a community. We engage in discussions that create change and remove economic barriers to development and opportunity. We remain committed to ending poverty in South Carolina by providing resources to help build economically sustainable communities.

The South Carolina Community Loan Fund finances projects that:1) provide affordable housing; 2) create access to food and essential services; 3) increase the quality and availability of neighborhood facilities; 4) create employment opportunities; 5) attract additional investment; and 6) strengthen the social and economic fabric of the community.