Human Development: Valley Ranked Last

July 17, 2008 9:38:44 PM PDT
45-year old "Rodney" has lived in Fresno County most of his life. He and his fiancé share a shed transformed into a living space. A mattress serves as a bed. Cooking is done outside with propane.Rodney's situation is not unique. Poverty is rampant all over the valley. Southern Fresno County is considered one of the richest agricultural areas in the world. In the same neighborhood where crops are grown to distribute globally live the poorest of the poor ... There are homes with no indoor plumbing and no electricity. Cars are parked with no gas and no registration tags.

Valley lawmakers have known for a few years their constituents are lacking in the basic building blocks of life. But Representative Jim Costa of the 20th Congressional District, named as the worst district in the country, says maybe now Central California will now get the help it needs.

Representative Jim costa/20th congressional district told ABC30, "I've told my colleagues that we need to get our fair share of tax dollars that we send to Washington. People focus on Appalachia and other poor areas of the country, but the San Joaquin Valley had had those same challenges."

The San Joaquin Valley has challenges like high dropout rates and lack of healthcare and low pay. The latest information shows half of valley families have incomes below $16,000.

31-year old Veronica Estrada is a mother of four on public assistance. She says she's lucky if she sees 16-thousand dollars over two years. She says she lives her life day by day.

The authors of the study have some recommendations for valley congressman. Among them promoting and supporting public health. Dr. Ed Moreno, Fresno County's Public Health Director says, "the reason that's important is a sound public health system can prevent disease ... injuries ... and unintended injuries and accidents."

Now it's up to Valley Congressmen to convince their colleagues to follow the recommendations and back them up with a few extra dollars going West.
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