ESR works with the very-low to low-income population of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County. Most of ESR’s clients have incomes lower than 100% of federal poverty income guidelines, and all who enter ESR structured programs have incomes lower than 200% of the poverty. Many who come to the agency are homeless or in immediate danger of becoming homeless.
Let’s put these numbers in perspective. If a single mother of three makes $24,000 per year (the federal poverty income for a family of four), that does not sound like a terrible wage. It’s far from wealthy, but it’s not terrible. It’s about $11.50 an hour, or $1,800 per month, before taxes. It sounds like a decent income until you consider that she has to rent a three bedroom apartment, at about $795 per month. Being conservative, she will likely pay more than a thousand dollars a month in child care for her three children, just so that she can continue to work. Add in utilities, transportation, and food, and she’s already spending well beyond her income. Now imagine that she only makes minimum wage.
In recent years, there has been a new face of poverty in addition to those who are trapped in the cycle of generational poverty. Many of the households that come to ESR are facing financial crises and poverty for the first time and are overwhelmed by the obstacles they face. More than ever before, too many Forsyth County residents are finding themselves one car repair, employment hours cut, or rent increase from homelessness. ESR provides guidance and resource connections to help prevent those in this position from entering the cycle of poverty and becoming dependent on anti-poverty programs for their survival.
In general, program participants must be Forsyth County residents at least 18 years old and meet eligibility criteria (income level, housing situation, etc.). We attempt to connect everyone who walks through our door with the resources they need to attain or regain self-reliance, whether through enrollment in our programs or through referral to another service provider whose programs are more suited to the individual’s needs.