Archive for August, 2008

Today the Census Bureau released findings on household income and poverty for 2007

The City of Buffalo, which ranked as the second poorest big city in America based on 2006 numbers, dropped one spot to number three behind the cities of Detroit, MI and Cleveland, OH.  Buffalo had a poverty rate of 29.9 percent based on 2006 census numbers and saw that rate drop to 28.7 percent for the overall population based on the new 2007 data.

The City of Buffalo has seen little to no improvement in its poverty level in several years and seems firmly entrenched in a battle for the bottom.

According to Bill O’Connell, Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance, the numbers highlight a lack of vision and political will to improve the lives of Buffalonians.

“The fact that so many children are growing up in poverty is a disgrace.  Some will try to spin these numbers as an improvement but lets keep the political back slapping to a minimum. These numbers are not numbers to be applauded. The high rate of poverty in Buffalo represents people who need real economic development that invests in people, small businesses, and neighborhoods. Hard-working families in Buffalo deserve better. The economic prosperity of all residents of Buffalo should be the lens by which we make all of our decisions as a community,” said O’Connell

According to the Alliance, economic development and prosperity can be achieved if the entire community comes together to right-size the city, take advantage of  the community’s assets and invests in neighborhood based small and medium size businesses rather than seeking silver bullet solutions to improving the economy.

The new report can be found at the following link:

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Last August the City of Buffalo was ranked as the Second Poorest Big City in America based 2006 Census numbers.  New numbers are expected to be released tomorrow.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has issued a report outlining what to look for in tomorrows numbers.

“On August 26 the Census Bureau will release findings on household income and poverty for 2007. These figures may well show that median income increased modestly and poverty declined modestly in 2007, the typical pattern for years well into an economic expansion. While improvements in incomes and poverty would certainly be good news, they should be viewed within the context of the expansion as a whole. 2007 marked the sixth – and probably the last – full year of the expansion, which began in late 2001. (See box on next page.) During the expansion’s first several years, median incomes fell, while poverty rose. (See Figure 1).

In recent economic cycles, incomes have often fallen and poverty risen for a year or two after a recession ends, but the post-2001 expansion took longer than previous ones to show improvements in these areas.

As a result, the 2007 figures may well show something unprecedented. For the first time on record, poverty and the median income of working-age households may be worse at the end of a multi-year economic expansion than they were at the bottom of the previous recession. That would be an unparalleled and troubling sign of the limits of recent economic growth.”

You can view the full report by clicking  here.

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At the Homeless Alliance, we say that folks have the right to safe, adequate, and affordable housing. Too often in Buffalo, housing is of two kinds:

1) It is affordable, but not safe and adequate; or
2) It is safe and adequate, but far from affordable.

One place, though, where housing is expected to be safe, affordable, and adequate is in our public housing system. Unfortunately, the Buffalo News reported today that Buffalo’s public housing (administered and managed by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority) has “miserable conditions”.

The entire article is posted behind the jump. (more…)

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It should not be surprising that, in the currently NYS fiscal crisis, those who will be hardest hit are lower-income Americans, living paycheck to paycheck, and struggling to keep up with daily cost of living. What could help alleviate the burden is by making richer New Yorkers – those who make over $1 million per year – bear more of the burden for state income taxes.

Not only is it good sense, but just such a notion has widespread support by New York voters. See below


“By a 78 – 18 percent margin voters support raising the state income tax on
people who make more than $1 million a year. Even Republicans support this tax
hike 56 – 36 percent. On other budget questions:
Voters prefer 56 – 32 percent cutting services rather than raising taxes;
If they must raise taxes, voters prefer 58 – 32 percent raising the state
sales tax rather than the state income tax..”

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The Homeless Alliance and the WNY Coalition for the Homeless, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is proud to present a day-long symposium entitled Ending Homelessness.

The symposium will take place on Tuesday, Sept 16th. from 8:30am-4:30pm.

Our Keynote Speaker is Philip F. Mangano, Executive Director, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Breakout session topics will include
– homeless supportive services
– homeless housing funding
– accessing mainstream benefits
– implementing Housing First models
– preventing foreclosure
– grassroots economic development

This symposium is for executive directors, program directors, case managers, community advocates, policy makers, homeless housing and service providers, human service providers, homeless outreach workers, and community and faith-based organizations.

The symposium will take place at the Hyatt-Regency in Buffalo. Cost will be $45/person. Invitation and Registration Form will follow. Any inquiries should be directed to Irene Pijuan at 847-0655 x264.

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The Florida Times-Union recently did a piece on families on Food Stamps who are having difficulty stretching their food budget out over the course of the month as food prices increase. One father of three (pictured above) has this story:

Hagins had been a maintenance man all his life.

He fell off a ladder, ripping ligaments in both knees. He lost his trailer, hasn’t been able to work for 10 months now and lives in a small Westside apartment with the help of Community Connections.

Hagins, his wife and three children have been on food stamps for five months now. That $600 used to make it almost the whole month.

“Might be out of bread, but only a few days,” he says. “You can do without bread.”


It lasts three weeks tops and the family has to go to its church for help.

Hagins, 42, has diabetes and heart trouble. He knows he needs to eat better, but he can’t pay for it.

“If I took $300 a month to buy diabetic food, you think they’d have enough to eat?” he asks, gesturing toward his three kids. “I don’t think so.”

Here’s a link to the article.

Here’s a pdf of the article.

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