Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The problem of being middle class

The big problem of being middle class, as far as I can see, is that you earn too much to qualify for assistance but not enough to really make headway.

I just did a little research on the definition of middle class and it's pretty complicated. Part of the problem is that a high income in one area is barely scraping by in another. But I think J. D. Foster has a pretty good way of defining income class: the top 20% are rich, the bottom 20% are poor and the middle 60% are middle class, which is household incomes of around $25000-$100000. Yep, that pretty much include just about everyone I know.

What started all this? Last week I called the City of Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development Department (HAND) because they, in association with other organizations, were offering free home energy assessments as part of a Beat the Meter Blitz. Since I called so early, I assumed I had a place in the program.

Until today when I received a call from South Central Community Action Program to see if we qualified for their free program (we don't) because a question the person who took my information asked was misleading. Fine, we make too much so I needed to call HAND and try to get back on their list. But their list is full.

Now, I left a message with the person coordinating the program because I am NOT HAPPY about this. The reason we are apparently falling through the cracks, unless I get a phone call later today with positive news, is because I was asked what our monthly income was.

I told the woman I wasn't sure, but she had me guesstimate. So I guessed and told her that was approximately our TAKE HOME PAY. There is a big difference between net and gross income and I could have told her our annual gross income was too high. Actually, I did tell her we make too much to qualify for a free assessment and that was why I was so happy about this opportunity.

So now, because of a poorly worded question, it looks like we are getting screwed out of something we should have been able to get based on my applying in time.

Thanks, city worker. Want to pay for the $300+ assessment we're apparently not going to get for free? I thought not. I certainly don't have a spare $300.

I will update if we manage to squeak into the program, but right now it looks doubtful.

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