Salvation Army in USA Launches Poverty-Measuring Tool // Oct 9, 2015

Data gathered by The Salvation Army is to be used to gain a greater understanding of poverty in the USA. Working with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army has produced a Human Needs Index (HNI), which will serve as a powerful tool to track basic human needs, with different indicators and less lag time than conventional government data.

According to current USA Government figures, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. The HNI includes seven types of services representing basic human needs: meals provided, groceries, clothing, housing, furniture, medical assistance and help with energy bills. They were selected from more than 230 service variables consistently tracked across time and regions by The Salvation Army. The HNI aggregates these seven indicators, at national and state levels, at monthly intervals using figures collected since 2004.

Una Osili, Director of Research for the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, says: 'The Salvation Army has a presence in communities across the country, urban and rural, and has historically collected very timely information on the provision of housing, food and many other aspects of human need, allowing the HNI to draw on data that has not previously been available.'

'Poverty is among the most complex issues facing society,' explains Dr Amir Pasic, Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the school. 'The HNI reflects that complexity by providing a better understanding of the multiple facets of need confronting poor individuals and families. Its sensitivity to changes in need based on actual service provider data offers insights into trends and patterns that can help inform decision-making and the broader societal discussion about alleviating poverty.'

Commissioner David Jeffrey, National Commander of The Salvation Army in the USA, adds: 'We hope the HNI becomes an important tool for policy leaders, researchers and other social service providers to help our country become increasingly responsive to the needs of the poor.'

For more information about the HNI and its methodology, or to download the full report, visit


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