BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Local leaders are struggling with how to reduce poverty after a report shows the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metro area has more minorities living in poverty than most other cities across America. The study ranked our region in the top 10 cities with the highest concentration of minorities living in poverty.
News 4 talked to a handful of community activists and local lawmakers who told us they’re not surprised by the data.
The study shows some Buffalo neighborhoods have poverty rates of 60 to 80 percent, nearly double the rate in those neighborhoods in 2000.
“I’m not surprised,” said Franchelle Hart, the executive director of Open Buffalo.
Open Buffalo is working to reduce poverty in the Queen City.
“I think there’s a huge disconnect right now between the jobs that are being created and what the employers are looking for and the folks in the community, who want sustainable, long-term income in their lives and don’t have access to it,” said Hart.
The new study by Rutgers University Researcher Paul Jargowsky shows the concentration of African-American poverty in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metro area jumped about 16 percent from 2000 to 2013. In 2000, it was 30.8 percent and in 2013 it was 46.4 percent.
The Hispanic concentration of poverty rose two percent during that time from 39.4 percent to nearly 41.6 percent.
Hart told us the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Solar City will create new employment opportunities, which will help reduce poverty.
She said they’re focusing on job training through community benefit agreements, like the one they have with the Savarino Development Corporation for the 500 Seneca St. project.
“We’ve taken 30 workers from the inner city that are coming from traditionally impoverished neighborhoods and giving them the workforce development and the support systems necessary to really be successful in these positions,” said Hart.
She told us another important factor in reducing poverty is keeping young men out of jail.
“Making sure we’re not sending folks down a pipeline they can’t get out of, having that first negative interaction with law enforcement,” said Hart.
She said she wants to see stronger community policing programs and more extensive bias training for police officers.
Local lawmakers are also focusing on early education to reduce poverty.
“It’s tough because it ties in with our educational system and the way out of poverty is education and jobs and if you don’t have an education, it’s very difficult to get jobs,” said City Council Member Joseph Golombek, who represents the North District. “The educational system is broken in many regards in Buffalo and there’s no easy fix to that problem.”
He said one way to help our failing schools is to get parents behind their child’s education and make getting to school on time a priority.
Golombek said the city is also working to create more job training.
“We’ve had some conversations with Solar City and the medical campus coming to Buffalo and one of the goals they’re trying to achieve is teaching people now to take some of those jobs,” he said. “If you have thousands of jobs coming to Buffalo and you can’t utilize them, it helps but it doesn’t help in the same way as training the people who are living here to hopefully get them out of that cycle of poverty.”