Augusta suburbs have high poverty rate

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Augusta has made a Brookings Institution top 10 list, but it’s not exactly good news.

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Warehouse tech Gary Leigh unloads a crate of donated food at Golden Harvest Food Bank, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, in Augusta, Ga.   RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF
RAINIER EHRHARDT/STAFF
Warehouse tech Gary Leigh unloads a crate of donated food at Golden Harvest Food Bank, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, in Augusta, Ga.

The Augusta metro area ranked ninth in the nation for areas with the highest suburban poverty rate, according to Brookings’ interpretation of 2010 U.S. Census data.

According to the analysis, 16.9 percent of people in the Augusta suburbs were living below the poverty line. Burke, Columbia, McDuffie, Aiken and Edgefield counties were considered suburbs of Augusta.

Mike Firmin is the executive director of Golden Harvest Food Bank, which has locations all over the Augusta metro area. He said he talks to people all the time from all over the area who say they never would have thought they would have to ask for help feeding their family.

“People come to me and they say, ‘I’m embarrassed to ask this, but where are the food pantries in Columbia County?’” he said. “It’s people who have volunteered in the past, people from Columbia County, people who have had six-figure incomes. It’s everyone.”

Brookings senior research associate Elizabeth Kneebone said the poverty sprawl is due to both the regional economy and the local population dynamic.

“Poverty trends tend to lag behind unemployment a few years,” Kneebone said. “As long as unemployment numbers are high, poverty will be a growing issue.”

Suburbs are also growing faster than cities, and Kneebone said more people are moving to the suburbs in hopes of finding better jobs. Growing areas often have more jobs in construction, hospitality, retail and restaurant industries, but those are still jobs that don’t tend to pay very well, she said.

“Unemployement is still pretty high,” she said. “We probably haven’t seen the worst of these numbers.”

Hard times have definitely affected Golden Harvest, but Firmin said it has triggered an unexpected increase in personal and small-business donations and volunteers.

“So many people are touched, and everyone is experiencing the recession,” he said. “It’s unbelievable what the recession has done in this area as far as provoking new need.”

Corporate donations are down, Firmin said, adding that Golden Harvest has had to lay off employees and is currently consolidating its Faith Food Factory and main distribution centers to reduce costs.

“Poverty is starting to touch every level of society,” he said. “Years ago, we had to make a case for people to believe there was hunger in our area.”

READ A BLOG on suburban poverty

by Brookings Institution senior research associate Elizabeth Kneebone at http://bit.ly/nnYhjN.

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countyman
16838
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countyman 09/26/11 - 11:31 pm
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Another reason why the

Another reason why the leaders in the metro(6 counties) and CSRA(18 counties) need to work together. Burke, Mcduffie, and Edgefield are still rural counties in the area. The faster each county learns to work as one instead of competing against each other. The faster larger economic developments move into the area over the next few years. If you continue building up the city center(CBD) and expanding the airport. Then more economic developments will start locating to the diffrent suburban counties.

If you're not for the mix-use baseball stadium in downtown Augusta. Then atleast suggest something else to generate revenue.. The Regency Mall is another prime example.. Either a developer purchases the mall or the city must buy the mall and redevelop it. It's been a total of eleven years since the closing of the mall.

If the article had described the suburban areas of Richmond County. There would be atleast twenty negative comments by now. Several people who didn't know already refrenced the article in order to bash Augusta. That kind of attitude only divides the area and roadblocks progress. Nothing is wrong with legitimate concerns, but never giving Augusta credit for anything makes no sense.

raul
3368
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raul 09/26/11 - 10:07 pm
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Made the top 10 huh? That's

Made the top 10 huh? That's embarassing. Wonder what the poverty level would have been without Columbia Cty. included?

hhollyd
0
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hhollyd 09/26/11 - 10:39 pm
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keep on voting republican't.

keep on voting republican't.

Pu239
284
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Pu239 09/26/11 - 10:41 pm
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All hail! The Oracle of Olde

Unpublished

All hail! The Oracle of Olde Town has spoken....

countyman
16838
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countyman 09/26/11 - 10:42 pm
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The good news is the

The good news is the percentage of residents in poverty increased much slower than our neighbors from 2000-2009.. I'm including Richmond County this time, unlike the Augusta Chronicle article..

Metro Augusta ranked 70th out of 100 in terms of change in percentage of the residents in poverty(2000-2009).. Which means the metro area had a steep uphill battle at the start(back in 2000), but were making progress..

Charlotte 90.4%, Raleigh 82.4%, Atlanta 82.2%, Greensboro 75.7%, Chattanooga 64.3%, Greenville 61.7%, Nashville 56.8%, Jacksonville 49.2%, Louisville 40.2%, Knoxville 37.3%, Charleston 34.5%, Augusta 22.6%, Birmingham 12.8%...

dougk
3
Points
dougk 09/26/11 - 10:55 pm
0
0

Countyman...."either a

Unpublished

Countyman...."either a developer purchaes the [Regency} mall or the city must buy the mall and redevelop it." Please tell me why these are the only two options. Why not tear it down and grow cotton??
Is the city (i.e. taxpayers) obligated to buy blighted property??

countyman
16838
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countyman 09/26/11 - 11:44 pm
0
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I did suggest giving the

I did suggest giving the private market additional time to purchase the property first. Then I stated the city should redeveloped the property instead of having a empty mall.. The Regency Mall can't be compared to the regular vacant properties due to it's massive size. I don't want the city to buy every vacant property around the county.

Eleven years is entirely too long, and something needs to happen ASAP.. I don't see my other comment printed either yet..

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 09/26/11 - 11:39 pm
0
0

What impact do lousy public

What impact do lousy public schools have on poverty rates?

Craig Spinks, Ed.D.
CEO
Georgians for Educational Excellence

countyman
16838
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countyman 09/27/11 - 01:11 pm
0
0

Since the chronicle didn't

Since the chronicle didn't share the information. The Brookings ranking is based on the top 100 largest metros.. Once you include Richmond County and compare metro areas instead of suburban poverty. The poverty rate stacks up much better vs other cities.. The metro poverty rate(including Richmond)also grew slower in terms of percentage from 2000-2009 compared to nearby cities..

BevBoudreaux
0
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BevBoudreaux 09/27/11 - 01:51 am
0
0

Just think, if not for

Just think, if not for Columbia County, Augusta would have probably landed at #1 on this dubious list.

Iwannakno
1533
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Iwannakno 09/27/11 - 01:56 am
0
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No offense countyman but why

Unpublished

No offense countyman but why would any entity want to get involved with the politicians of ARC? Also, no to a new baseball stadium. The one we have is fine. If Cal wants a new stadium he has 2 options. Pay for it or move.

Riverman1
70723
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Riverman1 09/27/11 - 04:47 am
0
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Columbia County is by far the

Columbia County is by far the wealthiest county in the CSRA. Aiken is second and Richmond County third. It's kind of a strange article that suggests the counties outside of Richmond bring down the per capita income of the area and that's not accurate.

There are lots of neglected properties in Richmond County. Why single out Regency Mall property for the county to buy? Didn't one of the many costly studies suggest making it a pond?

Little Lamb
40212
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Little Lamb 09/27/11 - 08:01 am
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The main problem here is the

The main problem here is the phony way the federal government defines poverty. They've got the income threshold set way too high, and then they don't include offsets for government benefits such as food stamps, PeachCare, etc. The "poverty line" is set up to increase the size of government by increasing bureaucracies to give out benefits.

Little Lamb
40212
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Little Lamb 09/27/11 - 08:14 am
0
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The other thing that's got to

The other thing that's got to happen is to reduce the amount of time a person can receive unemployment benefits. Right now, you can receive benefits for 99 weeks, and they're even considering increasing the time! That's the wrong way to go. They need to cut off benefits after 26 weeks. If you get unemployment payments indefinitely plus the food stamps plus the charitable food pantries, you have less incentive to go back to work.

seenitB4
72926
Points
seenitB4 09/27/11 - 08:26 am
0
0

Amazing how countyman can

Amazing how countyman can change the subject & make it SEEM we are bashing Augusta....no way...we are bashing YOU & your ideas to send all the tax $$$ to downtown---we have always said the suburbs need more attention---this article just proves our point.....The poor NEED jobs in their area---they need schools--good schools....building boondoggles won't help the poor, jobless in Richmondcounty suburbs...we want to work with the sheriffs office-we are the very ones saying they need more $$$....Cleaning & making south Augusta safe would help all of the CSRA......or continue to see these articles.

seenitB4
72926
Points
seenitB4 09/27/11 - 08:31 am
1
0

Downtown Augusta hasn't cared

Downtown Augusta hasn't cared a rats behind about the Regency Mall in YEARS....this could have been developed into something profitable for Augusta but nooooo that wasn't in "their" plans...so they let it ROT. Maybe had they developed it years ago.....many south Augustans would have jobs today & this article would be moot.

OpenCurtain
10049
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OpenCurtain 09/27/11 - 09:27 am
0
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The news does not surprise

The news does not surprise any one living on the South-side, not even the slightest bit. Ever since the forced city / county consolidation years ago, we on the South-side have watched an all out effort to get new business steered to the Columbia - Richmond County west side corridor by politicians. Right, or Wrong many on the South-side feel they have become a dumping ground for the poverty and crime problems. Given the obvious absence of any encouragement to attract any Fortune 5000 or Southeast 1000 type employers to the South-side, it is no wonder we are getting hit hard. Maybe it really is time to rethink the non working unified City/County government model for something that seriously looks after and protects the interests of the South Side? May be a new county / city dividing line could be the Gordon Highway?

seenitB4
72926
Points
seenitB4 09/27/11 - 09:49 am
1
0

opencurtain.....Thank you for

opencurtain.....Thank you for that post...I 100% agree with you..the Gordon Hy would be a dividing line...it is time to vote someone in office who CARES about the problems in South Augusta..
Some have written the south side off......the people have had enough....if the Regency had been developed years ago many youngsters would have a decent job today....a stepping stone out of poverty...not just 100s but thousands could have been helped....
I read an article by Sen.Jim Webb yesterday he said that if a black teen didn't finish high school he had a 60% chance of ending up in jail....so who does that hurt---EVERYONE----jails cost $$ & the teen doesn't become a producing member...
SOOOO it would behoove the Augusta leaders to FIND decent paying jobs for south Augusta...Find tech schools that work for youngsters...& also the black leaders need to step up to the plate & DEMAND the parents put their resources in the right direction for their kids...

allhans
21960
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allhans 09/27/11 - 11:27 am
0
0

I don't know why Regency Mall

I don't know why Regency Mall keeps getting into the conversation. The city/county doesn't own and never has owned Regency Mall. Attempts have been made to purchase it but the owners wanted to stick it to the taxpayers. Forget that location. It is privately owned and not worth the headaches it causes some people or the purchase price owners keep asking..

rmwhitley
5083
Points
rmwhitley 09/27/11 - 11:50 am
0
0

Democrats keep the poor on

Unpublished

Democrats keep the poor on welfare. How else can they offer them 250 minutes of free cell phone usage, welfare for unwed mothers, drug addicts, robbers, murderers, no drug testing for recieving the public dole, illegal aliens sucking the life out of our emergency rooms, pelosi, reid, schumer, jackson and sharpton living in palaces. Those no good Republicans and conservatives wanting some form of accountability. How dare them?

Willow Bailey
20252
Points
Willow Bailey 09/27/11 - 12:42 pm
1
0

If Regency Mall is truly

If Regency Mall is truly blight on Richmond County, and the politicians must have their way and purchase it, hopefully, they will have the good sense at least to apply the laws of eminent domain and pay a reasonable price for this market. The site would make an excellent prison, mental health facility or alternative school.

allhans
21960
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allhans 09/27/11 - 02:45 pm
1
0

Can the county afford any

Can the county afford any large purchase?
Perhaps some day, but that day is not now.

countyman
16838
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countyman 09/27/11 - 01:20 pm
0
1

OpenCurtain... The ranking

OpenCurtain... The ranking had nothing to do with the percentage of residents living in poverty throughout South Augusta.. It's based on the suburban counties of Augusta. Columbia, Aiken, Burke, Edgefield, and Mcduffie...

Since Augusta consolidated with Richmond County, the census refers to all of Richmond County as a city(minus Hephzibah and Blythe)..

The Brookings suburban poverty rate(Aiken, Burke, Columbia, Edgefield, Mcduffie) and metro poverty rate(Richmond, Columbia, Aiken, Burke, Edgefield, Mcduffie) for the top 100 largest metros are diffrent..

IwannaKno.. The city of Augusta and Richmond County are the largest in population.. The majority of jobs, industry, higher education, events/festivals, shopping, etc are located in Richmond County.. The major airport in the area is located there.. I can't understand how the suburban counties wouldn't want to work with the main county.

Riverman.. There are additional vacant properties around the county, but they don't compare in size to Regency Mall..

Little Lamb
40212
Points
Little Lamb 09/27/11 - 01:26 pm
0
0

I'm wondering what the

I'm wondering what the purpose of this "top ten suburban poverty list" is? What is it useful for? So they estimate the number of people living below the federal "poverty line" in Aiken, Burke, Columbia, Edgefield, and McDuffie counties, then convert that to a percentage, and then average the five counties. The magic average is 16.9% of those counties are below the poverty line. Now we must presume that the percentage of those below the poverty line in Richmond County is higher than that. What does one do with this important knowledge?

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 09/27/11 - 01:27 pm
0
0

hey need to cut off benefits

hey need to cut off benefits after 26 weeks. If you get unemployment payments indefinitely plus the food stamps plus the charitable food pantries, you have less incentive to go back to work.

LittleLamb, apparently you have never been on the bottom; I agree that "career unemployment" is not the answer, it is very necessary as irregardless of popular belief, not all of those collecting unemployment enjoy being there. And as for multiple layers of gov'mint freebies, I was on unemployment for 2.5 years, and was told my wife and I had too much income for food stamps; even now on Social Security Disability ( two heart attacks and a stroke will not allow me to work), I am told that we finally qualify for food stamp assistance......$26.00 per month. Yes, I do agree that "slackers" need to be cut from the system, but we as a country simply cannot allow everyone to be eliminated from the system. The system is certainly in need of repair, but it is truly helping some, who without it could not survive.

I am glad the VA did not have your attitude when I had a major heart attack 3 years ago (5 bypasses); I would not be writing this now, my widow would.................

BevBoudreaux
0
Points
BevBoudreaux 09/27/11 - 01:29 pm
0
0

What is the deal with Regency

What is the deal with Regency Mall? You all do realize that the owners want $50 million for their property don't you? It would be foolish to pay that kind of money for that property or anything above the tax assessed value, which is less than a tenth of what the owners want for it. Bottom line is, they don't want to sell for whatever reason. Now if they are in viokation of some building code, then enforce those codes.. but cionsistently, don't single them out and ignore other violators. Look at how many slumlords get away with stuff in Harrisburg all of the time. Where's the outrage over that? By the way I seriously don't think Regency Mall is the root of the poverty problem in south Augusta, it is merely one of many symptoms. So bottomline, if you are tored of looking at Regency Mall, then get a group of investors together and buy it and do something with it.

countyman
16838
Points
countyman 09/27/11 - 01:49 pm
0
0

Conure... The ranking is

Conure... The ranking is based on the 100 largest metro areas.. It's not really the 9th highest suburban poverty rate in the entire nation..

Also, the 57.8% population change in suburban poor from 2000-2010 is nothing compared to the 124% in Orlando, Atlanta 121.8%, Charlotte 93.9%, Orlando 84.9%, Greensboro 84%, Nashville 81.4%, Tampa 78.9%, Raleigh 75.8%, Columbia 70.3%, Louisville 69.7%, Chattanooga 69.2%..

countyman
16838
Points
countyman 09/27/11 - 03:22 pm
0
0

The poverty rate in the CSRA

The poverty rate in the CSRA didn't increased by 57.8% from 2000-2010. The CSRA is a total of 18 counties in GA and SC..

The 57.8% is the suburban poor population(Columbia, Aiken, Burke, Edgefield, Mcduffie) change from 2000-2010(i.e low to middle income families)...

The poverty rate in the metro(Richmond, Aiken, Columbia, Mcduffie, Edgefield, Burke) increased by 2.3% from 2000-2009.

The suburban poverty rate(Aiken, Columbia, Mcduffie, Edgefield, Burke) increased by 2.5%

The city(Augusta/RC minus city limits of Hephzibah and Blythe) increased by 2.5%

It's not okay to be pathetic, but it's important to realize the positive too.

Dipshot
-5
Points
Dipshot 09/27/11 - 03:22 pm
0
0

OK.. we know there are 8

OK.. we know there are 8 other cities with more poverty than Augusta.. so is that something to cheer about? Augusta is in the top 10 POOREST suburban areas in the country.. and that means the situation is even worse for the urban areas of Augusta. Augusta has the highest poverty rate of any city in Georgia over 100,000 people. We can all bury our heads in the sand like countyman all we want to, but the job outlook will only get worse in the Augusta area in the coming years. Even the jobs coming to Aiken won't be able to offset the massive job losses looming in the government sector in Augusta. The 150 layoffs at GHSU is just the tip of the iceberg. The chickens are coming home to roost for government dependent Augusta. I'd love to believe countyman's sunchine and lollipops philosophy, but I live in reality.

Sean Moores
100
Points
Sean Moores 09/27/11 - 03:26 pm
0
0

Conure, check your email.

Conure, check your email.

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