Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

May 18, 2014

Poverty in the Lock City


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — “The poverty is hidden,” he said. “The kids may be sleeping on the floor because they can’t afford a bed, but in public, they look good.”

A lot of people who are affected by poverty in Lockport don’t believe they’re actually in poverty, said Chris Smith, program coordinator for the Grigg Lewis Foundation Inc., which — among other things — helps to set-up and fund initiatives aimed at getting residents of Niagara County out of poverty. 

Lockport statistics

Several areas stand out in the report. 

• Forty-seven percent of single mothers in Lockport are living in poverty, while 32 percent of single father households are.

• Twenty-two percent of the population of Lockport under 18 is living in poverty.

• There are nearly 40 public and private service providers operating in Lockport, with over 2,700 employees.

• Around 1,720 households operate without a vehicle. Getting to either Buffalo or Niagara Falls by bus can take anywhere from an hour to three hours, depending on the time of day.

•  Nearly 2,300 residents who are in or near poverty are new to Lockport. 

• Forty-one percent of residents living in poverty are centered around the city’s core, while 22 percent live in the town. 

Instilling Hope

While the poverty issue isn’t as bad in Lockport as other towns and cities in the area, Wheeler said, there are serious issues, like the “mindset of poverty.” 

“We’ve been at this war on poverty or over 50 years,” he said. “The average person would say we’re losing.”

According to Wheeler, the way we’ve been dealing with poverty has created an attitude that if people want something, they either “steal it or ask for it.”

“We need to change the mindset,” he said. “That’s what keeps people in poverty, and that’s what their kids are growing up with. It’s horrible.”

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