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Human Needs Index

The Salvation Army and Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy have released a new tool that provides regional and national information on basic human needs in low-income areas. The Human Needs Index uses data from 7,500 Salvation Army locations across the US. It shows nonprofits where support is needed the most.

Official national poverty data have long been calculated using a single dimension: income. At best, income statistics provide only a hazy picture of the actual conditions facing the hungry, the homeless, the unemployed, and the underemployed.

The Human Needs Index (HNI) introduces a new, multidimensional way to measure poverty and its effects. The key lies in the street-level knowledge of The Salvation Army, one of the country’s largest nonprofits delivering a safety net of services to those in need.

Published quarterly and developed from data amassed since 2004, the HNI provides the clearest illumination yet of trends in poverty and vulnerability. It is a critical new tool for policy makers, social services providers, and researchers.

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