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Understanding Poverty

UCAN's work is based on understanding that poverty is experienced differently by different people. The majority of people who become poor are no longer poor a year later. This is often the case for people experiencing a crisis, such as loss of employment, that reduces their income or assets. Others, like some seniors living on a fixed income, have life circumstances that make it very difficult to improve their economic situation. They may not be able to exit poverty, but they can still enjoy a better quality of life.

Stabilizing Lives

Since the situations people face while living in poverty differ, UCAN offers a menu of different services for those it helps. Regardless of whether someone recently became poor, has grown up in poverty, or has a condition making it unlikely they will escape poverty, they first need their lives stabilized. A stable life starts with having food to eat, a place to live, a way to stay warm. So we provide affordable housing, rental assistance and move-in assistance, utility assistance, and distribute food to community kitchens and pantries.

Building Exits to Poverty

As people have their basic needs met, many are ready to work their way out of poverty. We offer many services that help people exit poverty. For example, children become ready for school and lifelong success through our various early childhood programs. Our tax assistance program helps many obtain refunds from the IRS, putting extra money in their pockets. Our insurance assistance programs help people obtain the right health insurance, so they are better able to address their medical costs.

Improving Lives in Our Communities

This approach allows us to improve the lives of about 1/3 of people in Douglas and Josephine County each year. For some, this means the simple pleasure of enjoying a hot, healthy meal. For many, this means shortening the time they experience poverty. This is critically important, because the less time someone is poor, the more likely they are to exit poverty.

Find out more about how we change lives in our communities in our strategic plan.