Poverty in Paterson
Today, Paterson homeowners are spending upwards of forty-four percent, amongst the highest in the nation, of their income on housing, leaving them with little money to pay off life's expenses. This housing crisis has caused the severe economic decline of Paterson: the city has a significant homeless population and a poverty rate triple that of the New Jersey state-wide count. An underlying cause of this issue is residents' lack of education: the current high school graduation rate is just seventy-nine percent, compared to ninety-one percent of the statewide average. Consequently, many will not qualify for work above the minimum wage and are unable to improve their economic standing much further.
Solution: GED Program
YFCNJ proposes that the long-term implementation of a free GED program will be a viable solution to Paterson’s homelessness crisis. This is a critical step in improving the lives of the residents: it would provide them with the education necessary to attain jobs that pay above the minimum wage. By nurturing students' academic skills in mathematical reasoning, research analysis, and argumentative technique, the GED program would increase employment and give the vulnerable courage and dignity to overcome their obstacles.
What Is the Program?
The GED program would ideally operate at the Paterson homeless services organization Eva’s Village; Eva’s has the experience necessary to create a setting that is conducive to inspiring underprivileged people to improve their lives. For the past decade, Eva’s has successfully instituted computer and culinary skills training programs tailored to the learning style of their students, and this flexibility in teaching is essential to the GED program’s success. Since it is common for students to experience unforeseen circumstances due to their living situations, it is crucial they maintain their educational progress while attending other services like drug rehabilitation. Through peer outreach and relating academics to “real life”, Eva’s Village can provide students with intrinsic motivation to ace the GED exam and ultimately obtain higher education so that they can earn meaningful jobs and lead happier lives.
Relating Academics to "Real Life"