Rich-Poor gap is widest here

Scott Rasmussen

Islands Sounder

8 October 2003

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Nationwide, the biggest gap between rich and poor exists right here in San Juan County, according to the Opportunity Council of Bellingham.


The number of islanders living in poverty grew 61 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to state health officials' breakdown of Census 2000, said council Executive Director Kay Sardo in the agency's latest newsletter...


...As lead agency for state homeless funding, the council provided rental assistance and services to 50 local households last year. It also helped find funding for the San Juan Island community land trust's first housing project.

"The community land trust on San Juan Island worked with us to acquire Washington State resources to complete the Salal housing project for families living where the financial distance between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' is the greatest in the nation", Sardo said....Local wages reportedly are among the lowest in the state....

"More often than not we're working with [families] in budgeting, but when families live from crisis to crisis and the brakes go out, what do they do?"

With few choices, more often than not they cut back on food, she said.