Study: 15 percent of MI residents live in poverty - WNEM TV 5

Study: 15 percent of MI residents live in poverty

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Michigan remains in the bottom half of all states when it comes to families living in poverty.

A new report is showing how widespread the issue is.

The poverty line is considered at an income of $24,250 for a family of four. That included about 15 percent of the entire state last year.

"It's hard. It's really hard," said James Hill.

Hill enjoyed a meal at the East Side Soup Kitchen in Saginaw on Thursday. He knows firsthand the crippling effects of poverty.

"It's not easy up in here because you got to humble yourself," Hill said.

Hill is not alone. According to a study from the University of Michigan, 15 percent of Michigan residents live below the poverty line.

The national average of people living below the poverty line is 12.7 percent.

In Saginaw County, the poverty rate is about 17.8 percent.

"It's really sad because there's so many people hurting," said Dawn Goodrow, director of the East Side Soup Kitchen,

Goodrow said she sees the impact of poverty in the community growing. They serve about 450 people in one day.

"It's so difficult for people to get out of poverty because when one door opens, another closes. Not in a good way. They might get a job and make a little bit of money, but in another area they're losing a service they were used to," Goodrow said.

As for Hill, he said he is picking up jobs where he can, working to change his situation.

"You want to make it. You gonna make it, but you got to really want it," Hill said.

In Bay County it's about the same as the state rate - about 15 percent. It's a little higher in Genesee County at 20.3 percent.

The highest poverty rate in the state is Isabella County at 23.3 percent.

"There's definitely a need in our community for sure," said Kim Friedrich, director of the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen.

Friedrich sees firsthand how poverty affects people in Isabella County. She sees their faces as they line up and walk through the doors at the soup kitchen.

"We are increasing. We're feeding more people. I've been here four years now and we've gradually increased," Friedrich said.

Rom Paladino has been coming to the soup kitchen for six years. He said he has been in and out of jobs and homes during that time.

"I'm homeless half. I've moved 52 times a minimum a year, or like 100. It's been about six years since my divorce and it's wearing me out," Paladino said.

Others at the soup kitchen said even though the need is great, there is help available.

"The homeless shelter is just next door there and we see a lot of folks. We have a couple of the guys there that do odd jobs for us and so we see quite a lot of that," John Osborn said.

Friedrich said she sees people from every walk of life at the kitchen.

"It's difficult, absolutely. A lot of them are in pretty dire situations. Some just need a helping hand to get through. There are a lot of working poor. They stop in on their lunch break. Others are legitimately homeless," Friedrich said.

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