Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Poverty in Lawrence families ranks above state average

Factoring in KU students raises city’s level to nearly 25 percent

August 29, 2007


Lawrence's poverty rate is above the state average, even when the impact of Kansas University students is largely factored out, according to a Census Bureau report released Tuesday.

Lawrence's poverty rate in 2006 was 12.5 percent for families, and 15.9 percent for families with children, according to the Census Bureau. The corresponding statewide averages were 8.6 percent and 13.8 percent.

"It doesn't surprise me," said Paul Hunt, director of human service programs for the Ballard Community Center. "We're seeing large numbers of people who are needing help for a number of different things."

Hunt said he doesn't rely on a census report, however, to assess the need. Instead, he keeps an eye on the agency's food pantry. Hunt said the pantry is stocked to provide food for 55 people. Recently it has been taking less than a week to deplete the pantry of all its supplies. Hunt also said calls for rental assistance have been brisk. He received seven on Monday and five on Tuesday.

According to the report, Lawrence's poverty rate falls in the middle of the six largest cities in Kansas. The report provided data for only communities of 65,000 people or greater.

Kansas City, Kan., had the highest poverty rates at 15.1 percent for all families and 23.5 percent for families with children. Topeka checked in at 13.1 percent and 22.1 percent, while Wichita was at 12.6 percent and 18.9 percent.

Then there are the two Johnson County communities. They are in sharp contrast with other large Kansas cities.

Olathe had an overall family poverty rate of 2.9 percent and 4.5 percent for families with children. Overland Park was nearly the same at 3 percent and 4.2 percent.

Lawrence's poverty picture looks much bleaker if you look at the overall poverty rate for all individuals in the community, which includes student households that may be earning little. When everyone is factored into the equation, Lawrence had a poverty rate of 24.1 percent. That was the highest poverty rate of all the communities surveyed in the state.

Hunt said although Lawrence's poverty rates are discouraging, the positive aspect is that the community recognizes it has residents in need.

"We have a lot of poverty, but we do have a lot of resources to help people out of poverty," Hunt said. "The upside of all this is that Lawrence is a community that cares about its neighbors."

The census report is considered to be the most accurate measure of poverty rates for communities, but it does have limitations. Because the Census has adopted a new reporting procedure, it says the 2006 results should not be compared with past results to determine whether poverty rates have gone up or down.


Sigmund 10 years, 10 months ago

"Lawrence's poverty rate is above the state average, even when the impact of Kansas University students is largely factored out," OK, I have to wonder, I wonder where Lawrence would rank if the impact of Kansas University was COMPLETELY factored out. New taxes (sales and real estate) will make the situation worse not better.

warthog 10 years, 10 months ago

Well, that's it then; it's settled. All the poor people need to move out of Lawrence. They're bringing the city down. First thing you know, they'll be shopping at the new Walmart.

Seriously, I don't see how people on low incomes survive in Lawrence. Housing is high; wages are low. Even on a median income, it's not that easy. Factor in a few kids, and it's got to be tough.

Bill Chapman 10 years, 10 months ago

There was an old political cartoon during Regans' second term - it had two obviously well too do stockbroker types at a fast food counter talking about the rise in jobs. In the next frame, the person at the counter responds - "I know, I have three of them so I can pay my rent!"

That is how many people survive in Lawrence - they have more than one job! But that doesn't really help much after they pay state and federal taxes.

Kookamooka 10 years, 9 months ago

Bowhunter says..."Oh yeah:. We surely do not want to be like Olathe and Overland Park: Big Ugly towns full of evil and big boxes:. Noone wants to live there: Perhaps it's because of the low poverty rate, low unemployment, large number of employers, large growth, low taxes, etc:."

Money magazine voted Overland Park one of their top 10 cities. The facts that the average salary (and this blew my mind) was close to 100,000 and that the housing market was affordable (by National standards) put OP near the top of the list.

monkeyspunk 10 years, 10 months ago

Wow...I count atleast two spellling errors in that post, time to go and get some coffee in the kitchen at my evil local government job. More coffee...

monkeyspunk 10 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

toefungus 10 years, 10 months ago

The city commission will continue to look the other way, but the sales tax increase will hit our poor very hard. I have lived in Kansas all of my life. Economic opportunities which drives job growth, has always been very limited. Population growth has been poor. I made a poor decision to stay here.

Bubbles 10 years, 10 months ago

Liberal towns always have more dead beats.

deec 10 years, 10 months ago

Most posters here agree that housing costs are generally high, and wages are generally low. How, then, do you make the leap that, therefore, the poverty level is high because of the homeless and "deadbeats"? Apparently having too little money has nothing to do with high living costs and low wages.

frank regnier 10 years, 10 months ago

If sales tax and real estate in Lawrence continue to rise, I will be forced to move like many others have already done. Raising taxes is not only affecting the lower income levels but also the low end of the middle income, pushing them closer to the poverty line. Maybe it is time to take another look at how our current taxes are being mis-spent. Also, I have witnessed where several houses of identical size, floor plan, yards, etc. are assessed and the home that is kept up and maintained has a higher tax rate. How is this fair? Maybe, I shouldn't cut my grass and paint my house and let it deteriorate so I won't be taxed more also? Thanks Lawrence for showing me that it is going to cost me more if I try to maintain my home to look respectable. For those who don't believe this, go to the following website and type in your address and another comparable home on your block and see the difference in real estate appraisals.
Most homeowners have taken out home loans to fix their homes up and are now being penalized for doing so. By the way, I live in east Lawrence in a 40 year home under $100,000 and I think many of you will be surprised at what your neighbor's home is appraised at by our city.

Confrontation 10 years, 10 months ago

You get very little in return for what you pay to live in Lawrence.

zbarf 10 years, 10 months ago

There are those who truly struggle each day to even find something to eat, the term "poverty" as used by the liberals has become distorted, and it's important to cut through the rhetoric and get to the facts. The Heritage Foundation has put together an excellent paper called How Poor Are America's Poor? Examining the "Plague" of Poverty in America. As author Robert E. Rector notes: To understand poverty in America, it is important to look behind these numbers-to look at the actual living conditions of the individuals the government deems to be poor. For most Americans, the word "poverty" suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter. But only a small number of the 37 million persons classified as "poor" by the Census Bureau fit that description. While real material hardship certainly does occur, it is limited in scope and severity. Most of America's "poor" live in material conditions that would be judged as comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago. Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest-income one-fifth (or quintile) of houseÂholds equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation. The problem is that the Democrats have used an "us versus them" tactic for so long and liberals talk about the plight of the "poor" in such a way that the truth gets distorted. Here are some interesting facts the Heritage Foundation points out about people the Democrats and government label as "poor": -- Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio. -- Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning. -- Only 6 percent of poor households are overÂcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person. -- The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.) -- Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars. -- Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions. -- Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception. -- Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher. Despite the fact that "poor" doesn't necessarily mean "impoverished" as we think about it, and despite the fact that the poverty rate has actually gone down, the Democrats are still speaking gloom and doom.

hereinnm 10 years, 10 months ago

ok here it goes i live in new mexico and have for the past 6 yrs. im from good ole all complain about the high cost of living. and having to have 3 jobs. you got it all wrong. the apartments and houses there are very affordalbe. for a 2 bedroom apt in the gettto down here i pay 600 and all my utilites. and by the getto i mean daily shootings. the police wont even come into this part of town. a 15 yr old boy got shot a couple days ago next door to me we called the police they told us to transport him to the circle k 5 blocks away and they would meet us there. the local goverment says you have to pay your workers at the rate of $7.50 an hour but you still need at least 2 jobs. never mind the cost of food. you cant buy a house for less then 100,000 here and thats the trashed ones. i have looked at the rental rates there and know that its not as expensive there as it is here. you also complain about the they sleep on the street corners and rob, rape, and kill people for a $ for the bus fare its not half as bad there as it is least you have places there to help down here its the therory every man for himself. they dont help with rent or food nothing. so its not that bad there try living in new mexico

Godot 10 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence is the most socialist-leaning, progressive town in Kansas. Of course it would have the highest poverty rate.

Kodiac 10 years, 10 months ago


You know what's even more odd, a city commission that has been and continues to be dominated by a conservative bastion of greed, gluttony, and authoritarianism.

Having trouble finding it FU, I find that it always helps to pull your head out first.

Kodiac 10 years, 10 months ago


So by using the same inane analysis, Witchita, which is considered to be one of the most conservative cities in the United States, of course would have a higher proverty rate than Lawrence?????

kugrad 10 years, 10 months ago

zbarf writes; "Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest-income one-fifth (or quintile) of houseÂholds equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation."
What the ultra-conservative heritage foundation forgot to mention is that it takes two wage earners now to earn the median American household income of the early 70's NOT adjusted for inflation. In other words. This has been true now for close to a decade at least. It takes 2 wage earners for a household to earn the average (not inflation adjusted) household income of 1977. Also, when adjusting for inflation many choices must be made. If one averages inflation across sectors (housing costs, food, gas, clothes, utilties, discretionary items) one might get a rate of inflation that is lower (or higher) than the rate in any one of those sectors alone. This matters because it is not valid to compare expediture rates across decades unless the ratio of expenditures in each sector is the same. For example, If the price of housing, gasoline, clothes and utilities go up signficantly, per-person expenditures could appear to rise when the actual quality of life is declining. Defining poverty soley in monetary terms is like defining what it is to be an American soley in geographic terms. It misses the big picture.

situveux1 10 years, 10 months ago

I wonder what will happen to the percentage of poor when the new sales tax is passed?

monkeyhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

"My grandmother was poor. It meant she had no toilet.

People are poor now, and they have DirecTV.

Poor now does not equal poor in 1939."

The helpers want the have nots to have everything the haves have. That is the goal of liberal democrats.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.