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Officials respond to Syracuse ranking of highest concentration of minorities in poverty

The Century Foundation

A new report finds that Syracuse has the highest concentration of blacks and Hispanics in poverty in the country. Officials said they are disturbed by the findings and said that policies need to change to reverse the trends.

The report by The Century Foundation finds that 65 percent of poor blacks and 62 percent of poor Hispanics in poverty are concentrated in the highest-poverty neighborhoods in the city of Syracuse.   

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner notes that Rochester and Buffalo were also in the top ten cities from that report.

“There have been policies put into place and practices and we’re seeing the outcome of that," Miner said. "It’s unacceptable when almost two-thirds of the children of color born in upstate New York are born into poverty. What's even more disturbing about that is that we see from the statistical analysis that if you're born into poverty the chances are that you're going to die in poverty. We have to turn that around and make sure we end the policies that do that either deliberately or unintentionally.”

The report says that a leading factor to concentrated poverty has been massive and rapid growth of suburban development. Populations within the cities declines and taxpayers fund the new suburban infrastructure being created while existing downtown infrastructure is abandoned or underutilized.

While Syracuse is seeing a number of new renovation and construction projects, Syracuse Common Councilor Helen Hudson said developers in the city can do more to address this problem.

“When you bring these jobs into the city at least give some of the lower-income people or the lower-middle class, an opportunity to be able to work at these jobs," Hudson said. "They have been selective, they have been non-inclusive and it has been by design. You don’t offer these people the opportunity. They’re across the street watching you build their neighborhood. How does that work? It doesn’t work. That’s why we have what we have.”

The report finds that the number of people living in high-poverty neighborhoods across the country has nearly doubled since the year 2000. Poverty rates of 40 percent or higher can be seen spreading from 12 to 29 neighborhoods across Syracuse over that same time period.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.