Tampa Bay Leaders Celebrate City’s Drop in Poverty Rate
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 10/11/2017, 9:31 a.m.
African-American leaders in Tampa Bay on Tuesday celebrated new data they say showed the city-wide poverty rate among African-American residents fell to an all-time low last year, reports the Tampa Bay Times. The 2016 figures released in September by the U.S. Census Bureau put the Black poverty rate in St. Petersburg at 17.6 percent last year. That meant about 10,000 Black residents were below the poverty line, down from a rate of 34.9 percent, or about 20,000 people, in 2014, the high mark over the last 16 years. And down from 26.4 percent in 2015. “We've got a lot of work to do still, but the indicators are at least moving in the right direction — and that's a good thing," said Mayor Rick Kriseman, who attended a news conference and dinner celebration at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in Midtown. Kriseman and community leaders attributed the improvement to three factors: a rebounding local job market, a surge in college and technical school enrollment and an increase in the number of poverty-reduction programs through the city's 2020 Plan — a five-year initiative to reduce poverty by 30 percent in certain areas of south St. Petersburg by 2020. The 2020 Plan has elevated 1,100 people above the poverty line, leaders said, and assisted another 800 low-income residents. “While trends are important,” Kriseman said, “the takeaway is this: real people are being lifted out of poverty.”