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.