New Census Bureau numbers show Cleveland poverty levels on the rise

Posted at 5:20 PM, Sep 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-23 20:51:44-04

Empowering the poor: it is what one new father, making less than $24,000 a year wants to see happen.

His message comes out just as numbers from the Census Bureau show that he and many other Clevelanders are living their lives in poverty.

Even though there is plenty of talk about the city's comeback, for some, it's an everyday struggle.

Right now, Cleveland ranks number two among big cities with the highest poverty rate.

It’s territory Cleveland has been in for years, but there is a new concern the city could soon clinch the top spot.

Marc Peterson is one of the many people living in poverty.

"I don't hate my life, but I can be doing better," said Marc Peterson.

Peterson survives on less than $24,000 a year by sacrificing.

"You can't always get what you want when you need your money to get what you need," said Peterson.

The 32-year old, and first-time father, found himself unemployed and spending all his time drinking and smoking on the streets.

"We get up and we repeat, 7:30 in the morning, seven days a week, 24 hours a day,"  Peterson said.

Addicted to alcohol, Peterson was stuck in a vicious cycle until he came to The Centers for Families and Children.

"When I first started here I wasn't working at all. I didn't have a job," Peterson said.

The Centers gave Peterson the tools he needed to break free from addiction, return to the workforce and eventually get him and his family out of poverty.

"Cleveland, Cuyahoga County does have a great social safety net, but it's just not enough," said Elizabeth Newman, CEO for The Centers.

Newman tells News 5 stories like Marc’s show Clevelanders in poverty face very complex problems.

"It's not a you come and receive one service and you're good to go," Newman said.

Newman believes more investment and innovation can move people out of poverty.

"The need is growing - not getting smaller," said Newman.

But as Cleveland's poverty rate ticks up, and the city leading the pack, Detroit, moves down, there's a concern the city may find itself in the number one spot.

"Which is not a spot any of us want to be in, which hopefully should create more urgency, some renewed urgency," Newman said.

While the solutions may be complex, Peterson tells News 5 something as simple as motivation can help people in poverty.

“If I can change my life, anybody can change their life," said Peterson.