WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- A new report shows one-third of the children in Winston-Salem live in poverty, with higher numbers than places like Chicago, Pittsburgh and Dallas. Winston-Salem ranks 20th in the nation for highest child poverty rates in the newest census numbers reported by the Triad Business Journal.
- Winston-Salem ranks 20th in the nation for highest child poverty rates.
- Winston-Salem has higher numbers than places like Chicago, Pittsburgh and Dallas.
- The report ranks Fayetteville at 39, Greensboro at 50, Charlotte at 88 and Raleigh at 91.
Neighbors like Morticia Parmon, who live in the Northeast ward, are not shocked to hear the ranking.
"It's depressing and it's discouraging when you have to sit at home and you look at your paycheck, and you say, 'do I buy a meal or do I pay the light bill?’” Parmon said. "It doesn't surprise me at all considering the fact that we live in a city and a county where we're still segregated. It's not against black and white. It's not against Hispanics and African-Americans. It's against the haves and have-nots."
The president of the Easton Neighborhood Association, Robert Leak III, says he sees the poverty right in his backyard. Many of his neighbors are on federal housing vouchers.
"70 percent of residents in our [neighborhood] are families that do not have the appropriate income to support their household and their children," he said.
Both Parmon and Leak believe lowering the poverty rate starts with city and county leaders. Leak suggests funding more programs that support lower-income families. like T.U.R.N., which provides tutoring and enrichment services for children.
"T.U.R.N. is the acronym Through Unity, Reformation is Inevitable,” said T.U.R.N. executive director Carrie Woods. "This year, we decided to implement supper and a snack because children were asking for more and more snacks. 'Can I have two, can I get another one?"
Woods says while local schools offer breakfast and lunch, any child under 18 can go to T.U.R.N. to get supper.
"I find that when they get here, they're starving and children have stated that they won't eat afterwards,” Woods said.
She says poverty leads to food insecurities, which leads to lower grades in school, which leads to a new generation of low-income households.
"Because they can't think! When they come in here and we try to help with homework or do tutoring. If they're hungry, they're not going to be as productive as they could be," she said.
She says it's a vicious cycle needs to be broken. The report ranks Fayetteville at 39, Greensboro at 50, Charlotte and 88 and Raleigh at 91.
The City of Winston-Salem told Spectrum News it is obviously concerned about the issue of poverty in the city. It is expected to name someone in the coming weeks to head up a recently adopted poverty reduction initiative, to which leaders say the city is remaining committed.