Friday, September 21, 2012

Reading is no longer the poorest city in the country. We have moved to number six (when you're at the bottom you can only move up or start digging and since there are no shovel ready jobs. . .)

That said, just like everywhere else, we have serious problems. I drove past the food pantry in Exeter today and the lines are still a block long all afternoon outside the building waiting their turn, as well as those inside already.

And at least one young person who wanted to help. . .

Reading Eagle: 

Missing Reiffton girl, 9, found hiding under bushes

A 9-year-old Exeter Township girl went missing early Thursday, prompting a three-hour search by police, firefighters and friends and relatives before she was found hiding under bushes in her Reiffton neighborhood.

The girl's parents called 9-1-1 shortly after 12:30 a.m. after they discovered her missing from their home in the 3800 block of Reiff Street, police said.

She had taken her pillow, winter coat, blanket and a backpack with food in it.

She was found sleeping under a neighbor's shrubs by members of the search party about 3:30, police said. She was unharmed.

The girl, who attends St. Catharine of Siena School in Mount Penn, told her parents that she wanted to go feed the poor, Exeter Police Chief Christopher L. Neidert said.

"One of the things students are taught in Catholic schools is that you take care of the poor, so maybe she heard the spirit calling, I don't know," Neidert said.

The girl's parents heard someone leave the house but when they went downstairs to investigate, their 9-year-old was nowhere in sight. The family searched on their own along with some friends before calling police.

Exeter police were assisted by Central Berks Regional police, Exeter firefighters and fire police, and a state police helicopter unit equipped with a thermal imaging camera.

Reading Eagle:

Officials see little consolation in new Reading poverty ranking
Call city's new poverty ranking better, but ...
Jason Brudereck see more articles by Jason Brudereck
Reading Eagle

It's somewhat of a relief that Reading is no longer ranked as the most impoverished city in the nation, but it's not much of one, Berks County and city officials said Thursday.

"The reality is, we still face major, major challenges," Councilwoman Donna Reed said.

With 40.1 percent of its residents in poverty, Reading is now the sixth most impoverished among cities with populations of 65,000 or more, according to new rankings published Thursday in the Reading Eagle that were based on an analysis of updated U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

Camden, N.J., now has the highest poverty rate: 42.5 percent. Reading's poverty rate in last year's rankings was 41.3 percent.

"It's good not to be ranked No. 1, but being No. 6 is not much better," county Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt said. "It's an ever-so-slight encouragement."

"The ranking change is minimal and where we rank nationally doesn't make a whole lot of difference to the people who are in poverty in the city of Reading," said commissioners Chairman Christian Y. Leinbach.

As has been happening, nonprofits, churches and other groups in Berks must continue to identify causes of poverty, which go beyond recent economic problems, Leinbach said.

"Reading has had these problems long before the 2007-2008 recession came into play," he said. "This isn't something a mayor or a council can just resolve and fix."

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said there is no victory in moving from first to sixth.

"We know that a large number of families in Reading continue to struggle in this economy, and we still have a lot of work to do to move Reading forward," he said. "My administration is working hard to bring sustainable wage jobs to the city and hope to break ground soon on some new development projects. We have to continue the progress we have made working together as a community. "

Leinbach said some of Reading's poor, but not a majority, are impoverished due to poor choices they made or because being poor is the lot that was handed to them by previous generations.

Several officials said being a single mother and the absence of fathers greatly increases the likelihood of being in poverty.

The amount of Reading's single mothers in poverty increased from 66.3 percent to 69.1 percent, according to the new statistics.

But there are other wide-ranging causes, such as housing policies and other factors that concentrate the poor into small urban areas, Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz said.

That results in decreased tax revenues, which then overburdens urban school districts, which then can't do as good of a job educating students, she said.

A lack of education then translates into more poverty, she said.

"It's going to take a slow, steady effort," Barnhardt said.


Pastorius said...

Congratulations on the success, Reading. Wow.

midnight rider said...


What kind of success is it if nationally the highest city poverty rate was 41.3 last year and this year the highest is 42.5%? Seem to be moving in the wrong direction to me.

As for the story of the nine year old, that happened about 5 blocks from my house.

Ciccio said...

Success? There has been no decrease in poverty, it is just that five other places are even poorer. Might as well celebrate in Zimbabwe for having the world's highest number of billionaires.