Why Are We The 4th Poorest City In The Nation, When So Much Is Happening Here?


It was just announced this afternoon that Buffalo was ranked as the 4th poorest city in the entire nation,  only lagging behind three other cities (Detroit, Cleveland, Rochester). It was very shocking to see, as Buffalo is widely considered to be one the most affordable places to live right now in the US. On top on all that is all the economic development that is currently going on. Between projects at Catholic Health, Time Warner Cable, the Harborcenter and more, Buffalo has seen its largest boom since the turn of the 20th Century! Over a Billion Dollars in development as well as new jobs, and affordable housing should mean we are on the rise! However even with all that we rank 4th in poverty?

Yes, recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that 26% of residents of the city of Buffalo live below or at the poverty line. Food Banks and Kitchens are seeing more people and have fewer resources to work with, since cuts in Food Stamps. Some 99,000 people, including 43,000 children each month go to the Food Bank of Erie County to help feed their families. So with all the good news lately, this is a very surprising to me.

So I decided to delve deeper into this to see if we could find ways to solve the problem, or at least figure out why?

  1. We have had no economic growth for over 60 years in Western New York, add to that the loss of good paying Manufacturing jobs. What it all means is that you have less tax revenue for the city, and a mass exodus of people to other parts of Western New York, or States for better paying jobs. Couple that with lots of neglect from Albany over the last 30 years and you have a large portion of the reason why.
  2. Our city schools are in very bad shape, with graduation rates in some of the poorest areas hovering near 47%. With out a proper education kids are stymied before they can begin. Without higher education for the poorest, we will see a cycle of poverty emerge that can end up becoming entrenched. Also academically poor schools generally make residents move away which leads to drops in property value and other quality of life issues.
  3. The Minimum Wage needs to increase, and I’m well aware some people will not agree, but the facts are that 8-9 dollar an hour jobs do not allow people to support ones family. It’s not a popular move but families with more than one child will find it hard to feed everyone on a 290 dollar budget. When you factor in rent, car payment, utilities and I haven’t even gotten to groceries yet. If the wage increased somewhat, then at least some people may have a fighting chance.
  4. East Side Educational graphJobs, jobs, jobs…… I can’t say it enough. We need more good paying jobs, and more opportunities for the residents of the Queen City. With the amount of construction going on that isn’t necessarily the problem, but there is a need for more skilled labor, and entry-level positions that pay better here.
  5. There needs to be ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT in Buffalo’s EAST SIDE! Without any of the resources going back in over there, it will be impossible to lure those good entry-level and skilled labor jobs here. Over 50% of the residents of the East Side live in poverty, and if we are to change the culture as well as invest in Buffalo. With 1 in 2 living in poverty there, if you cut that in half you’ve won half the battle!
  6. We can’t forget where we came from. Not less than 10 years a ago Buffalo instituted a control board, and was on the verge of fiscal collapse. We have righted the ship, but have much more to do before we can declare ourselves truly safe.

One Comment on “Why Are We The 4th Poorest City In The Nation, When So Much Is Happening Here?”

  1. buffalogrl25 June 6, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    Well written! I agree – there so many exciting things going on, but we also have a lot more work to do yet.

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