Study: Poverty on the rise across Indianapolis

Study: 1 in 5 residents live below poverty level

INDIANAPOLIS - In the land of plenty, there are significant numbers of people who go without.

A report released by the Polis Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis said that one in every five residents in Indianapolis live below the poverty level.

When the St. Vincent de Paul food bank opened its doors in 1999, it served an average of 1,200 families per week. Just last week, the food bank assisted more than 4,200 families, an all-time record.

On Wednesday, students at Bishop Chatard High School donated nearly 25,000 cans of food to St. Vincent  de Paul and three other charitable organizations. It was a show of gratitude that will be shared with others for weeks to come.

"A lot of young men and women coming in here who have lost their jobs. And they maybe have a wife and two or three kids. And they'll say, ‘I'm really embarrassed to be here, I've never done this before.’ To which we say, you're why we’re here," Clarence Hirsch with St. Vincent de Paul said.

The IUPUI study has revealed a disturbing portrait of poverty in the city.

Among the most significant numbers, nearly 200,000 people, or one in every five residents, live below the poverty level.

The study said one-third of all children under the age of 18 live below the poverty level, and in the past 12 years, the city's poverty rate has doubled, far outpacing the rate of increase across the state and across the nation.

"Since we have been open, the amount of people that have been coming here has doubled and tripled with the last four or five months," David Woodrupp with International Gateway Community Pantry said.

For many Indianapolis residents, the recession isn't over. Help with housing expenses, rising utility bills and putting food on the table are in greatest demand at Connect 2 Help.

What has changed is the face of people in need. Officials with Connect 2 Help said seniors are the fastest-growing group of callers.

The IUPUI report said that people of Hispanic descent, more than any other ethnic group in Indianapolis, have experienced the highest rate of poverty.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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