Sunday, October 18, 2009


The poverty rate in Ulster County has jumped significantly in the last year, from just under 11% to well over 12%. In New York State, 13.6% of us earned less last year than the federal poverty level, currently defined as $10,830 for an individual, $14,570 for a couple and $22,050 for a family of four. Hard to fathom isn't it? I mean, you are earning enough to have Internet service, so you might not grasp what poverty is.

In neighboring counties such as Sullivan: the rate jumped from under 14% to over 17%. Orange County decreased the level from 10.5% t
o about 9%. [Lucky them] The financial collapse in Newburgh will probably send that right back up by next spring.

The formula that helps distinguish what we call poverty is based on the cost of living in each of the counties listed here. However it doesn't account for families collecting from Social Services and/or collecting unemployment and food stamps to offset their means.

Applications for such services continue to mount throughout the state. The Hudson Valley is no exception. The dependence on food pantries and HEAP stipends is gaining in demand while the working poor struggle in a state that is bleeding manufacturing jobs, quality schooling and affordable housing.

There are over 180,000 people in Ulster County. More than 20,000 are at or under the poverty rate. 6,000 of those are children. The estimated number of uninsured in Ulster County is 26,000. This is just one factor leading to the high rate of low birth-weight in the area. About 8.5%. It's also a key factor in why many firms will not consider our county for relocation.

What does all this mean?? It means the time to invest in the betterment of our community is now. Those who have the task of making spending decisions, such as myself, have to work with other municipalities and the County to decrease spending and focus on the assets we have in Ulster.

People don't want canned answers to these questions. I suggest being clear on our intent on the county level regarding just what we intend to do about it. Commuter rail and solar energy models may be great long term plans [I've supported them here numerous times] But the effort to keep the lower middle class from slipping into the "hard to escape" cycle of poverty should be the same level of concern as keeping the tax increases to a minimum.

On a closing note: I do hope the Governor reconsiders his drastic cuts to housing and higher education for the 2010 budget. Our climb away from these statistics and the resurgence of a strong business community in Kingston and beyond depends on it.


Anonymous said...

There are so many families struggling to make the bills while trying to put food on the table. Poverty comes in many forms. The city of Kingston is crowded with the walking hungry. Many of which utilize the food pantries and meal services in churches and the Queens Galley. If someone wants to volunteer before or after the Queens Galley at 338-3468. There is enough help on the big day. However, they are the only service open for the three days following Thanksgiving. Make the call and make the effort!

Anonymous said...

Thank You for the stats Mike. Could I ask what your source (or sources) is (are)? I'd like to check this out further if I get a chance - as poverty and the societal issues that all-too-often accompany poverty have always been issues of interest (and concern) to me.

I couldn't agree more with the latter:

"Commuter rail and solar energy models may be great long term plans [I've supported them here numerous times] But the effort to keep the lower middle class from slipping into the 'hard to escape' cycle of poverty should be the same level of concern as keeping the tax increases to a minimum" ---

But the two issues (stopping the slippage & keeping taxes down) also seem to be related --- and for those that have the time, money and/or incentive there are apparently (I'm looking into this) some grants and such out there (or coming around?) that are geared towards helping folks and small businesses invest in solar energy - which is (I think) a win-win for all.


Anonymous said...

BTW, remember that saying "you can feed a man to fish, but it is better to teach him how to fish..." ?????

It seems like a lot of organizations in this city need to learn the difference between doing things FOR people (otherwise known as "enabling") and teaching people (those that are able to learn and function) how to do things (another win-win in the long run) for themselves...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. Poverty will always be with us. It is up to us to help the best way we can. We are to give back in more ways then just feeding people. Teaching, listening, and utilizing the skills that we were born with. American is the riches in the world. The families that are struggling are the people right next store. We all have trying times in our life, but its up to us to change it. Kingston has more food pantries and places to get things from then anyother place i have seen.
1. For Food- Queens Galley, Clinton Ave Church
2. For clothes- Peoples Place
3. Cleaning stuff-Pine Grove Ave Church
4. Tooth paste, Soap- Church on Wall street.
5. Family of Kingston- John street
We as a city is doing our job for the down and out! There is alot more out there to

Joe Bubel said...

We will always have the poor, just like we will always have short people. But we don't always have to have hungry people. Feeding and sheltering the poor, is something Christian organizations do very well, and something the government does very POORLY.

Give to local charitable organizations, 99 44/100% of your contribution goes to the needy. Unlike government or commercial organizations. And I like what Nancy says. Teach them how to fish, and they will eat for a life time.

Michele Gilbert said...

Hi, Mike. Found this link about the rights of Americans being taken away in reference to being able to grow there own food.
I thought it was pretty interesting and well, down right scarey. You might want to read it as well...

Anonymous said...

Why is Bubel posting on a progessive website???