With the giving season reminding us to be selfless and 37 million people in the U.S. lacking access to adequate food, a new report followed up on the Most Charitable States for 2023 with an in-depth look at 2022’s Neediest Cities.
Hoping to inspire goodwill toward the less fortunate, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 28 key metrics to determine where Americans are most economically disadvantaged. The data set includes factors like the child poverty rate, food insecurity rate,, and uninsured rate.
|1. Detroit, MI||11. Augusta, GA|
|2. Brownsville, TX||12. Birmingham, AL|
|3. Cleveland, OH||13. Newark, NJ|
|4. Gulfport, MS||14. St. Louis, MO|
|5. Fresno, CA||15. Fort Smith, AR|
|6. Laredo, TX||16. Indianapolis, IN|
|7. Philadelphia, PA||17. Baltimore, MD|
|8. New Orleans, LA||18. Toledo, OH|
|9. Los Angeles, CA||19. Jackson, MS|
|10. Shreveport, LA||20. Corpus Christi, TX|
- Pearl City, Hawaii, has the lowest child poverty rate, 3.28 percent, which is 14.7 times lower than Rochester, N.Y., the city with the highest at 48.23 percent.
- Pearl City, Hawaii, has the lowest adult poverty rate, 4.17 percent, which is 7.4 times lower than Huntington, W.V., the city with the highest at 30.77 percent.
- Overland Park, Kan., has the fewest homeless persons (per 1,000 residents), 0.30, which is 77.8 times fewer than Fresno, CA., the city with the most at 23.35.
- South Burlington, V.T., has the lowest unemployment rate, 1.50 percent, which is 5.3 times lower than Detroit, the city with the highest at 7.90 percent.
- South Burlington, V.T. has the lowest share of uninsured residents, 1.80 percent, which is 17.1 times lower than Brownsville, Texas, the city with the highest at 30.70 percent.
How the Composition of People in Need Changed
“Over the last 50 years, the composition of those considered ‘poor’ (below Federal Guidelines) have been immigrants, the elderly (before the indexing of Social Security), children, members of minority groups especially those of color, and more recently those with physical or emotional disabilities. While poverty has existed in every region and location, urban and rural, in recent years it has been concentrated more in large cities where a significant part of the population was of color, large families, recent immigrants, and the homeless. The pandemic ushered in large and new influxes of government money referred to as stimulus payments. The largest and most significant of these programs was the Child Tax Credit – government dollars that went directly to families based on the number of children and those living below the poverty line which was expanded,” said Phil Coltoff , senior fellow, New York University Silver School of Social Work; former CEO of the Children’s Aid Society of New York.
“The poverty rate (10-15%) and composition of who is in need have remained unchanged in recent decades. U.S. poverty rates fluctuate from year-to-year, and although poverty has been on a downward trend in the last decade, certain groups continue to be disproportionately affected by poverty, including children under 18 years and individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC),” said Lauren A. Hall, assistant research director, University of Maryland.
How Charities and Nonprofits Can Serve the Poor
“Charitable organizations and non-profits can play an active supplementary role to help reduce child poverty. They cannot achieve what only Government has the resources to do. Those that advocate for non-profits to fill the void are sadly misguided. So, what can non-profits do? Firstly, direct programs to those most in need by collaborating with public schools (community schools), faith-based organizations, tenant groups, trade unions, and local government to increase efforts to address the needs of poor children and their families. These outreach services include among others, foster care prevention, family therapy, voter registration, transportation services, and certification and distribution of Section 8 housing. These are the adjunctive and supportive services that the non-profit world can provide in ways that will help to raise the living standards for poor children and their families,” Coltoff said.
Main Focus to Outlining a Strategy to Help Needy
“From a policy perspective, the focus should be two-pronged. First, there needs to be a shift in overall job quality and benefits available to workers. In the current economy, low-income workers, BIPOC workers, and workers with low educational attainment are disproportionately represented in jobs with unpredictable schedules, unstable pay, and little to no benefits, which creates additional hardships. Even when states pass paid leave policies, they are often insufficient; in some cases, workers may still be penalized for using their time off to care for themselves or sick children. Second, the social safety net needs regular and sufficient updates to keep pace with rising costs and needs. Strengthening the CTC and reinstating the monthly payment can help stabilize families’ incomes, which has positive ripple effects on the development of children and their long-term outcomes. Strengthening and reauthorizing the TANF program can also support families. The TANF block grant amount has not been updated since its inception in 1996, and for most states, has resulted in declining benefits over the last nearly 30 years: currently, TANF reaches only 23 of every 100 families living in poverty. Finally, continuing regular updates to the Thrifty Food Plan for SNAP is critical, as is addressing the affordability of childcare and housing while supporting families through paid leave options,” Hall added.
“Local authorities can create strategies to help deal with inflation … During the Pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) became a lifeline for local communities translated into the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program (SLFRF), leading to consistent local spending on services and operations, according to the National League of Cities. Much of this revenue (38%) went to government employee wages or hiring. Another spending for programming, representing 57%) went to housing support, nutrition and food support, and youth and family programming. Through these APRA programs, local governments have been able to avoid devastating layoffs and still meet their basic citizen obligations during the Pandemic. In addition, there are more than half a million homeless in America, mostly in cities. The best thing we can do to help these homeless individuals is called Housing First where a local government or nonprofit prioritizes housing for the homeless, allowing them stability and subsequently empowerment to pursue personal goals and increase their quality of life as well as their life chances. Housing first is a policy approach based on the belief that people need the basic essentials like food and shelter before they can seek other less important activities, such as obtaining a job or drug addiction services. Local governments can also push more community health centers, which [are] government-funded centers that provide free and reduced-cost medical and dental care, they are listed at findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov,” said John Wood, Ph.D., professor and MPA co-coordinator, University of Central Oklahoma.
To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit.