published Friday, November 4th, 2011

Poor Chattanooga neighborhoods have more than doubled in 9 years

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Neighborhood Poverty Rates
Neighborhood Poverty Rates
Change in Neighborhood Poverty Rates
Change in Neighborhood Poverty Rates

The number of extremely poor neighborhoods in Chattanooga and the region -- those with poverty rates above 40 percent -- more than doubled from 2000 to 2009, a new report shows.

The number of people living in the poorest census tracts in the Chattanooga region grew by more than 4,200, to 10,535, in the period, according to "The Re-Emergence of Concentrated Poverty," from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

The Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute is a liberal-leaning nonprofit that researches social issues.

"We lost ground against concentrated poverty in the 2000s," Elizabeth Kneebone, a senior research associate at Brookings and lead author of the report, said in a news release. "More people are living in areas that are extremely poor, and concentrated poverty now affects a greater swath of communities than in the past."

In the release, Kneebone noted that the federal poverty level in 2010 was $22,314 annually for a family of four.

In Chattanooga, some of those newly poor people show up at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen on 11th Street.

"Within the last two years we have seen increases in the number of intact families and the first-time homeless," said Jens Christensen, assistant director of the community kitchen. "These are the people who have no idea of how to navigate the services system, people that kind of defy the stereotype of homelessness."

The Brookings report, based on U.S. census figures, states that at least 2.2 million more Americans now live in high-poverty neighborhoods than did in 2000.

In Chattanooga's metropolitan statistical area -- Hamilton, Marion and Sequatchie counties in Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in Georgia -- the number of high-poverty census tracts rose from four to nine. Several neighborhoods, most inside Chattanooga's city limits, saw poverty concentrations grow by 10 percent or more.

All of Dade County and large swaths of Walker, Marion and Sequatchie saw poverty rates rise, and the overall share of the poor population in high-poverty census tracts rose to 14.9 percent in the metro area and 32.2 percent in Chattanooga.

Jobless and homeless

John is one of those newly poor people. In his 50s, with wire-rimmed glasses and a fringe of neatly clipped gray hair around a bald pate, he wears a rust-colored corduroy shirt with a silver Cross pen in the breast pocket as he sits for an interview at the Community Kitchen.

John doesn't want his last name used. He's ashamed to be jobless and homeless. He had a successful career in sales and marketing, but his job went, his savings ran out and he had nowhere to turn.

When he describes signing a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development form certifying that he's living at a rescue mission, John buries his face in his hands for a moment.

Have you ever been in poverty?

"It's the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life," he said, voice thick with tears. "It's very difficult to admit to yourself what you have to write on that form. At no time in my life did I ever believe I would be in this situation."

John said he's been looking for work, but there are fewer jobs than there used to be. Most job ads are on the Internet and applications are answered by email.

"It's kind of hard to sell yourself when they're not actually talking to you," he said.

No surprise

The new numbers from the Brookings Institute don't surprise Rick Mathis, interim CEO/director of research and analysis at the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies in Chattanooga.

An Ochs study last year found a 6 percent decrease in employment in the Chattanooga metro statistical area between 2001 and 2009, Mathis said in an email. He said most people who live in pockets of extreme poverty don't have access to jobs close by or to transportation to job sites such as Volkswagen and Amazon.

"Addressing the extreme poverty in these neighborhoods requires additional planning to improve transportation and to create jobs in areas accessible to these neighborhoods," he said.

And because people with college degrees are more likely to have stable jobs, Mathis said the region should focus on increasing college graduation rates and attracting college graduates to the region.

He said the Ochs Center's 2012 report will have more information on economic and demographic changes, including 2012 census data.

A lesson?

The poverty numbers also didn't surprise a group of Occupy Chattanooga members standing on a street corner outside City Hall, sheltered from drumming rain under a blue tarp.

Daniel Cowgill, 21, a college student, said he's studied business management and trained as a chef but can't get work.

"I can't get a job because I don't have an address. I don't have an address because I can't get a job. There's a problem with that," Cowgill said.

Standing nearby, Joy Day, 54, has a master's degree and had a corporate job until she was laid off in June. She compares the Occupy movement with the progressive forces that took on the 19th-century robber barons, leading to legislation protecting workers and benefiting the whole country, she said.

"We learned that lesson. Now we're having to relearn it," Day said. "I'm not surprised to see that poverty is creeping out of traditional confines to the middle class. Now maybe we can get something done."

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about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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onetinsoldier said...

This is what voting for repugnants has brought you Chattanooga so keep it up and you too can be third world. What it really means is more torches when the time comes.

November 4, 2011 at 12:41 a.m.
Haiku said...

Daniel Cowgill, 21, a college student, said he's studied business management and trained as a chef but can't get work.

"I can't get a job because I don't have an address. I don't have an address because I can't get a job. There's a problem with that," Cowgill said.

America's laws also keeps individuals trapped in poverty. Take the laws that makes it easy to have ones drivers' license suspended: Falling behind in child support, inability to pay a minor court fine. Most jobs aren't on bus lines, and even those that are, buses only run between certain hours. If an individual lose their drivers' license they can't drive to their job in order to pay their fines. If they drive anyway to work and get stopped by police on the way, they're subject to arrest and more fines. In the meantime, they lose their job and can't pay another fine and the cycle continues. They lose, their family lose and slip deeper into poverty becoming a tax burden on society, and society lose.

America should follow Canada's example when it comes to drivers' license. Where the lost of ones' license is a gradual process and not a one size fits every situation situation.

November 4, 2011 at 2:32 a.m.
joneses said...

Onetinsoldier, Get real. Name one thing any Republican did to cause this. Read what I found below if you think the Republicans are in bed with Wall Street. You are being lied to.

Obama's Wall Street cabinet

Based on financial disclosure reports released by the Obama administration last Friday concerning top White House officials, documents the extent to which the administration, in both its personnel and policies, is a political instrument of Wall Street. Policies that are extraordinarily favorable to the financial elite that were put in place over the past month by the Obama administration have fed a surge in share values on Wall Street. These include the scheme to use hundreds

November 4, 2011 at 4:21 a.m.
EaTn said...

On the other side of the coin, have the wealthy neighborhoods more than doubled over the same time period to continue widening the gap?

November 4, 2011 at 6:26 a.m.
twharr said...

joneses, your an absolute idiot. You make some of the most uneducated post on this site. Partisan this - partisan're a joke dude. What college did you graduate from again?

November 4, 2011 at 7:05 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

Jones go to the US Bureau of Census and look at the percent of individuals living in poverty. It declined steadily during the Clinton presidency to the lowest point in the century when he left office;

then when Bush was elected it began to rise again and has not stopped yet due to the 2008 recession caused by Bush the younger's war mongering. When Clinton left office the country was running a SUPLUS. The cost of the wars and tax cuts almost equal the existing national debt. That is laid squarely on Republicans' feet.

November 4, 2011 at 11:36 a.m.
joneses said...

twharr, No one is better off since this fool you call a president took office. He has spent 6 trillion dollars in two years which is the same Bush spent in 8 years. Not that I was happy with Bush but anyone is better than this fool Obama. Do you think this is good for the country? If you believe Hussien Obama is best for the poor then you are a pathetic looser just like the ows people who choose to sleep in their own excrement than get a job. I went to school fool and I do understand basic economics. How can a president spend 6 trillion dollars with most supposedly going to help the poor and the poor are poorer? Are you that stupid moron? Why are you and your fellow dummycrats not talking about what a great job Hussien Obama has done versus always attacking the Republicans. I know why. It is because Hussien Obama is a failure and the morons like you that support him cannot even find something good to say about him. You are a pathetic looser. I love pissing off a dummycrat with facts. I am also ready for the Cain Train as there is nothing that strikes fear in a liberal more than a black republican.

November 4, 2011 at 11:41 a.m.

twharr, What does college have to do with intelligence? I know college grads that couldn't think their way out of OWS. Why are these idiots blaming corporations for having lobbyists when it is the politicians themselves that demand lobbyists and accept the money when it is offered? Should these misguided COLLEGE students be able to make the connection that it is corrupt politicians that not only allow, but demand their influence be bought that are the real problem? (lookup the lobbying status of microsoft before and after the anti-monopoly attack) Shouldn't they be able to figure out that it is hypocritical to yell and scream about rich people having money the whole while demanding they be enriched by that same money?

You would think all of that "education" would grant them the ability to think and reason, but it seems it only grants them the ability to be part of a mob and chant intelligent phrases like "Who's streets? Our streets!" and the classic "You got bailed out, we got sold out". They can't seem to make the connection that the money was doled out by the same politicians that they should be protesting. The banks didn't seize the funds from the fed. They didn't send corporate goons house to house holding people up at gun point. Corrupt politicians bailed the banks out on the people's dime. Politicians are the problem, not the banks and corporations. College doesn't teach that. You already knew that didn't you.... You seem to be college educated.

November 4, 2011 at 12:11 p.m.

One interesting thing about the article, take a look at the majority political leaning of each city and compare that to the poverty rate. Very telling.

Hint, You shouldn't be blaming republicans.

November 4, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.
CharlesMartel said...

This article fails to mention the obvious:

The population in impoverished areas increased due to immigration. Take a drive down Main Street and look at all the Hispanic businesses and people.

This report does not mean what you people think it means, and there is certainly an agenda behind it.

November 4, 2011 at 12:26 p.m.
esanch00 said...

The lack of respect for each other and for our president (whether we agree with his policies or not) is shameful. How can we move ahead as a country when everyday citizens insult each others intelligence, call our president "fool" and cry out religious/ethnic insinuations? It is because people have become so evil that our society continues to spiral in a downward decay.

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" 2 Timothy 3:2

How many comments on this site alone remind us of the verse above?

Poverty is a complicated issue, and it will not be remedied by hatred or pointing fingers of blame.

Luke 12:33. "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys."

November 4, 2011 at 12:43 p.m.
twharr said...

Joneses, show me facts! Send me non-partisan links to back your "opinion" up! I challenge you! "President" Obama, our Commander and Chief, has done and will continue to do what dumb ass Dubya couldn't get done on his's my done and do list:

A. Withdraw our troops out of Iraq.(Coming at the end of this year) B. Withdraw our troops out of Afganistan. (Coming in 2014) C. Make the call to kill Osama Bin Laden. (Check) D. Help our allies defeat Ghadafi and his loyalist without any US casualties. (Check) E. Clandestinely made the call to deport a record number of illegals. (Check) F. Sponsored legislation to reform healthcare. (Check)

I would reference the stimulus plan, but your party has done everything they can to sabatoge any legislation the President has tried to pass. Again, you're a Joke or as JJ from Goodtimes would put it - a Jive Turkey.

November 4, 2011 at 2:01 p.m.
twharr said...

FlyingPurpleSheepleEater, dude your profile name says it all for me. Why even indulge in a debate with you?? Please tell me you're under 30.

November 4, 2011 at 2:03 p.m.
littlebrains said...

community kitchen spokesman says seeing new homeless that dont know "how to navigate the services system" i guess thats unlike the ilk that have been milking the system for years and pass the "secrets" on to the next generation-- well the gravy train has run dry-- maybe you people need to go look for a JOB in case you dont know what one is its where you WORK and get a check after you do it dont come from the government-

November 4, 2011 at 2:32 p.m.

No answers huh? Typical. Is a pitiful attempt at insult through my chosen forum name the best you can do?

"Dude", please tell me you are under 30.

You listed all the things you claim the president has "accomplished" as if they were all the same goals the previous administration had. I didn't like bush myself, but agree with joneses. He was a million times better than Obama. As to his supposed accomplishments: A. Hasn't happened yet. B. He may not be the president in 2014. It hasn't happened yet C. Did you see the angry, sour grapes look on his face when OBL got it? Word on the street is he was pressured into pulling the trigger. HE DIDN'T WANT TO KILL OBL. I still feel betrayed that he gave a *&@# how that terrorist murderer was buried. His body should have gotten the treatment the muslim brotherhood gave that other muslim terrorist Ghadaffi. D. An illegal unsanctioned war perpetrated to give the muslim brotherhood more power. This president consorts with terrorists of every sort. E. B.S. There is no proof of that at all. F. Obamacare in no way reforms healthcare. Obamacare is an attack on health insurance companies and is designed to destroy the insurance industry so that they can take over the business. Plain and simple. Healthcare reform will come later with the death panels, rationing, year long waiting lists and all of the other hallmarks of socialized medicine.

I'm not impressed. Half of the things you say he has accomplished haven't been done yet and the other half can't really be said to have helped the American people at all. Everything I attribute to him has hurt the American people and you don't need studies to see it.

November 4, 2011 at 3:40 p.m.
joneses said...

Thanks flying purple. The only thing I would add is the withdrawal date for the troops to leave iraq was set by President Bush and Hussien Obama agreed to honor that date. As far as Libya. Obama stated last March the United States would play a very limited role and now he wants to claim that he is responsible for the ousting of Omar. That is pathetic as the rebels, Italy, Britain and France played the larger roles than Hussien Obama did or ever wanted to. If president Bush would not have agreed to go into Afganistan, which Hussien Obama voted against as a member of Congress Osama Bin Laden would probably still be alive. The bottom line is this president has spent 6 trillion dollars and has nothing to show for it but helping Gietners Wall Street friends. By the way have you noticed that Gietner has not been seen or heard from since these looters( OWS) started their communist movement against Wall Street? Why is Hussien Obama hiding him? I would bet like most of Hussien Obama's appointees he came from Wall Street. What was it, Goldman Sachs? So twharr you are either that uninformed or just stupid.

November 4, 2011 at 4:17 p.m.
joneses said...

Before twhrr or one of these other communist liberals says anything I want to admit I did not say Muammar's name correctly. I spelled it Omar. But you know what? That is nothing compared to the stupidity shown by someone supporting Hussien Obama. Again Hussien has spent 6 trillion dollars and the poor are poorer. He is either a pathetic excuse for a president or he knows exactly what he is doing and that is destroying the middle class so more will depend on government.

November 4, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.
ceeweed said...

All politicians are corrupt...They don't care about you, period!... So, all you lefties and righties who eagerly opine about any subject on earth, start rattling off your lists as to how your lives have improved under Bush 1 or Clinton or Bush 2 or Obama...All I know is I work very hard to live a meager life. I have seen my own wages stagnant for years. I got little to nothing from the Bush/Obama tax cuts. I've lost money on what were touted as conservative investments. I witness nearly daily the erosion of freedom in America. I see how campaigns are financed and how money buys power, power that has no regard for who it corrupts...I see how working class tax-payers are used to support the poor and the rich...I am baffled at the extremes of both parties inability to see the stark similarities of these parties and their leaders, as neither party seems to care about the will of the people.

November 4, 2011 at 6:05 p.m.
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