By: Marcos Lebron
BUFFALO, NY - For the first time since 2006, the Nation's poverty rate has declined.
But the same cannot be said for Buffalo.
On the heals of Governor Cuomo proclaiming, “ the sun is shinning, new jobs are coming to Buffalo, there is a new spirit in the air, their is a totally new environment in Buffalo” The US Census Bureau releases numbers that indicate the city poverty level increased. In fact, the poverty level is worse than when the Governor was first elected.
The rise in poverty particularly among Hispanics and African American is in light of more than $ 4.5 Billion in new spending on new projects in and around the Buffalo area, which include the Buffalo Schools, Buffalo’s Medical Campus, Canalside, Solar City, the River bend and Downtown Buffalo.
It appears that most of the spending which overwhelmingly has come from in the form of Taxpayers assistance, has not reached Buffalo’s minority community, which represent over 50 percent of Buffalo’s population.
A review of minority participation on project in around the Buffalo area, indicate that minorities are less than 3% percent of the workforce on any government-financed project in the area. The only area project to exceed 3% percent has been the University At Buffalo.
Likewise, the numbers for contacts and subcontracts to minorities for these projects show even worse numbers. It appears that the only ones benefiting from the Governors promises to buffalo are the large donors who have contributed to his and Mayor Brown’s reelection campaigns.
Mayor Brown insists that things are improving in Buffalo and has negotiated several project labor agreements with contractors in the area to increase minority participation in Buffalo’s growth. However, nothing has improved for Buffalo’s Minority community and contractor continue to ignore the labor agreements.
Panorama Hispano News sent reporters to various sites around the city to see how many minorities were working on LPCimininelli, Montanta and McGuire projects and we notice very few minority workers on the projects and in some cases, none. When we say few, we mean two or three.
Among children, the number of them living in poverty jumped dramatically-- up five percent from 2012.
According to the Census Bureau, 31.4% of Buffalo residents were living in poverty in 2014, which was more than twice the national average of 14.5%.
The Census Bureau also reports that more than half of the children residing in the city (50.6%) were from households with incomes below the poverty threshold for a family of four, which for 2013 was $23,834.
Erie County's total percentage of people living in poverty was 15.2%, which was slightly above the national average.
Despite the numbers, the administration of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to insist things are looking up for New York's 2nd largest city. In a statement from the Governor he responded.
"After decades of neglect, the progress in Buffalo is undeniable – private sector jobs are up, and unemployment is down more than 2% over the past four years, tied for the highest rate decrease of any region in the state. There is clearly more work to be done, and that is why the State will continue to invest in bringing jobs, new businesses to Buffalo."
For the first time in at least a decade, the majority of Buffalo children live in poverty.
The poverty rate for the city’s children under 18 increased from 45 percent in 2012 to 51.6 percent in 2014, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
Some 29,726 of the city’s 58,722 children under 18 live in poverty, according to the Census estimate.
That’s the third highest poverty rate for children among the nation’s 75 biggest cities, according to a Pew analysis of the data.
Buffalo’s child poverty rate was 37.5 percent in 2005.
The city’s overall poverty rate nudged upward as well, even as the nation’s poverty rate declined for the first time since 2006.
Buffalo’s overall poverty rate increased from 30.9 percent in 2012 to 33.5 percent in 2014. In 2005, the poverty rate was 26.9 percent.
The $17,000 that Maria Rosas earned in 2013 put her well below the federal poverty threshold for a family of four. Her three sons – ages 15, 9 and 5 – “eat for 20,” she said.
“I’ve got a big boy,” said Rosas, 29. “One pair of pants is, what, $30? So it’s hard. It’s difficult. But I’m making it.”
The reality facing parents like Rosas touches many parts of the community, from health and welfare programs to the Buffalo Public Schools, where the vast majority of students meet the school system’s definition of impoverished.
Among other findings in the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey:
- Buffalo’s poverty rate is more than twice the national rate of 13.5 percent.
- For Hispanics in Buffalo, the poverty rate fell from 50.3 percent in 2014 to 49.2 percent in 2014, but the city had the second-highest poverty rate for Hispanics among the nation’s largest 75 cities. Only Memphis had a higher rate. For Hispanics across the nation, the poverty rate fell from 25.6 percent in 2013 to 23.5 percent in 2014.
- The 2014 poverty rate for those in Buffalo who worked full-time and year-round was 3.6 percent, down from 4.2 percent in 2012. But the poverty rate was 31 percent of Buffalo residents who worked part-time or only part of the year and 42.1 percent for those who did not work at all.
- Among Buffalo adults who did not graduate from high school, the poverty rate was 43.2 percent in 2013. The rate dipped to 25.2 percent for high school graduates and 10.5 percent for those with a college degree.
- In New York State, Buffalo had a lower poverty rate in 2014 than Rochester (35.4 percent) and Syracuse (33.2 percent) but higher than Albany (25.7 percent) and New York City (20.9 percent).