Growing Poverty Alarms Service Providers; Even as Pittsburgh Neighborhoods Such as Downtown, Lawrenceville and East Liberty Flourish, More and More People in Western Pennsylvania Are Not Making Enough Money to Meet Basic Needs. [Derived Headline]

By Lindstrom, Natasha | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 15, 2015 | Go to article overview

Growing Poverty Alarms Service Providers; Even as Pittsburgh Neighborhoods Such as Downtown, Lawrenceville and East Liberty Flourish, More and More People in Western Pennsylvania Are Not Making Enough Money to Meet Basic Needs. [Derived Headline]


Lindstrom, Natasha, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Even as Pittsburgh neighborhoods such as Downtown, Lawrenceville and East Liberty flourish, more and more people in Western Pennsylvania are not making enough money to meet basic needs.

Low-income households in greater Pittsburgh are on the rise, and data show "remarkable increases" of poverty in Beaver and Westmoreland counties, Michael Yonas, senior program officer for The Pittsburgh Foundation, told nonprofit representatives and regional power brokers Thursday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.

The trend is alarming human-service providers partly because most government and nonprofit social service hubs center on urban areas, said Maxwell King, president of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

"Poverty is moving out there where the services aren't," he said. "That's going to be a big problem for us."

King and United Way of Allegheny County President Robert Nelkin flanked a four-member panel on "People Living (and working) in Poverty in Southwestern Pennsylvania" at the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership's summit, which drew about 1,200 nonprofit, business and public-sector representatives.

The annual event featured sessions ranging from a discussion between city police Chief Cameron McLay and faith-based leaders on improving relations between communities and police to local entrepreneurs explaining how innovative business models can solve social and environmental problems.

"Many more people are vulnerable than ever before," Nelkin said. "We need to respond to that. I really believe we've got to find some answers that apply broadly across the state."

Nonprofit leaders should work with legislators to tackle the problem on the policy front, panelists said. They suggested changes such as raising the minimum wage, improving job opportunities for the disabled, reforming sentencing for nonviolent crimes and ensuring poor children automatically qualify for government aid.

In greater Pittsburgh, covering Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties, an estimated 12.3 percent of households -- and 17.6 percent of children -- lived in poverty in 2012, up from 10. …

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