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Richmond County ranks high nationally for concentrated poverty, according to study

Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 12:14 AM
Last updated 12:30 AM
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Thousands more Augustans are living in neighborhoods with extreme poverty than 10 years earlier, making Richmond County the 26th-worst area in the country for concentrated poverty, according to a report released today by the Brookings Institution.

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Wanda Collier looks at the selection of food items available from the St. Stephen's Ministry of Augusta food bank on Greene Street. She has also received assistance from the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Wanda Collier looks at the selection of food items available from the St. Stephen's Ministry of Augusta food bank on Greene Street. She has also received assistance from the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority.

Since 2000, 8,541 more people in Richmond County are living in neighborhoods with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher, for a total of 26,638 people in such areas.

The Augusta metro area, including parts of South Carolina, ranked 19th in the study, which used U.S. Census data from 2000 to 2009 to compare the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan regions.

Since the recession began, both the number of poor neighborhoods in Richmond County and their populations increased, showing a re-emergence of concentrated poverty. The Brookings study showed there are 4.3 percent more people living in poor neighborhoods in the Augusta metro area, and 6.4 percent more in Richmond County, than in 2000.

The increase could be because more people are moving to poorer areas, or because the existing residents are becoming poorer, according to Elizabeth Kneebone, the author of the study and a senior research associate at Brookings.

“When somebody lives in a very poor neighborhood ... it leads to a lot of other difficulties,” she said. “You not only have to deal with your own poverty, but you’re also living in a neighborhood that often has poorer-performing schools, high crime rates, fewer job networks and opportunities. All of these other challenges makes it even harder to get out of poverty.”

However, not all people living in extreme-poverty neighborhoods are necessarily poor. An “extreme-poverty neighborhood” is one in which at least 40 percent of people live below the poverty line.

Of the 26,638 living in Richmond County’s extreme-poverty neighborhoods, 12,031 (45 percent) are considered poor. In the Augusta metro region, 16,025 (43 percent) of the 36,514 residents in such neighborhoods are poor.

Locally, resources for the needy are being tapped at rates never seen before as more people struggle to pay bills and keep jobs.

At the CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority, the homeless or persistently poor aren’t the only ones asking for financial and housing help.

Executive Director Gloria Lewis said she is seeing more families who are facing foreclosure and more working people whose paychecks are not meeting all of their everyday expenses.

“A lot of these people coming here are people who never would have darkened our doors had it not been for the turn down of our economy,” Lewis said.

Her organization spent $5 million paying utility bills for 15,000 struggling families last year alone.

Lewis said her organization served 30,000 residents last year, more than double the number the agency saw in 2000, to pay their bills, pay for home repairs or look for work.

“They need our help because their houses are being foreclosed on and some of them were going to be homeless,” she said. “With the unemployment rate so high, there may be jobs available but, a lot of times, they lack the skills of the few jobs that would be available. Most times, there’s very little they can do about the situation.”

Even with the increases in the number of people living in poverty, Kneebone said it’s likely the number of poor will increase again in the next couple of years.

Her study found that the recession forced 2.2 million more Americans into poor neighborhoods since 2000.

“There are policies that the federal government and state and local policy makers could put into place to help slow or even reverse these trends,” Kneebone said. “That comes from making sure we are investing in these exceptionally poor places but also making connections between those communities and other opportunities in the region, whether it’s better schools or jobs or ability to move affordable housing in a higher poverty neighborhood.”

In the meantime, local resources are helping financially struggling people get by.

Wanda Collier began using EOA in 2008 after she lost her job with a cleaning company because a sickness left her unable to work.

The agency helped her find housing after she had been without a stable apartment for years. When her disability checks weren’t enough to cover rent, utilities, food and daily living, the agency made her one of thousands it is helping during hard times.

“Now I don’t have to worry about a place to lay my head or air or heat or anything,” Collier said. “EOA has helped me more than financially. It’s given me self-worth and value.”

Collier said she does not want to have to depend on the assistance long term, but when times were hard, she was happy to get help.

“They say money shouldn’t matter,” Collier said. “It’s sad, but money is a lot. Can you just imagine life and getting by if you didn’t have any? I know what that’s like.”

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countyman
20584
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countyman 11/03/11 - 12:45 am
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I love how the the title

I love how the the title reads ''Richmond County ranks high''.. When in fact the metro area ranked even higher at 19th out of the 100 largest cities/metros.. I'm sure it's a coincidence similar to the Chronicle finally publishing the tribunals outside of Richmond..

AutumnLeaves
8446
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AutumnLeaves 11/03/11 - 12:47 am
1
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? Richmond County is Augusta

? Richmond County is Augusta (city) and Augusta (city) is Richmond County. So what is your point, countyman?

countyman
20584
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countyman 11/03/11 - 02:16 am
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My point is the title only

My point is the title only included Richmond County.. The metro area ranked even higher than RC did..

Augusta Richmond County and Richmond County(inlcuding the city limits of Hephzibah and Blythe don't have the same populations..

Sentinel
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Sentinel 11/03/11 - 02:21 am
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Sentinel
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Sentinel 11/03/11 - 02:25 am
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@countyman....you arguments

@countyman....you arguments generally hold water like a colander. Why don't you google (since the Chronicle doesn't like it when we post links) The Ten American Cities with the Lowest Credit Scores" and let me know what you think of #6.

countyman
20584
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countyman 11/03/11 - 03:17 am
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You don't live in RC so of

You don't live in RC so of course you don't have a problem with the title.. I mean you brought up the credit score to specifically bash Augusta while you commented.. The same group of people hate on Augusta and Richmond County daily. The credit score was based on metro Augusta, so you're county was included too. I think it's odd the Chronicle headline reads ''RC ranks high nationally'' when the metro area ranked even higher..

Why don't you google the numerous Forbes, Businessweek, Brookings, Relocate America, etc articles were Augusta is ranked in the top ten for best performing economies, best places to live, best places to raise a family, housing market, best cities for moms, etc.. I'm sure every mid size city is building a 115 acre development including hotels, restaurants, and retail.. Tell me what city was ranked the 7th best place to live in the entire US.. The ranking was based on every city in the US, and not the 100 largest..

P.S US Battery is adding 42k sq. ft. to their facility in South Augusta.. I'm sure the usual suspects don't want to hear about more construction coming to RC lol.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 11/03/11 - 03:48 am
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(C)ountyman, Best public

(C)ountyman,

Best public schools?

countyman
20584
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countyman 11/03/11 - 04:38 am
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This isn't a competition, and

This isn't a competition, and it's funny how you guys can't stand for somebody to bring up CC or AC. The same people bring up RC every single day on here..

Davidson located in downtown Augusta is the best public school by far in the CSRA.. Davidson, AR Johnson, CT Walker, and Freedom Park in Richmond County scored 100% vs Greenbrier in Columbia County in the 8th grade reading portion of the CRCT.. Comparing the high school SAT/ACT scores over the last several years. Westside usually had the highest score after Davidson, AR Johnson(RC) and Lakeside, Greenbrier(CC).. Comparing school vs school doesn't work well for CC. Using the overall scores, etc would work better in your favor..

Brad Owens
4717
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Brad Owens 11/03/11 - 04:48 am
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Riverman1
86855
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Riverman1 11/03/11 - 04:50 am
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"Using the overall scores,

"Using the overall scores, etc would work better in your favor."

You can say that again. Heh.

Riverman1
86855
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Riverman1 11/03/11 - 04:55 am
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We all sometimes try to

We all sometimes try to figure out what's wrong with downtown Augusta. Why it can't support various things, but we are not realists about the population and demographics. The true city area prior to consolidation only has about 45,000 residents. The majority of those are poor black residents who are just trying to get by and don't have a large disposable income. We do have a thriving CSRA as a whole, but concentrating tax money downtown with those demographics is a mistake.

corgimom
34023
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corgimom 11/03/11 - 04:59 am
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Countyman, here's what you

Countyman, here's what you don't get. You can quibble about your nonsense all day. What I see in that report is that there are a lot of Augustans that are suffering, and it is getting worse, not better.

How can a municipality be rated "Best Place to Live" when it ranks 26th in the nation for poverty? That's not a "Best Place to Live" by my standards. The rest of us understand that those fluff ratings by Forbes, etc. are nothing but PR flack.

You can "lol" all you want to. The rest of us understand the implications of what increasing poverty levels mean to Augusta, and it's not good. I don't see anything funny about poverty.

Riverman1
86855
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Riverman1 11/03/11 - 05:10 am
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I was lucky enough to live in

I was lucky enough to live in many places during my Army career and it's obvious Augusta has lots of poverty. It simpy shows. No surprises in the article. However, the CSRA as a whole does much better. I lived in Montgomery County, MD, a Washingto suburb, and often deemed the richest county in America. The houses didn't come close to parts of Richmond County and all of Columbia County. The most modest house here would cost a million bucks there. Beautiful Columbia Cty with its affluence and magnificient houses makes Montgomery Cty look backward. We don't know how lucky we are. Truth.

Brad Owens
4717
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Brad Owens 11/03/11 - 05:36 am
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Number don't lie people, but

Number don't lie people, but people lie about numbers...

shrimp for breakfast
5460
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shrimp for breakfast 11/03/11 - 06:04 am
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Hey but at least the rich are

Hey but at least the rich are getting richer.
I thought there was a War on Poverty. Must have gone the way of the War on Drugs.
Did you ever notice whenever we declare War on something like Poverty it invariably gets worse?
I declare War on kids who wear their trousers around their knees!

blackindependent
1
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blackindependent 11/03/11 - 06:41 am
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Oh SNAP!!! Look what you did!

Oh SNAP!!! Look what you did! You just said declaring war only makes it worse. When you see those pants around the ankles, remember it was YOUR FAULT!

blissie1027
0
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blissie1027 11/03/11 - 07:01 am
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Thank you for your service

Thank you for your service Riverman! I wonder what percentage of the poverty level in that demographic are veteran's? Not here to enter the argument, just having a passing thought...

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 11/03/11 - 07:19 am
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The causal link between poor

The causal link between poor educational achievement and poverty level is stronger than the causal link between poverty and poor school achievement. That is, poor education translates more frequently into poor jobs and incomes than economic poverty translates into poor academic performance.

No teacher or administrator who believes otherwise should ever be employed to work with kids from low SES situations.

Anecdotally, a friend and I were laughing yesterday about the insipidity of the prevalent notion that low-SES kids(Translation: Black and/or poor) can't learn. Although he and his wife attended Houghton School in the 50s, they have four college degrees between them. Their offspring? A Ph.D. from USC and a J.D. from Harvard Law. Another friend, the son of a single parent-mother and the Mississippi Delta, is well on his way to an M.B.A.

Don't tell me that po' folks can't learn.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 11/03/11 - 07:26 am
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(C)ountyman wants everyone to

(C)ountyman wants everyone to forget that the good schools he cites enroll fewer than 10% of the RCSS school population. Or does he think that the other 90% of the kids don't count?

cityman
-6
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cityman 11/03/11 - 07:51 am
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Countyman is all about smoke
Unpublished

Countyman is all about smoke and mirrors. Drive through downtown Augusta then cross the 13th St bridge and the North Augusta contrast to the Augusta ghetto will smack you in the face!

lifelongresident
1323
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lifelongresident 11/03/11 - 08:18 am
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it's to be expected that
Unpublished

it's to be expected that richmond county would rank high on the poverty list, when you have limited/non-existent job growth, high crime rates and gov't housing projects dotting almost every section of the city. but the way "ole joe bowles" described it the "grand" TEE CENTER was supposed to save augusta from the depths of poverty. until the governing authority get out of the mindset of of government dependence, get out of the public housing business, make crime reduction and drastcally improving the education system(by expelling all disruptive, violent, disrespectful, and children who have no interest in learning) then augusta will always lanquish in poverty

seenitB4
90705
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seenitB4 11/03/11 - 08:29 am
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0
river said.. We do have a

river said..
We do have a thriving CSRA as a whole, but concentrating tax money downtown with those demographics is a mistake.

I agree....Augusta could be better.....South Richmond county could be too......stop with the smoke & mirrors---pr people---spread that tax dollar around some more.

dstewartsr
20389
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dstewartsr 11/03/11 - 09:04 am
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0
Those statistics explain why

Those statistics explain why RC/Augusta is a Democratic stronghold.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 11/03/11 - 09:27 am
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0
Agreed seenitB4....there is a

Agreed seenitB4....there is a lot of focus on downtown but there are other areas of Augusta that have potential. The decision-makers have there own personal agenda.

TParty
6003
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TParty 11/03/11 - 09:45 am
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0
People will become poorer in

People will become poorer in the CSRA with all the different housing developments going up everywhere. Homes are becoming over saturated, which will lower the value of the home you own now, because so many other new homes will sit empty, and older homes will be neglected because of the ease of just buying a new place. Watch out for this one.

Riverman1
86855
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Riverman1 11/03/11 - 10:13 am
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South August and West Augusta

South August and West Augusta deserve a lot more than they get from the county.

countyman
20584
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countyman 11/03/11 - 01:37 pm
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0
Millions of dollars have/are

Millions of dollars have/are being spent around South Augusta.. How much are the supposed to get?? Milledgeville rd, Bungalow rd, Morgan rd, Diamond Lakes, trails/parks at Butler Creek, Vocational magnet high school, etc..

Corgimom.. Augusta doesn't actually rank 26th in the entire nation in poverty.. The ranking is for the top 100 largest cities.. This is based on neighborhoods having 40% of people living in poverty from 2000-2009.. If you compared 2008 to 2009, the number of families living in poverty in RC DECREASED from 20.9% to 18.2%..

Augusta was ranked the 7th best place to live because of the economy, housing market, low crime rate, etc..

Riverman.. The Central Business District is definitely not poor and majority black.. I think you meant some of the inner city areas(East Augusta, Laney Walker, Bethlehem,) and not the real 'downtown'. Rural Sourcing moved downtown and brought 100 high paying IT jobs($30k-$90k).. The CBD is richer than alot of places throughout the metro and CSRA..

Cityman.. Ride around West Augusta and notice the new Electrolux, Buffalo Wild Wings, Tutti Frutti expansion, 18k sq. ft. Cherry Street shopping center, the Village at Riverwatch underway, etc.. Then ride through North Augusta and tell me what can compete..

Ride around downtown and notice Rural Sourcing(100 IT jobs), 34 condos at the Whites Building, Tantra Lounge, Killer B Disc Golf, Sprint Food and Metro Market, Ellis street office/parking garage, etc..

countyman
20584
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countyman 11/03/11 - 01:57 pm
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I responded to the comments

I responded to the comments and my post will be made available soon..

Dstewartsr.. Can you explain why the metro ranked even higher than Augusta/RC did?? Besides Burke county, Columbia/Aiken/Edgefield/Mcduffie all vote for republicans...

Richmond County is leading the CSRA in new commerical permits, and several of those were issued downtown.. The point about downtown being poor is total nonsense.. The real downtown(CBD) doesn't include parts of East Augusta, Laney Walker, and Bethlehem.. I wonder why Rural Sourcing brought their IT jobs downtown, and not to another location then..

Craig Spinks.. Several schools in RC outperform CC schools in certain categories.. Please stop with your made up 90% statistics.. Unless you have something to back up your claims.. I can back up every single statment I've made unless it's my opinion..

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 11/03/11 - 03:46 pm
0
0
(C)ountyman, Yours is a

(C)ountyman,

Yours is a "really pertinent response" to my assertion that 90% of RCSS students attend schools/programs other than Davidson, Johnson, Walker, Freedom Park* and the ARC International Baccalaureate. Total the populations of these schools and programs. I'll be apoplectic if the total exceeds 3100, 10% of the RCSS' 31K student population.

*By the way, Freedom Park, a "local public school" situated on Ft. Gordon, receives considerable participation and oversight from Gordon authorities. In case you were unaware, many US Army personnel are not pleased with assignment to GA posts because our public schools compare so unfavorably to DOD schools and public schools in most other states. Don't you think that FG participation, rather than the Broad Street educracy, is the primary reason for FP's good performance?

allhans
24005
Points
allhans 11/03/11 - 04:04 pm
0
0
Brad. What an awful site you

Brad. What an awful site you sent
me to.

Ugh!

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