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Rochester Area Poverty Levels On the Rise

MoneyNationwide, about 75% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and a full 27% have no savings to speak of. This statistic is only exemplified in the Rochester area, where poverty is on the rise.

According to a new report released by ACT Rochester earlier this month, Rochester’s poverty level has grown substantially within the past year. Currently, the poverty level is at 14.3%, growing from 13.2% in 2013.

To put this in perspective, this figure means that more than 167,600 people in the Rochester area are living under the federal poverty line in the nine counties of Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates.

More than one-third of those living in the City of Rochester live in poverty. Described in the report as “extraordinary,” this statistic has grown from 31.1% to 33.8% between 2014 to 2015.

The additional findings are disheartening. Families headed by women with children under 18 had a poverty rate of 60%, the number of extremely poor neighborhoods in Rochester grew 10 percentage points to 37% since 2010, and that African Americans and Latinos are three times as likely to be poor than the whites in the region.

The one silver lining in this study? Poverty for seniors fell from 7.8% to 7.1%.

ACT Rochester tracks both poverty in the Rochester region as well as the community and government’s response to it. This year, they included a self-sufficiency standard within the report, which differentiates between living under the poverty line and the point at which a family can meet its basic needs without external subsidies.

This standard includes the average cost of housing, food, transportation, health care, child care, and taxes in Rochester. Almost two-thirds of City of Rochester residents are not financially self-sufficient.

Sadly, not many Rochestarians seem to mind.

“There is very little shared knowledge. Even among people who seem to care deeply, there is a sense that there must be some simple solution,” said Ed Doherty, the project manager and editor for the ACT Rochester “This seems to be the case regardless of people’s political ideology. Likewise, there is not a great deal of understanding of the issue of concentration of poverty. Many people express surprise about this reality.”