What is Hygiene Access?
Hygiene access is the solution to hygiene poverty.
Hygiene poverty occurs when individuals and households are unable to afford critically needed hygiene items for themselves or their families when they need them.
Often called a "hidden crisis". hygiene poverty often denies people of their integrity and dignity and creates barriers to general well-being, social interactions and opportunity and can lead to a number of other social, emotional and health related challenges.
Hygiene access programs ensure that clients can get the hygiene items they need at a cost that is affordable and in a way that is accessible.
Why Hygiene Poverty?
There isn't very much research conducted that focuses exclusively on "hygiene poverty".
Hygiene Poverty occurs when families cannot afford basic hygiene necessities as needed.
A related term is "Period Poverty" or the inability to consistently afford menstruation hygiene items.
To understand the number of individuals and families that suffer from hygiene poverty, we can consider the number of families that struggle with food instability and food access.
In 2020, 1 in 4 families experienced food instability. In 2019, 10.5% or approximately 35 million Americans struggled with food insecurity. Many of these families could not afford their basic necessities; including but not limited to basic hygiene necessities.
Statistics from NPR, Retrieved 2021
Who are "Gap Families"?
Parts of Peace's work exclusively focuses on "gap families" or families that earn too much to qualify for benefits but not enough to consistently make ends meet and support their families.
"Gap families" are a group of working class families that are particularly vulnerable when it comes to hygiene access. "Gap Families" are unique in that they earn significantly over the federal poverty line, but yet significantly under the survival wage.
According to the latest ALICE Report for the state of Maryland, up to 39% "of household's can't afford the state's high cost of living and don't earn enough to pay for basic necessities....." United Way ALICE Report.
Income data shoes that of that 39% identified in the ALICE Report, 19% or approximately 1.15 million Marylanders and up to 1/3 of Baltimoreans are "Gap Families".
Why Basic Needs
Basic needs are the necessary foundation for individuals, families, groups and societies to meet their fullest potential.
As humans, we thrive in an environment where we are safe, well-nourished, have access to information and can enjoy the most basic of needs like housing, food, shelter, healthcare, freedom of religion, access to education and more.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs most aptly depicts the correlation between basic needs and almost every other function / stage of life.