Albany poverty rates still highest in nation - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany poverty rates still highest in nation

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David Blackwell, Albany-Dougherty Homeless Coalition Chair David Blackwell, Albany-Dougherty Homeless Coalition Chair
La Donna Urick, Mission Change Executive Director La Donna Urick, Mission Change Executive Director
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

South Georgia's two largest cities are two of the poorest cities in the country.  A recent listing of 365 U.S. cities based on median income put Albany and Valdosta near the bottom.

Organizations dedicated to helping those in need weren't surprised by the findings.  But they say the problem could be fixable.  The boarded up windows found in many Albany neighborhoods may be signs of a larger problem.

"Poverty is a generational issue with so many of our residents here that struggle with poverty because it's a generational...almost like a generational curse," said David Blackwell, Albany-Dougherty Homeless Coalition Chair.

An MSN article based on U.S. Census bureau listed Albany as the fourth poorest city in the country based on median income.  Valdosta was listed as the third poorest. 

"I feel Albany has the resources to help people get out of poverty and out of homelessness, but it is trying to connect the dots, know where they need to go, and having people guide them," said La Donna Urick, Mission Change Executive Director.

Those who help the less fortunate aren't surprised by the ranking.

"I think it's very important that we encourage people instead of continuing to push them down," said Urick. 

Some say out-sourced manufacturing jobs have sustained poverty rates.

"With the losses Albany's suffered with the last 5 or 10 years or more, a lot of those people have remained in our community and have continued to struggle day in and day out to try to find a way to survive," Blackwell said. 

He said many unemployed people can't find a job because of criminal histories.  "Bottom line to end that cycle in our community has got to be jobs.  Jobs, jobs, jobs." 

He said recent legislation allowing offenders without felonies to restrict their record from potential employers could be a solution. 

"Just getting out of jail, being dropped off at the bus station and saying 'Hey, you know, have a great life and we hope that you can transition back to society,' when we don't have enough transitional shelters," Urick said.   

But community support, they said, may be the only solution to pull Albany back to the Good Life. 

A forbes report ranked Albany as the fourth most impoverished city in the nation a few years ago.  The recent MSN report found 12% of all households earned less than $10,000 in 2011, the highest in the nation. 

To learn how you can help those in need, visit www.missionchange.com, or call (229)886-6553.  

 

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