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Communications Bureau, City of Rochester

Communications Bureau, City of Rochester

If you’re a poor kid in Monroe County, you’re kind of screwed.

That’s according to a study from two Harvard researchers that shows where you grow up matters enormously when it comes to your income later in life.

The New York Times puts it this way:

Consider Monroe County, N.Y….

It’s among the worst counties in the U.S. in helping poor children up the income ladder. It ranks 241st out of 2,478 counties, better than only about 10 percent of counties. It is relatively worse for poor boys than it is for poor girls.

So, what can we do about this?

Across the country, the researchers found five factors associated with strong upward mobility: less segregation by income and race, lower levels of income inequality, better schools, lower rates of violent crime, and a larger share of two-parent households.

“The broader lesson of our analysis,” Mr. Chetty and Mr. Hendren write, “is that social mobility should be tackled at a local level.”

The governor created an anti-poverty panel made up of the usual suspects, a roster of who’s who in Rochester. This panel should take a good, hard look at this research. Not only will be it be tough to come up with actionable solutions, it will be tough to get community buy-in, particularly if it calls for more integrated housing and schools.



New York Times

New York Times


Links of the Day:


– Some law enforcement experts are rethinking the use of force. This comes after fatal shootings of both police officers and suspects, and a call to reexamine zero-tolerance policies. Is there another way these incidents could have been handled?

– There are so many New York lawmakers in trouble, there’s now a searchable database.

– Some state lawmakers, including Assemblyman Joe Morelle, have taxpayer-funded vehicles.

University of Virginia data on Rochester, N.Y.

University of Virginia data on Rochester, N.Y.


Where is the sweet spot in the Rochester metro for wealth? Twelve miles out from the city center.

The University of Virginia did a study showing how inner ring suburbs in the nation’s cities are poorer than they were in 1990. The study also shows center cities are making a comeback.

In Rochester in 1990, per capita income peaked 9 miles from downtown. In 2012, it peaked 12 miles away. Five miles from the city center, per capita income dropped 12 percent during this time period. In fact, the only people who made more money in 2012 compared to 1990 were people living 12 to 16 miles away from downtown Rochester – and people living in downtown Rochester. The rest of us are worse off.

It appears the elderly, who typically live on lower incomes, are moving further out. In 1990, the greatest concentration of elderly lived 4 miles from downtown Rochester. In 2012, the greatest percentage lived 8 miles away.

Poverty is greater across all distances from downtown Rochester compared to 1990. The only distance where it stayed the same – 3 percent – was 12 miles out.

This won’t come as any surprise, but the data shows we’re sprawling out. In 1990, the greater number of people – 83,088 –  lived two miles from downtown Rochester. In 2012, the greatest number lives 3 miles away – 77,444.

Population density remains the highest in downtown Rochester, and declines with each mile away.

Why do we care about this data? Shifting demographics has consequences for real estate, schools, property taxes, services, planning, infrastructure costs and more.


5, 9, 12 mile radius lines.

5, 9, 12 mile radius lines.


Links of the Day:


– The New York Times details systemic problems at Attica Correctional Facility, on the eve of a trial of three officers for a brutal assault on an inmate.

– Although RG&E should be more responsive, I don’t see why the utility or its customers should have to pay for sprawl – especially sprawl with no population growth.

– Virginia has 750 private citizens authorized to be their own one-man police forces.

– The Democrat and Chronicle demands suburban teachers come up with a plan to fix the education system. Last I checked, suburban schools were doing just fine, pointing out a huge flaw in the governor’s war on teachers. But the D&C is clearly buying his rhetoric.

“One or two wrong answers can make or break a teacher’s rating.”


– Ripping apart some positive claims about charter schools.

– The L.A. Times obained access to a foster facility for teenagers. Heartbreaking read.

– What can be done to prevent suicides at the Monroe County Jail?

– The New York Times writes up Buffalo’s massive downtown ice rink. part of the revitalization of the canal system. Pay attention Rochester! We could do this with our aqueduct.

– ‘House of Cards’ music is composed by an Eastman School of Music graduate.











The number of poor people has skyrocketed in the Rochester region – up 30 percent since 2000. A Brookings Institution study shows more of them are living in high-poverty neighborhoods.

suburban poor outnumber city poor. Brookings finds suburban areas have seen fast growth in concentrated poverty, though it remains most severe in cities.

Brookings notes:

If these communities are ignored, they could become areas of concentrated poverty over time.


The challenges of poor neighborhoods—including worse health outcomes, higher crime rates, failing schools, and fewer job opportunities—make it that much harder for individuals and families to escape poverty and often perpetuate and entrench poverty across generations…


Cuomo Links of the Day:


– Cuomo and his aides have lawyered up.

issue statements of support.

immovable object called Preet Bharara.”

– how lonely Albany can be.”

– scandal based on his own micromanagement.”

– Cuomo himself and his aides.”

governor himself and his immediate circle.”

– The Moreland mess has eroded Cuomo’s fear factor.


Links of the Day:


directives about the Bills.

– The federal detainers on immigrants.

– Becoming a teacher is getting more expensive in New York.

– When was the last time you vacationed at Costco?

Seriously, Lockport?


Source: Confronting Suburban Poverty in America


We’ve heard a lot about how poverty in the suburbs has grown over the last decade. The Brookings Institution crunched the numbers and has a startling statistic: Poverty in Rochester’s suburbs went up 73.5 percent between 2000 and 2011. There are more poor people living in the suburbs than the city. 

Brookings tells the Buffalo News, “The growing number of poor in suburbs can be partly explained by a rise in low-paying retail jobs, loss of good paying manufacturing jobs and shifting availability of affordable housing…”

The shift has implications for housing, transportation and schools. Brookings urges communities to assess the way it meets the needs of the poor. You can read more about suburban poverty on a website for a book written by Brookings experts on the topic.

Have you noticed the shift in more poor residents to the suburbs?

Links of the Day:


The statewide texting and driving conviction rate is only 44 percent! In other words, fight that ticket.

– A Democrat and Chronicle columnist predicts Bausch + Lomb is in for a rough ride. (The CEO has a $77 million parachute!)

– The power of the free market: Cabela’s moves into Erie County without tax breaks.

– The Washington Post has a raw story of grief, in a profile of parents of a boy killed at Sandy Hook. Despite so much support, they’re terribly alone.

Rent-to-own tire shops are springing up, preying on the poor.

– The Amish are getting fracked. They don’t believe in lawsuits – and the energy companies know it.

– A woman writes back to Harvard 52 years after admissions letter questioned how she’d balance school and home.

Census data out this week shows the towns with the highest poverty rates and largest share of senior citizens among residents. The American Community Survey compiled data from 2007-2011. The five-year estimates are considered more precise than one-year estimates, though they are not as current. They are also useful because one-year estimates are not available for smaller populations, such as towns.

Monroe County’s poverty rate is 14.4 percent, according to the data.

Town Poverty Rates:

  • Rochester: 31%
  • Sweden: 18%
  • East Rochester: 14%
  • Henrietta: 11%
  • Irondequoit: 11%
  • Brighton: 10%
  • Greece: 9%
  • Gates: 9%
  • Wheatland: 9%
  • Parma: 9%
  • Hamlin: 8%
  • Clarkson: 7%
  • Perinton: 6%
  • Webster: 5%
  • Chili: 5%
  • Ogden: 5%
  • Riga: 5%
  • Pittsford: 4%
  • Penfield: 4%
  • Mendon: 3%
  • Rush: 2%

In Monroe County, 10.3 percent of households are made up of people 65 years old and older. Percentage of households made up of senior citizens in towns:

  • Gates: 15%
  • Brighton: 15%
  • Irondequoit: 14%
  • Penfield: 13%
  • Webster: 13%
  • Greece: 12%
  • East Rochester: 12%
  • Mendon: 11%
  • Riga: 11%
  • Perinton: 10%
  • Rush: 10%
  • Pittsford: 9%
  • Henrietta: 9%
  • Chili: 9%
  • Parma: 8%
  • Rochester: 8%
  • Wheatland: 7%
  • Sweden: 7%
  • Clarkson: 7%
  • Ogden: 6%
  • Hamlin 4%

Links of the Day:

– Ithaca’s mayor wants the state to legalize marijuana for medical use.

– Onondaga County’s district attorney took some heat for saying criminals are more likely to come from single-parent households.

Murals are not an economic development tool.

– The Robert Moses Parkway near Niagara Falls could get redone to make it more waterfront-friendly.

– Staff at the Syracuse zoo are used to delivering babies, but not human ones.

– Apple and Google have reportedly teamed up to buy Kodak patents.

Census data out this week shows the poverty rate in the Town of Greece jumped 75 percent from 2010 to 2011. The poverty rate went from 7.6 percent in 2010 to 13.3 percent in 2011.

What happened?

The rich got richer and the poor got poorer, as seen in Monroe County as a whole. Twenty percent of Greece households earned less than $25,000 a year in 2010, up a full percentage point from 2010. There were fewer households in the middle incomes, with a 4 percent drop in households earning between $35,000 and $75,000. There were more households earning above $100,000, up 4 percent to 21 percent. That could explain why the median income in Greece jumped in one year from $51,934 in 2010 to $57,541 in 2011.

The town’s demographics didn’t changed much over the one-year period. The population increased by fewer than 200 people to 96,239. The proportion of people over 65 years old in 2011 was relatively flat – down .4 percent to 16.5 percent of the population. The racial makeup is the same. The unemployment rate is the same at 6 percent.

The only big changes were a 3 percent jump in 25 to 34 year-olds, to 13.8 percent and a 2.8 percent increase in single mother-headed households to 8.1 percent.

The data shows a big increase of families in poverty. The rate of families in poverty went from 5.3 percent in 2010 to 9.2 percent in 2011. There was a giant increase in the rate of single mothers in poverty, jumping from 18.4 percent in 2010 to 47.2 percent in 2011.

Data was not available for Monroe County’s other suburbs. The census showed poverty increased to 16.7 percent, with one in four children living in poverty. Clearly, the suburbs are included in this problem.

Update: Sean Lahman, data specialist at the Democrat and Chronicle, posted on my Facebook page: 

You have to use caution when comparing ACS data from one year to another. The margin of error on the 2011 numbers is +/- 7.0, which means the poverty rate in Greece might have actually dropped. The fact that the MOE is so high makes me dubious about whether the number rose at all. The Census Bureau folks themselves say “comparing the 2011 ACS 1-year with the 2010 ACS 1-year estimates is not an exact comparison of the economic conditions in 2011 with those in 2010.” As a hard core number cruncher, I’d say this is more about noise in their survey than a sudden dramatic shift.

Links of the Day:

 – Monroe County’s infant mortality rate would rank near the bottom of industrialized nations, and some neighborhoods rival the infant mortality rates of Lebanon and Syria.

– Lt. Governor Bob Duffy is very involved in talks over a new Bills stadium lease. The big question is the penalty a new owner would pay if the team is moved out of town.

– In Albany, local owners are moving into spaces formerly occupied by chain restaurants.

Communications Bureau, City of Rochester

In Monroe County, the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.

The census compares household income by dividing the total number of households by five. The bottom fifth earns the least amount of money and the top fifth earns the most. According to data released this week, in Monroe County:

– The bottom fifth of households earned an average of $10,379, down $319 (3 percent) from 2010 and down $988 (9 percent) from 2008.

– The top fifth had an average household income of $165,573 in 2011, up $2,471 (1.5 percent) from 2010 and up $5,266 (3 percent) from 2008.

– The top 5 percent of earners made an average of $283,603, up $2,622 (1 percent) from 2010 and up $15,260 (6 percent) from 2008.

– The middle fifth earned an average of $50,084 in 2011, up $621 (1 percent) from 2010, but down $1,733 (3 percent) from 2008.

– The top fifth of earners took in 49 percent of all household income. The top 5 percent took in 21 percent of all household income. The poorest fifth of households took in 3 percent of all household income.

– The top fifth of earners made 16 times more money than the bottom fifth in 2011, up from 15 times in 2010 and 14 times in 2008.

There’s no denying income inequality is real in Monroe County.  Rochester has the 7th highest child poverty rate in the nation at 54 percent.

There have always been two Rochesters. The haves and the have-nots. Former Mayor Bob Duffy laid out his vision for “One City” in his 2006 inaugural address:

Let us look at what tends to divide us – politics – race -religion – geography. We need to commit to work to break down those barriers. Our future depends upon our sense of unity of purpose. We must look at our community as family. And when times are tough, families pull together and draw upon each other’s strengths. We are a family and now is the time to show it.

Today I ask you to look in the mirror – to ask yourself each day what did I do today to improve Rochester – and what can I do tomorrow to have a positive influence for a child – for your neighborhood and for our community.

Then, look out the window – and find that opportunity. Every child in our city is an opportunity. Every street in our city is an opportunity. And every job you can offer to someone offers opportunity.

We are a community of great wealth and great poverty. Our future success depends on our ability to connect our great assets with our greatest needs. We are two cities today. In the future, we have to work and commit to be one. One city.

Links of the Day:

– A new study knocks Rochester for having the lowest graduation rate of black males in the country.

– The Susan B. Anthony House would like more Rochesterians to visit.

– Cuomo’s press office made reporters sign waivers before going on a tour of the Adirondacks.

– Xerox is on a hiring spree in Colorado, where an economic development official says $10-an-hour jobs are better than nothing.


Census numbers out today show poverty is growing in Monroe County. The poverty rate jumped more than a full percentage point between 2010 and 2011.

Take a look at the poverty rate in Monroe County:

  • 2008: 13.1%
  • 2010: 15.4%
  • 2011: 16.7%

The City of Rochester is worse off:

  • 2008: 29.3%
  • 2010: 33.8%
  • 2011: 35.5%

There are more children in poverty in our community. From 2010 to 2011, the rate  of children under 18 who lived in poverty in Monroe County jumped from 22.2 percent to 24.8 percent. In the City of Rochester, the rate went from 51.1 percent to 53.9 percent. That means one out of four children in Monroe County and fully half the children in the city live in impoverished households.

Household income in Monroe County has dropped over the last few years, but is making tiny gains:

  • 2008: $51,762
  • 2010: $49,532
  • 2011: $50,204

Brookings ranked Rochester 76th out of 100 metros in economic recovery for the third quarter of 2012.

These numbers are terribly troubling.

Links of the Day:

– Our nation’s school system is incredibly segregated by race and income.

– Trader Joe’s is very secretive about where it gets its products.

– Albany guys out for pizza found themselves interrogated by police about missile launchers.

– There’s a Roc City restaurant in Florida serving garbage plates.

Rochester plans a crackdown on problem convenience stores, the Democrat and Chronicle reports. The stores can be magnets for drug dealers and loiterers. They illegally sell loose cigarettes or drug paraphernalia. Some engage in welfare fraud. Some sell expired and unhealthy food. Some sell diapers individually, a tremendous markup for poor people.

Through zoning, code and police enforcement, the city wants to get a grip on the issue. The number of convenience stores is going up. On Sunday, the D&C’‘s Brian Sharp wrote a very detailed story on what’s going on, estimating there are 350 corner stores in the city:

How to clean up the bad stores, support the good ones and, at the same time, encourage more healthy offerings is a challenge no city appears to have solved.

At City Hall, an emerging plan would tighten enforcement and only allow corner stores into residential areas if they offer fresh produce and limit their offering of tobacco, alcohol and lottery to one but not all. Stores that sell all three might be relegated to major commercial corridors and prohibited from locating within 500 feet of each other.


At City Council suggestion, Rochester also is considering whether to require sales tax returns for business permits to ensure the shop is on the up and up, and looking at ways to take on tobacco and alcohol license enforcement the state could be doing.

Chicago may revoke business licenses of corner stores.

In communities where people are poor and don’t have cars, convenience stores fill a need. The USDA has an interactive map showing food deserts in the country. Zoom into Rochester, and you’ll see there are census tracts where 100 percent of the residents live more than one mile away from a grocery store.

Links of the Day:

– The Democrat and Chronicle published a provocative op-ed from a woman who thinks MADD has too much power and anti-booze laws are too strict.

– Niagara Falls is the victim of a really bad casino deal crafted by the Senecas and the state.

– A raise for state lawmakers? The Albany Times Union says they deserve a pay cut.

– There’s a helium shortage and it’s affecting Upstate New York balloon sales.

Photo Credit: City of Rochester Communications Bureau

Is Rochester the redheaded stepchild of Albany?

First, we received tens of millions of dollars less than our counterparts in Regional Economic Development funding. Now we find out in the State of the State Address the City of Buffalo is getting $1 billion in funding for economic development. That’s billion with a “B.” Rochester didn’t even get a shout-out during the speech.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Buffalo is “in crisis.” Rochester isn’t?

There’s no question our region has lower unemployment and a long-proven ability to rebound from the dramatic downsizing of our large companies. (How ironic that the governor was making his address while reports of Kodak’s impending bankruptcy broke.)

But if we’re going to compare cities, Buffalo and Rochester have virtually identical poverty rates. The median income hovers around $30,000 with one-third of residents living in poverty. The June high school graduation rates don’t top 50 percent.

I’m not terribly familiar with downtown Buffalo, but I can’t imagine Rochester’s downtown is better. Our Main Street is pockmarked with vacancies and a giant hole in the ground. (Has Cuomo learned about Midtown yet?)

Whatever regional success we’re experiencing, it hasn’t trickled down in any giant way to the urban core.

Let’s also remember the City of Rochester faces state-imposed burdens its neighbors do not share. Rochester is required by state law to pay its school district more than Buffalo and Syracuse combined. It also gets less state aid per capita than Buffalo and Syracuse.

Sandy Parker of the Rochester Business Alliance said in a statement, “I am deeply disappointed that Rochester and the Finger Lakes were again overlooked by the powers in Albany…The long-held view in Albany that Rochester can take care of itself is unfair- and punitive.”

The absence of any mention of the Flower City is all the more astounding because our former mayor was at the governor’s side. Does Cuomo think Duffy is still in charge of Rochester and taking care of our problems?

I’m heartened the governor thinks urban issues are important. So is Rochester.