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Rochester's poverty rates decrease

Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative
Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative

Recent U.S. census data shows a decrease in both Rochester’s child poverty rate and overall poverty rate.

The data, taken over a four and a half year period  from the start of 2015 to the end of 2019, shows that the child poverty rate dropped from 51% to just over 47%, meaning nearly 22,000 children living in Rochester are in poverty.

The new data was compiled by the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, the city of Rochester and ACT Rochester.

The results are also the first set of data to reflect the years that RMAPI has been working to reduce poverty in the community. The initiative began in 2015, working with various community organizations on implementing strategies.                      

RMAPI Executive Director Aqua Porter said they are pleased to see the changes, but added it'll take a lot more work to  dismantle what she called the “ecosystem of poverty.”

“Systems that ensure outcomes in housing, employment, transportation, criminal justice, food, education, and health care all have policies, practices and behaviors that reinforce things that keep people poor,” said Porter.

According to the data, there are 5,000 fewer people in poverty since 2015.

Still, with an overall poverty rate of 31.3%, Rochester is third on the list of the 10 poorest U.S. metropolitan areas.

Porter said the data was gathered through  the end of 2019 and doesn’t reflect those who recently fell into poverty as a result of this year’s pandemic.

“Whether the number changes next year for the five-year average, the reality is in this year, there are a lot more people who are impacted,” said Porter.

She said there is concern that once the state’s eviction moratorium is lifted at the end of the month, more people will fall into poverty.

April Franklin is an occasional local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition.