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Fighting Poverty In Eastern Iowa

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- In his small riverside apartment, flanked by an audience of one (a cat named Mr. Simmons), 75 year old retiree Larry Lloyd plays the blues on his old guitar.

You would think he has every reason to strum those notes - his hands crippled by age and his world crippled by poverty.

Life goes on, with or without you, Lloyd says. Sometimes I wish it would go on without me, and sometimes I'm glad it's with me.

Lloyd is one of 20,500 people in Linn County considered poor by the US census bureau. In his census area, he is one of 567.

The Salvation Army says the dynamics of that population are changing.

People don't think of poverty and directly go to someone living under a bridge or in a box, says Lia Pontarelli with the Salvation Army.

A breakdown from the organization shows 80% of the people they serve, like Lloyd, own or rent property. 58% have college experience or are college grads. 27% of the people they serve - not from the downtown area - but the 52404 zip code.

The majority of people in poverty, they are your neighbor, or a kid's classmate, Pontarelli says.

While they say an abundance of services exist, the challenge is getting people to use them. Either they don't know they exist, or they are ashamed to ask for help.

I had numerous people that said they really didn't want to do this, but they wouldn't be able to make the ends meet, Pontarelli says.

Despite his predicament, Lloyd manages to keep up the optimism.

Im luckyI have to be one of the luckiest guys, he says.

Lucky, because knowing he can't do it alone, he depends on organizations like the Salvation Army - his so called guardian angels.

If I was down and destitute, I figure if I can find a box of macaroni and cheese, I got it made.

Here are some local resources for those that need assistance: - (319) 364-9131 - (319) 393-7811 rapids&st=IA

To take a look at that interactive map, visit
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