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Poverty in U.S. Higher Than Thought

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The Journey Home
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The Journey Home's Scott Foster works with a homeless client at the agency's offices in downtown Murfreesboro.

Murfreesboro, Tenn  (AP-WMOT)  New census estimates out today show the number of Americans living in poverty is higher than ever - reaching a new peak of more than 49 million poeple, or 16 percent of the population.

The new numbers are higher than the official 2010 poverty rate of 15 percent that was reported in September.

Scott Foster directs the work of Journey Home, a homeless agency in downtown Murfreesboro. Foster says the number of people asking locally for help continues to rise, with something between 1800 and 2400 people experiencing homelessness in Rutherford County each year.

Foster says the demographics of homelessness are also changing. Families with children now make up 40 percent of the homeless population Journey Home serves.

The new census data suggest much of the increase in poverty nationwide results from rising everyday costs, such as out-of-pocket medical expenses.