This afternoon, we released our 25th annual State of Poverty in Ohio Report during a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse. This report has certainly grown over the past 25 years, transitioning from a joint project with our Cleveland agency to now partnering with Thoughtwell (formerly Community Research Partners) to review and analyze data surrounding poverty in our state. This report not only looks at the big picture trends across the state, it also includes county level data to provide specific information for different areas in Ohio. Ohio is unique with varying factors contributing to poverty and self-sufficiency. We are proud to include both types of data in this comprehensive report every year.

During the press conference, I highlighted many things: the importance of accurate poverty measurement, the impacts of opioids on our state and low-income families, the cost burden of childcare and higher education, payday lending reform, and more. You can read my full testimony, or watch it on Facebook. If we intend to reduce real poverty, we need to focus on core issues that matter.

Transportation: People need to be able to get to the work and job training if they are to increase their income.
Education: People need to have access to quality primary and higher education. And, that higher education needs to be affordable.
Childcare: It needs to be affordable.
Healthcare: People need to be healthy to work.

If Ohioans are expected go to work, they must have a way to get there. Public transportation is not always an option– especially in rural areas– and transportation is a vital component to increasing household income and overcoming poverty. Higher education is also a factor that has been proven to increase income. Education has to be affordable for Ohioans who desire to get that degree and seek out new opportunities. Just as vital is keeping childcare affordable. A married couple living at the poverty line can expect to pay 73% of their income for quality center-based childcare. Adding basic needs like food and housing pushes them beyond their means. Together, necessities total around 133% of their budget.

The opioid epidemic is a healthcare crisis, and Ohio is the second hardest hit state in the union. The epidemic has worked its way through all parts of our society including low-, middle- and upper-income households, but it has hit low-income areas the hardest. Ohio’s General Assembly and Congress must commit to intervening to save lives and save our state.

As a state, we often get caught up in efforts to punish the poor by reducing aide for college, imposing work requirements as if to say people aren’t already working or don’t want to work, and more. We must cease adding to the struggles and start treating people fairly. We can no longer ignore the fundamental needs of our communities. Doing so only compounds the issues.

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