By LaRue Foster, Managing Partner, Humanx Resources, LLC
What once characterized a socialeconomic group as underserved no longer applys. Ethnicity, income, nor demographic classifications are by no means the only metrics that identify underserved populations. Access to health care, although health care is a major category, is no longer also a complete discription. So who are they? The reasons for being underserved range from easy accessibility to goods and services to the unaffordable cost of everything from rent to medical care to child care to education, among others.
There is a tendency to define those being underserved as people who are unemployed for various reasons, either because their employers have been forced to lay off employees due to the current pandemic, business failure or because businesses are unable to facilitate hiring those that are disabled. For these people, being underserved means quite simply that they have no access to a stable income, employer-sponsored benefits, or the ability to pay for basic necessities such as food, clothing, rent, and transportation as well as health care. Quite often, they simply can't afford to see a physician when they are ill or face eviction for inability to pay rent, or they can't afford to buy clothes, food, transportation and other necessities.
A large number of minorities are underserved because they often can't find high-paying jobs even in an economic upswing. This group includes migrent workers who often live hand-to-mouth with day labor jobs that pay very little and often find access to basic health services difficult because they are not citizens.
Students who are not covered by their parents medical plan find themselves searching for alternatives. Resources exist but often times the pathway to access them is perilous and costly adding additional stress to an already stressful environment.
Ex-military personnel who return from service but lack job experience outside military service qualify for job training programs after their service, but often those with families to support can't afford the luxury of time to devote to training when they must focus on a living wage for their families. A number of former soldiers also suffer from psychological problems due to the traumas they have seen while in service and are unable to work but have very limited options for counseling.
Some individuals are underserved in many categories because their employment is part-time or intermittent, such as seasonal workers or gig workers such as actors and musicians or individuals who have a disability such as Autism. Self-employed individuals and small business owners are also categorized as underserved.
Seniors living on Social Security retirement benefits alone often cannot find affordable housing or afford basic necessities because Social Security payments are based on the amount of FICA earnings they received in their years of work—and prices for necessities have risen in recent years. The same problem applies to disabled workers who may receive Social Security disability payments that are far less than they could receive in wages if they were able to work.
Another group that finds it almost impossible to get access to benefits are the long-term unemployed. Many cities and states have developed paid training programs and employment assistance, but with resources scarce, many of those programs are becoming more limited or disappearing entirely. Statistics show that the longer someone is unemployed, the harder it is for that person to obtain employment and the necessary support services they need.
In every community, both rural and city, there are many people living on the margins of survivability because they have limited means of obtaining goods, lifestyle services, housing, health care, employment, and opportunities in any arena for a better life. Humanx Resources was founded with a major goal to improve the quality of life for individuals and families by providing them access to health and lifestyle programs, products, and services that are otherwise unavailable or financially unobtainable.
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