The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data indicating a continued increase in poverty rates throughout the city of Rochester.
The data, updated from 2014, shows a slight decrease in overall poverty from 33.8 percent to 33.5 percent, but indicated an increase in rate of extreme poverty — below half the federal poverty line — from 16.4 percent to 17 percent. The city’s child poverty rate decreased from 52.5 percent to 51.6 percent.
The statistics were compiled by the City of Rochester Mayor’s Office of Innovation in partnership with the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative and ACT Rochester based on information gathered by the Census Bureau’s five-year American Community Survey from 2011 to 2015.
“The information compiled in this report is used to guide the RMAPI and is critical to its success and measurement,” said Leonard Brock, RMAPI director. “We know that it will take more than a year to see a change in our current poverty rates. We are making great strides launching the pilot of our adult mentoring programs, changing policies and practices to help people impacted by poverty and helping our community better align to solve our challenges.”
Rochester continues to be the fourth poorest city in the U.S. among the top 75 metropolitan areas, the top three being Detroit, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; and Dayton, Ohio. Among the 10 poorest U.S. cities, Rochester continues to rank fourth for its childhood poverty rate and now ranks third for the rate of people living in extreme poverty, moving up from fifth.
To put Rochester’s poverty rate into context, the January 2015 report compared the city’s statistics to a list of 18 principal cities in similar-sized metro areas within 200,000 of the Rochester population. Included in the benchmark group are Buffalo; Hartford, Connecticut; Richmond, Virginia; Birmingham, Alabama; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Louisville, Kentucky; and Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Census data found for this benchmark group of cities that Rochester now ranks first in overall poverty, edging ahead of Hartford, and it continues to rank first in childhood poverty and extreme poverty.
“Our community’s battle against poverty is not about simple solutions or quick fixes,” said Jennifer Leonard, Rochester Area Community Foundation president and CEO. “Making a real difference will take time, focus and consistent attention from the business, government, education and nonprofit sectors in order to improve the lives of people living in poverty.”
“The city is proud to support RMAPI and the unprecedented work that our community has completed to date,” Mayor Lovely Warren said. “These statistics are a reminder of the need for our community to remain focused and work collectively as RMAPI, the city and other partners move to implement the first wave of pilot programs. These initiatives are intended to provide our residents the supports, services and opportunities that will allow families to thrive and achieve their goals. We look forward to monitoring these efforts closely and reporting their impact as relevant data becomes available.”