Poverty study: Rochester ranks third

Updated: 06/06/2014 5:40 PM
Created: 06/06/2014 7:15 AM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

It is a ranking Rochester would prefer not to have. A new report finds that the Flower City has thousands of families struggling to get by. 

According to Business First, Rochester ranks third among major U.S. cities for family poverty. Included in the top five are Buffalo, Cleveland and San Bernardino, California. Topping the list is Detroit. 

The new report is consistent with other reports over the past couple of years that show Rochester has a severe poverty problem. 

For Samantha Copeland, it is a daily struggle. She works as a clerk at a grocery store and has held down the same job for seven years. With two children to raise, she is still just getting by.

Samantha Copeland said, "I'm still making $9.00 per hour. I have a small two bedroom house. RG&E is $300 a month. So that's pretty much where I'm at."

She is among the more than 12,000 families in the city of Rochester living below the poverty level. It is a number that ranks Rochester third nationally for family poverty rate.

Samantha Copeland said, "It's just hard with the bills, the jobs. There are not a lot of jobs. The pay rate, $8.00 an hour doesn't help people."

The ranking doesn’t surprise Diana Argauer either.

Diane Argauer said, "It might explain the 20% increase in our meal count. There are a lot of people who are in need."

Argauer is the Executive Director of the Northwest Neighborhood Outreach Center. At Grace United Methodist Church, the organization serves between 60 and 70 meals a day to people who come in hungry. She says there are many obstacles to pulling one’s self out of poverty that many of us take for granted.

Argauer said, "They can't just go out and get a car to go to work. It is not going to happen because they have to put food on the table. They have to feed their families, clothing, put a roof over their head."

Copeland tries to remain positive, knowing that her struggles affect her children as well.

Copeland said, "They do come first and if you can't supply your house, you can't pay your bills, they struggle, not just you."

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