Poverty is on the rise in Steuben County


Poverty is on the rise in Steuben County.  Last year one in seven Americans lived in poverty.  According to the Federal Government, this is the highest number since it began keeping records 51 years ago.

In Steuben County 13.5 percent of the population or 13,000 people are living below the Federal poverty guidelines.

            It is estimated that 30 percent of the population or 30,000 people in Steuben County are living in households that only earn up to twice the poverty guidelines.

            Children are the most vulnerable and make up the highest segment of the population living in poverty.  One in five children in Steuben County is living in poverty.

            Nearly 50 percent of students in Steuben County are eligible for free or reduced fee meals in school based on family income.

            50 percent of the families living in poverty in Steuben County are headed by a single female.

            Food Stamp applications increased 35 percent from 2008 to 2010 in Steuben County.  Although nearly 12,000 people use food stamps, this number represents only half of those who are eligible.

            Prior to the recession, 69 percent of the people Catholic Charities served worked either part-time or full-time jobs that did not pay a living wage.  In 2010, only 39 percent of served individuals had a job.  The average household income was $10,000 in 2008 and dropped to $8,500 in 2010.

            Homelessness and housing emergencies are also on the rise in Steuben County. Evictions are up 35 percent in the last two years.  Requests for housing assistance increased 42 percent in 2010 compared to 2008.  A minimum wage earner needs to work 61 hours a week in order to afford a two bedroom apartment.  And, 59 percent of minimum wage earners spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing.

The majority of our community members who are poor are poverty stricken based on circumstance or decisions over which they had no control.  The recent recession is a prime example. 

At Catholic Charities we embrace the challenge of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, providing medicine for the sick and warming families against the cold winter weather.  Every year we help thousands of our friends and neighbors in Steuben County who are struggling to meet the daily challenges of hunger, housing, heating and healthcare.

We are proud of the significant numbers of households we’ve helped attain self- sufficiency through financial counseling, mentoring, case management and referrals to fellow, non-profit partners in our community.  

And now, there’s a way you may assist, too.

On September 10th, Catholic Charities will hold its third annual Walk A Mile In Their Shoes in Bath, Corning and Hornell.  There are two goals for this event.  The first is to raise awareness and understanding of poverty in Steuben County.  The second is to raise funds to not only help the neediest in our community but to assist the growing number of working poor. 

Catholic Charities will keep all Walk A Mile donations in Steuben County.

There are multiple ways to participate:  you can walk, you can be a captain, you can sponsor a walker, or you can donate.  Learn more at our website www.catholiccharities.org.

You never know how much a person has suffered until you’ve walked a mile in his or her shoes.



                                                                                       Laura Opelt

                                                                                    Executive Director 

                                                                                    Catholic Charities Steuben