Niagara Gazette — • “About 15 percent of Niagara Falls’ most vulnerable have urgent concerns for food.” The report defines parts of Niagara Falls as a “food desert,” areas where lower-income populations do not have access to groceries.
• “Crime rates are alarming.” Researchers said over the course of a year, more than one out of every hundred persons will be the victim of a violent crime, either murder, rape, robbery or assault.
The Mobile Safety-Net Team surveyed 359 residents as part of its community needs assessment. One out of two residents surveyed said they have encountered “difficulty” getting services. One in five named “income limits” as the most common barrier to their success. Others on the list included traveling difficulties, distance from job centers in Erie County, criminal records, lack of full-time job opportunities, low levels of educational attainment, difficulty in navigating the network of available human support services and lack of awareness about available programs in their community.
Pirrone said conversations with Cataract City residents living at or near the poverty line often involved a common message: They feel “trapped” by their financial circumstances.
”In a lot of the communities where we work people talk about a lack of hope, and I think in Niagara Falls it was the most prevalent,” Pirrone said. “They don’t see a way up. They don’t see a way out.”
Sharon Ana Entress, a senior policy associate with UB’s Regional Institute, said one of the recommendations made in the study was to provide more access to case workers for people living in poverty.
”We found that it seems like folks in poverty that don’t have those social networks in, maybe, dealing with hopelessness and not seeing the options, they really need more hand holding in navigating the system in accessing resources and opportunities,” Entress said.