(WKBN) – Poverty is a problem that plagues the Valley. According to the most recent census data, Ohio is above the national average for adult and childhood poverty.
In Columbiana County, there are about 13,000 people currently living in poverty, and close to 4,000 of them are children.
Lisa Wallace runs The Brightside Project. They are a non-profit that specializes in helping children, especially children dealing with trauma in Columbiana county.
“A lot of people might shy away from our services because they think they’re over income. We see that a lot with the kinship foster care situation,” Wallace said.
But most of the children who use their services are living in poverty, and Wallace says they see parents who have grown up in poverty.
“It’s admirable that the parents are bringing their kids here to receive hope,” she said.
The problem is much worse in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. The number of people living in poverty in those counties is 27% and 25% respectively.
“There are many contributing factors as to why a family is in poverty, but I think that sometimes race can play a part in that,” Wallace said.
Wallace says other barriers to education and resources keep people in poverty. Many of the people who come to The Brightside Project for hope and help are employed, but they aren’t making enough to cover their basic expenses.
“The working poor. We’re seeing families where all the adults in the household are working, but it’s just minimum wage,” Wallace said. “They might lack the education to make more than minimum wage. It’s still settling them into the poverty lifestyle, but they are still out there working, trying to get by.”
The Brightside Project only services families and children in Columbiana County, but they are working to expand into Mahoning County. Visit their website for additional resources.
More information on how the government classifies poverty can be found at census.gov.