Niagara Gazette — Mobile Safety-Net Team Supervisor Jeffrey Pirrone said it is hoped the project will help people living in poverty improve their chances of coming out from under their struggles. Organizers also hope the findings will highlight the dire need for change in communities like Niagara Falls where so many continue to be hard hit by high needs and limited opportunities.
”This is not supposed to be a report just to sit on a shelf,” he said.
The report highlights many shortcomings people in and around Niagara Falls have been discussing for years, including what are described as “alarming indicators and trends.” Among them:
• “Poverty is growing, while Niagara Falls’ population is shrinking.” The city’s overall population has declined by 9 percent since 2000 while the number of city residents living in poverty has grown by 2 percent over the same time period. Niagara Falls has 11,270 fewer residents than it did in 1990, representing an 18 percent decline. Since 1970, the city’s population has declined by 35,000.
• “Economic vulnerability is widespread.” In some tracts, such as downtown, Hyde Park and Highland Avenue, three quarters of residents are in poverty or at-risk. In these areas, which include U.S. Census tracts 202, 206, 209 and 213, at least two-thirds of individuals are “doing poorly with incomes under 200 percent of poverty.” Only six of the city’s 20 Census tracks are doing better than Niagara County as a whole, according to researchers.
• “Teen pregnancy and fragile young families are concerns.” Teen pregnancy rates in Niagara Falls zip codes (14301, 14303 and 14305) are the highest across Niagara County, at 10 percent more. Zip code 14303 has the second highest rate across Western New York’s eight counties.
• “Safe and appropriate rental housing is lacking.” According to the report, 55 percent of rental units if the Falls are “substandard,” either costing more than 30 percent of income, lacking in complete plumbing or kitchen facilities and/or house more than one person per room.