Data shows staggering trend of minority communities living in poverty in Central Virginia

Data shows staggering trend of minority communities living in poverty in Central Virginia
Posted at 11:19 PM, Jul 14, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- New data has shown staggering trends in Central Virginians of those who were living in poverty.

Black and Latino individuals in Greater Richmond and Petersburg faced significant inequities in terms of income and poverty levels, according to The United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg.

In their latest Equity Data Series Installment, the nonprofit found nearly 30 percent of black people in the region lived below 200 percent of the poverty line.

"This isn't just a number. This is a person, this is a family, these are our community members and our friends," said Audrey Trussell, Vice President of Community Impact. "Black individuals make up about 29% of the population, but they make up half of the folks who are experiencing poverty."

Meanwhile, data showed Latino individuals made up only six percent of the population but accounted for 15 percent of people living in poverty in the region, according to that report.

Compared to white populations, which made up 62 percent of the population, they accounted for 41 percent of people experiencing poverty, according to the study.

Trussell said the pandemic hadn't helped those trends.

"We're starting to see an even greater gap in between folks who are already doing well, already stable financially, and folks who were not," Trussell said.

She said barriers in access to banking could exacerbate the problem.

"It's estimated about $40,000, over a lifetime is spent by households who don't have standard banking access. That's because of the fees and the costs," Trussell said.

She added that there were several reasons for unbanked and underbanked populations, like bad credit history, distrust in the system or even transportation.

That's where a Richmond nonprofit called HumanKind came in. Through a program called ‘Ways to Work,' the nonprofit was able to not only offer fair interest vehicle loans but also educate people on how to handle their finances.

"We're able to give them the keys to the car. And then this person can suddenly go out and interview for jobs that they thought were never possible, can look at moving to neighborhoods, accessing resources," said Jonathan Gedeon, Capital Region Program Manager.

"It really starts with helping one person and then, you know, that person can teach it to their children, and their children can teach it to their children or their family members. And it makes a much bigger impact," Gedeon added.

The United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg was investing more than half a million dollars in 15 different programs amongst 14 different nonprofits like HumanKind to combat barriers to equitable income and close that gap.

"There's still work to be done. And it's not to be sugar-coated that when everyone in our community thrives, the whole community thrives. And so, we have to be very honest in that conversation of we are making great progress, but we can't let up," Trussell said.



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