Texas poverty rate declines, local organization in El Paso not convinced

Texas poverty rate declines, local organization in El Paso not convinced
Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 9:32pm

Fewer Texans are living in poverty - that's according to a new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to the report, for the first time since the U.S. recession began in 2008, the poverty rate in Texas has declined from 18.5% to 17.9%. 

But one local organization in El Paso that works with needy families isn't convinced.

"The reality in our community is that we are still a very poor community. We are still a community of working poor, specifically families who are barely making it, just paycheck to paycheck," said Estela Reyes, spokesperson with the Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe in El Paso.

The community health center argues they're the boots on the ground each day, and interact with El Paso's large community of working poor families, whose situations don't seem to be getting any better.

"When we hear about studies that claim, 'Oh, poverty is down,' to us, that means very little because we have to go by what we see on the street," said Reyes.

But others remain optimistic and turn to the recent development and revitalization efforts in town for hope that the problems of unemployment and wage will soon improve.

"We have the new mall that's opening out by Cielo Vista, they're building another one over here on the west side, there's a lot of stuff going on here," said Chris Wright.

"A big part of it is encouraging our future generations to get a degree and achieve their professional goals, and all of that keeping in mind that we want to stay in El Paso," said Ingrid Wright.

Still - while the poverty rate may have reportedly gone down, the U.S. Census Bureau only reports a less than 1% drop.

Texas' poverty rate remained above the national rate, and above the state's pre-recession rate.

The Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe also said census reports often miss the large population of undocumented workers in a community, which can compromise the accuracy of the reports.

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