City report identifies poverty causes for people with disabilities

Dec 10, 2018


People with disabilities in Rochester face poverty at a level higher than any of the other 75 largest metropolitan areas in the country, according to a report recently released by the city.

A map from the city's report shows heavy overlap between census blocks with high rates of poverty and census blocks with high proportions of residents with disabilities.
Credit City of Rochester / Office of Innovation

Employment rates are almost three times lower among people with disabilities than they are for nondisabled people in Rochester, the report found. People with disabilities are also overrepresented in the city’s lowest-paying industries.

The report grew out of work last year that looked at poverty in the Rochester area in general terms. But the authors said that work didn’t pay enough attention to the poverty faced in particular by people with disabilities.

The authors identified unemployment as the primary cause of poverty among people with disabilities in Rochester. And, they said, it’s cyclical. People with disabilities face educational barriers that result in them having lower high school graduation rates. That makes finding a job more difficult, and depresses their wages, which makes it harder to afford more advanced degrees or technical training.

Accessible transit is unavailable in many of the suburbs where accessible housing is located. That makes it difficult for people with disabilities to get to work and forces them to spend disproportionately high amounts of their income on transportation, the report said.

The city urged the local business community to recognize the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. “Wages are the lynchpin to moving out of poverty,” the report said. The city also encouraged the local branches of state agencies to set a model by seeking out people with disabilities to fill open positions.

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.