The effect of deindustrialization and globalization on the feminization of poverty in Buffalo, New York (1970–2008): A case study of transitional housing at Gerard Place
Cimasi, Kathleen A.
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In this era of globalization, the themes of exploitation and the marginalization of women in the U.S. can be viewed as part of, and connected to, the feminization of poverty on an international scale. Global development and deindustrialization has negatively affected the relative economic status of women both internationally and locally in Buffalo, New York. This research addresses the economic impact of globalization and deindustrialization, as seen in many old manufacturing cites including Buffalo, New York, on the impoverishment of women as seen in Buffalo, New York. Once considered the hub of trade and commerce on the Great Lakes, in 2006 the U.S. Census ranked Buffalo as having the second highest poverty rate of cities similar in size with 30% of its residents living in poverty. Buffalo provides a good backdrop for studying the results of deindustrialization and globalization resulting in a large decrease in the number of stable, high-paying industrial jobs and the increase of low-paying service sector jobs offering few if any benefits and no job security. Deindustrialization and globalization has affected much of the nation's workforce. Women, especially poor women with children, have been the most negatively impacted by the shrinking job market and dwindling funding for social support programs. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the extent to which a well structured support system coupled with safe, well maintained living conditions provided by transitional housing projects offers a viable paradigm to enable the transition of poor single mothers to an independent and economically self-sufficient life for themselves and their children. Moreover, by analyzing the voices of these mothers, the study seeks to determine whether the community-based, transitional housing program with social support systems can provide a supplemental program to the existing welfare system in economically depressed U.S. cities directly bonded to the global economy. I argue that the contemporary U.S. government programs designed to assist poor single mothers does not provide a valuable solution to the growing number of poor single-parent (mother only in this case) families impoverished due to the global economy. By rescinding their government assistance and transitioning them into the ranks of the working poor with a sixty month in a lifetime limit to federal assistance, these women are unable to be independent and self-sustaining heads of families at the time of completion of the welfare assistance program. Consequently, the project explores whether the program offered at Gerard Place could serve as a supplement to current government assistance programs designed for poor single parents. Gerard Place, where the interviews were conducted, is a transitional housing program for homeless single parents. I employ qualitative data analysis of questionnaire interviews conducted with the residents of Gerard Place to reach my conclusions. Secondary data acquired from the Gerard Place (e.g., the After Care Program at the Gerard Place) and other local and national agencies complement the qualitative analyses.