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Rochester Ramps Up Anti-Poverty Efforts Amid Drop in Western NY Bankruptcy Filings

Pink piggy bank with a dollar bill in the slotIt seems that piggy banks across the Western New York region are sitting fat and happy these days, with the number of bankruptcy filings in the area dropping by an impressive 6.5% during the month of May, even though the number of Buffalo area files crept upward.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court Western District of New York released new data showing 429 filings during the month of May, a decrease of 30 filings compared to May 2014. This is despite a small increase in filings in the Buffalo area which rose slightly from 285 a year ago to 287 last month resulting in a year-over-year difference of less than 1%.

On the other hand, the number of filings in the Rochester area fell by more than 18% last month, dropping from 174 to 142 during the month. This has been the sixth consecutive decrease in May filings and the lowest number of filing reported during the month since 2006.

The steady drop in the number of Western New York bankruptcy filings reflects a national trend in which bankruptcy is on the decline. Already this year, bankruptcy filings have dropped 10.3%, falling from 2,145 during the first five months of 2014 to 1,924 for the same time frame in 2015.

While the exact reasons for this decrease are unclear, it could simply be because Americans are earning more. A 2011 study found that 60% of bankruptcy filers earn salaries of less than $30,000.

In Western New York, Rochester has been committed to redoubling its anti-poverty efforts and recently elected Leonard Brock as the new director of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative. Brock, who is African American, went on to earn a doctorate in executive leadership despite growing up in a neighborhood that falls within Rochester’s crescent of poverty.

Mayor Lovely Warren expressed her support of the anti-poverty initiative as well as for Brock when she spoke at a news conference on May 28 after Brock’s new title was announced.

“Growing up in the 14605 ZIP code, growing up in William Warfield, poverty touches him skin-to-skin,” Warren said. “It touches his family. He knows it. And when you have the opportunity to do something about it, it drives you.”