Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

May 18, 2014

Poverty in the Lock City

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The bad news for Lockport, however, is that almost 6,000 residents live on incomes below the federal poverty level, while an additional 6,800 residents live on incomes close to the poverty level. All together, around 12,800 people are struggling financially in the town and city, which is one-in-three residents, or 32 percent of the roughly 41,700 people living in Lockport. 

The report is one of 12 focused on municipalities in Niagara and Erie counties released by the Oishei Foundation in conjunction with UBRI. The foundation’s Mobile Safety-Net Team works on the ground in each town or city, gathering data and information for the reports, while researchers from UBRI analyze the data, pore over a variety of census data and put the report together. 

Lockport was the first report the partnership released, said Mobile Safety-Net Team Supervisor and Lockport native Jeffrey Pirrone. Reports have also been released on Newfane and Niagara Falls.

Two Lockports

According to Pirrone, the report is the “tale of two Lockports.” 

“There really are two Lockports,” he said. “It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for some of the need in some of the areas. Once you dig into it, you see that it’s there, and it’s really impacting a great many things in the community.”

Working at the Salvation Army on Cottage Street, Major John Wheeler is on the front lines of the poverty problem every day. The people who come to the Salvation Army for assistance are the “invisible Lockport,” he said.  

During the course of reporting this story, the Union Sun & Journal had difficulty finding residents willing to discuss their financial situations, which didn’t surprise Wheeler. People in poverty like to put up the facade that everything is OK, he said. That’s why people buy Nikes and Levis for their children when there’s no food in the house. 

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