Poverty continues to grow in the nine-county region. A new report issued today by ACT Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation (see below) shows that more than 167,600 people in the Rochester region live below the federal poverty line.
The regional poverty rate is 14.3 percent, which is an increase of 1.1 percent from ACT Rochester’s first report in 2013. The poverty rate in the City of Rochester is 33.8 percent, up from 31.1 percent in 2013; the report calls the city’s poverty rate “extraordinary.”
Compared to similar-sized cities in the US, Rochester is second in overall poverty, first in child poverty, and first in extreme poverty – meaning people who live below half of the federal poverty level.
The report also refers to an analysis by the Brookings Institution that found that Rochester has the nation’s third-highest concentration of poor people living in extremely poor neighborhoods. And the number of those extremely poor neighborhoods has grown from 27 to 37, the report says.
But the report also refers to the region’s “bold and unprecedented” fight against poverty. The centerpiece of that fight is the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, which has just started implementing pilot programs in select city neighborhoods. The effort’s goal is to reduce poverty by 15 percent in five years and 50 percent in 15 years.
People still seem to think that there is a simple solution to “fix” poverty, despite being told many times and by multiple people that there is not, says Ed Doherty, retired vice president of the Rochester Area Community Foundation. And even among people who care about the issue of poverty, there is not a great deal of understanding of concentration of poverty, he says.