Walla Walla Poverty Assessment: How Transportation, Healthcare, Employment, and Domestic Abuse Affect Latinos and Others in Poverty

Daria Reaven
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This study examines the characteristics and causes of poverty in Walla Walla, WA, particularly for the Latino population. The research asks several questions: due to the inherently multifarious nature of poverty itself, how do the variables of employment, transportation, health care, and domestic abuse affect the poor population? Additionally, what is being done currently to address poverty in Walla Walla, and what policies and practices can be implemented to reduce poverty?

Methods: Throughout my research, I used three different methods of data collection and analysis. I conducted interviews with both local service providers as well as individuals in poverty in order to gain various perspectives on the needs of the poor population. I coupled this data with quantitative information, both GIS mapping data as well as demographic and numerical information about Walla Walla and the nation in general. Concepts related to the importance of space and environment for impoverished minorities proved formative in my research.

Overall Findings:

There is dissonance between perceptions and reality regarding problems for the poor Latino population: there is documented quantitative need, but the Latino population does not appear to utilize social services.
Transportation:

  • Latinos appeared to use public transit less than whites.
  • There were notable limitations of public transit, such as access to the DHS and farm labors homes.

Healthcare:

  • Improved mental healthcare and dental care were cited as important to many participants.
  • Many participants cited discomfort when receiving care, due to a lack of insurance and/or cultural barriers.

Employment:

  • There is a significant lack of low-wage jobs available, and due to the generally high unemployment rate, there is unfair competition for the poor population.
  • Lack of upward mobility in available low-wage jobs.
  • Domestic Abuse:
  • Every impoverished female in my study experienced some instance of abuse.
  • Immigration status proved extremely exploitative for abusers.

General Recommendations:

  • Construct an accountability framework for service providers in Walla Walla, requiring them to serve all populations inclusively and effectively.
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