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Low-Wage Work in Buffalo-Niagara

Sam Magavern, John Sullivan Baker — Nov 20, 2018

This policy brief presents data on Buffalo-Niagara workers with a median wage of less than $15 per hour. It includes a list of all the occupations that fall into that low-wage category, along with the number of workers in each occupation and the hourly wage. Setting the data in the context of de-unionization and the shift from manufacturing to service jobs, it analyzes the loss in job quality and offers recommendations for reversing it. The brief was researched by Cornell University High Road …

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The Geography of Poverty in Erie and Niagara Counties

Eli J. Levine — Nov 20, 2018

This Buffalo Brief provides visuals of the locations and rates of poverty in Erie and Niagara counties. 

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Rental Housing Costs in Buffalo

Sarah Wooton — Oct 15, 2018

With the renewed popularity of urban living, along with substantial public and private investment in the city, the value of property throughout Buffalo is on the rise. Certain neighborhoods, including Downtown, Allentown, Hertel/Parkside and areas on the West and East sides, are becoming hot markets – with many homes worth double or triple what owners paid for them. As property values rise in cities, rents do too.

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Racial Disparities and Homelessness in Western New York

Homeless Alliance of Western New York — Oct 12, 2018

In this data analysis, Western New York is defined as Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans County because these are areas the Homeless Alliance of WNY coordinate services with and administer the data for. The Homeless Alliance of Western New York analyzed racial disparities among homelessness within Western New York and examined the homeless system’s equity serving different racial/ethnic groups in terms of receiving those services, prioritizing those services, and housing success …

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Voices for 2020: Ending Family Homelessness Summary Report

Diane Bessell, Homeless Alliance of Western New York — Oct 12, 2018

Voices for 2020 was undertaken at the request of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York with the expressed goal of developing a clearer picture of the physical, psychological, social, and resource needs of homeless families living in Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties. The project was developed in direct response to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness’s call to develop coordinated community responses to end homelessness among families with children …

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Voices for 2020: Strategies to Address Family Homelessness in WNY

Diane Bessell, Homeless Alliance of Western New York — Oct 12, 2018

Ending family homelessness will require a wide variety of community-based strategies to ensure that every member of each family experiencing homelessness is offered the services and supports they need to thrive. Following engagement with homeless families and health and human service providers; a review of the research literature and best practices in addressing the needs of homeless families; and completion of a local environmental scan, several strategies were identified for local action to …

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Employment Data for Buffalo-Niagara

Partnership for the Public Good — Jul 11, 2018

Unemployment in Buffalo and the surrounding region shot upward in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, but declined in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2017, unemployment rose in the city and region while falling in the state and nation. 

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Workers on the Brink: Low-Wage Employment in Buffalo and Erie County

Nicole Hallett — Apr 12, 2018

In 2017, Professor Hallett, winner of a public research fellowship from Open Buffalo and PPG, conducted a survey of 213 workers in Buffalo to learn more about the challenges they are facing. 

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Poverty in Buffalo: Causes, Impacts, Solutions

Sam Magavern, Hayley Ross, Melissa Kathan, Orlando Dickson, Chad Davenport, David Clayton, Alyssa Bergsten — Apr 10, 2018

Poverty in Buffalo-Niagara is concentrated in urban areas. It is segregated and racialized. One major cause of poverty is jobs that do not pay enough. Other major causes include disability, unaffordable housing, and lack of public transit access to quality jobs. Fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr. launched the Poor People’s Campaign, the nation’s commitment to reducing poverty has rarely been weaker, and millions of people are suffering as a result. Poverty is not natural or …

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Renewing Our Pledge: A Path to Ending Lead Poisoning of Buffalo's Most Vulnerable Citizens

Kent Gardner — Mar 29, 2018

This report provides a comprehensive assessment of lead poisoning data for community stakeholders, decision makers, and funders. The assessment was advised by the WNY Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning and informed by key staff from the City of Buffalo Department of Permits and Inspections and Corporation Counsel, the Erie County Department of Health, and interviews conducted with officials, tenants, landlords, homeowners, nonprofit staff, community leaders, and other stakeholders in Erie …

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Poverty in Buffalo-Niagara

Partnership for the Public Good — Feb 28, 2018

Poverty in Buffalo-Niagara is concentrated in urban areas. It is segregated and racialized. Poverty rates are higher among city-dwellers and people of color. But the number of whites living in poverty is higher than the number of people of color, and the number of people in poverty outside the cities is about equal to the number inside the cities. One major cause of poverty is jobs that do not pay enough. Other major causes include disability, unaffordable …

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The Consequences of Being Unbanked in Buffalo

Jessica Gilbert — Feb 28, 2018

This policy brief was drafted by Jessica Gilbert, a research associate at the Partnership for the Public Good and a Ph.D. student in geography at the University at Buffalo. It offers national and local information about people who lack bank accounts and describes some of the impacts of being “unbanked,” including reliance on exploitative services such as check cashing, rent to own stores, and pawn shops. This research supports the work of the Buffalo Niagara Community Reinvestment …

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Urban Design Project

Dec 31, 2017

The UB Regional Institute and Urban Design Project have officially merged under the UB Regional Institute name. Our long established history in the region and track record of success in public policy and urban planning/design, our professional staff, affiliated faculty and graduate students, our position as the research enterprise of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, and our strong connection to the University at large, are our greatest assets. This is what sets us …

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A Profile of Financial Hardship in Erie County

United Way of Buffalo and Erie County — Nov 27, 2017

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WNY Women & Children Living in Poverty Fact Sheet

WNY Women's Foundation — Nov 27, 2017

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Transitioning off Public Assistance: Community Agenda Plank Video

UB Media Studies — Jun 27, 2017

In the spring of 2017, students from Professor Dorothea Braemer's class in the UB Media Studies department collaborated with community organizers to create videos on four of the 2017 Community Agenda plank issues.

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Breaking Down Misconceptions About Poverty

Sam Magavern — Feb 1, 2017

What does an average poor family look like? The image that you just had in mind wasn't the one.  The reality is really different.

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Inclusionary Zoning: Creating Equity and Lasting Affordability in the City of Buffalo, New York

Victoria Neenan, Skye Hart, Buffalo Inclusionary Housing Coalition — Oct 12, 2016

The City of Buffalo is experiencing fast-rising rents and housing prices in the midst of severe and growing poverty.  New housing is being built, with generous subsidies from the taxpayers, but most of it is luxury or market-rate apartments and condominiums.   Far from aiding the affordability crisis, this new development is worsening it, particularly in neighborhood such as downtown, the West Side and Fruit Belt, where gentrification is underway and displacement of lower income …

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Energy Poverty in Buffalo's West Side: PUSH, National Fuel, and the Fight for Equitable Energy Access

Anthony Hilbert — Jun 16, 2016

Energy poverty, the condition of households that cannot adequately heat their homes, is a chronic problem resulting from low income, high fuel prices, and poorly insulated, energy inefficient houses.  In addition to financial strain, energy poverty causes severe social and health problems for people living in under-heated homes (Boardman 1991; 2013).  Despite its seriousness and pervasiveness, energy poverty has been ignored too often in the US.  Those that suffer through energy …

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One Region Forward A New Way To Plan For Buffalo Niagara

University at Buffalo Regional Institute — Jul 20, 2015

This document represents the culmination of three years of research, community engagement, partnership building and planning under the banner of One Region Forward. Within the pages of this plan, you will find the major research findings of what the data tells us about where the region is today and expressions of thousands of citizen voices on the direction people in the region want to see Buffalo Niagara go. Proposed strategies and actions, built by a team of 100+ subject matter experts, are …

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A Raise for Fast Food Workers Will Help Western New York

Sam Magavern — Jun 3, 2015

The most pressing problems in Western New York in many areas of life, including education, healthcare, and criminal justice, can be traced to a single root: poverty.  Families living in poverty suffer from lower graduation rates, more chronic diseases, and more criminal violence than families earning living wages.  In our region, as around the nation, roughly 45% of workers are employed in low-wage service sector jobs.  Those jobs are not going away; in fact, they are the fastest …

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Initiatives for a Stronger Community

Mark Poloncarz — Mar 31, 2015

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Temp Work and Poverty in Buffalo

Jan 1, 2015

There are many kinds of temp work, but this report focuses on the most common type, in which a worker is employed by a temporary service agency and placed at one or more work sites.  The temp agency typically charges its client business roughly twice the worker’s hourly wages.  Temp agencies create a triangular relationship in which the worker works at the host business but for the temp agency.  In other words, it is the temp agency that typically recruits, screens, hires, …

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A True Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers

Nov 13, 2014

The most pressing problems in Western New York in sectors such as education, health, and crime can be traced to a single root: poverty.  Families living in poverty suffer from lower graduation rates, more chronic diseases, and more criminal violence than families earning living wages.  In our region, as around the nation, roughly 45% of workers are employed in low-wage service sector jobs.  Those jobs are not going away; in fact, they are the fastest growing occupations in the …

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Raising the Minimum Wage: Key Facts and Figures

Oct 28, 2014

In New York State, roughly 37% or workers earn low wages (less than $15 per hour, or $31,200 per year).  In Erie County, the percentage is 41% (159,800 of 393,600 wage-earning workers).  94% of low wage workers in New York State are age 20 or over.  67% of those earning low wages are working 35 hours per week or more.  51% of those earning low wages have some college education or more.  53% of low-wage workers are female.  53% are white, 18% are black, 21% are …

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Employment Data for Buffalo

Allison Considine — Sep 1, 2014

The types of jobs available in Buffalo have changed post-recession, with midlevel skilled jobs disappearing and high and low skill jobs growing.  The loss of jobs in fields such as teaching, office administration, factory work and construction work during the recession is exacerbated by the fact that many midlevel jobs, such as manufacturing, are being automated or sent to cheaper markets.  Growth has occurred on the high and low skill ends of the spectrum, however, with increases in …

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Buffalo Poverty Research Workshop

Mark Poloncarz — Mar 28, 2014

While Erie County’s unemployment rate and levels of poverty are better than the state and national averages, not everyone is benefitting from our resurgent economy.  In fact, many at the lowest rung of the economic ladder are being left behind, and income inequality is now putting at risk the middle class.  Poverty plays a profound role in the educational challenges in a city where nearly one in two students does not graduate high school on time.  Poverty also contributes …

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Working for 'Extras,' Working for 'Nothing'

Erin Hatton — Mar 1, 2014

The workshop offers everyone concerned with Buffalo's poverty the chance to hear about new and ongoing research, promising strategies, and opportunities for collaboration. 

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Casino Gambling will Create More Costs Than Benefits in New York State

Alexis Leonard, Michael Cimasi — Oct 16, 2013

In November 2013, New York State voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to expand casino gambling.  Currently, the state has five casinos run by Indian tribes.  The proposed amendment would allow up to seven non-tribal casinos in areas not including New York City and not including areas, such as Western New York, where the state is bound by an exclusivity agreement with an Indian tribe.  A law expanding casino gambling has passed the state legislature, but, …

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How the Seneca Gaming Corporation has Violated its Contract and Broken its Promises to the City of Buffalo

Michael LoCurto — Jan 31, 2013

The Seneca Gaming Corporation promised the City of Buffalo, in a legally binding contract, that it would construct a tourist destination casino in a park-like setting, market it to out-of-town visitors, and employ large numbers of Buffalonians.  However, the idea of a tourist casino in downtown Buffalo was never realistic.  The SGC has violated nearly every term in its contract, showing blatant disregard for the City, and its current plans reveal the casino for what it was always …

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Casino Briefing

Citizens For a Better Buffalo — Dec 31, 2012

Presentation by the Citizens for a Better Buffalo on casino.

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Erie County Work Experience Program Partnerships with Non-Profits Offer Work Experience to Temporary Assistance to Needy Family Recipients

Gretchen Sullivan — May 1, 2012

TANF stands for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.  It is one of the United States federal assistance programs.  It began on July 1, 1997, and succeeded the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.  It provides cash assistance to indigent American families with dependent children through the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

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Creating Assets, Savings & Hope Buffalo

Rachel Swyers — Apr 1, 2012

Created in 2004, Creating Assets, Saving & Hope (CASH) Buffalo works to increase the financial stability of low-to-moderate income families in Buffalo and Erie County.  CASH’s mission is to increase the financial stability of low-income families by increasing access to tax credits, refunds, and needed income supports; improving financial literacy, and providing opportunities for homeownership, education, or other types of asset building.

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Project Dandelion

Timothy Moriarty — Apr 1, 2012

Project Dandelion, a project of Neighborhood Legal Services, brings together community and legal support for families and individuals receiving public assistance, helping them to attain economic self-sufficiency through legal advocacy, training, peer group support, publications, volunteer opportunities, and legal information.

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The Buffalo Living Wage Ordinance

Joseph Guza — Apr 1, 2012

Buffalo’s Living Wage Ordinance (LWO) provides that certain workers must be paid a living wage.  The goal of the LWO is to make sure that employees working for the City of Buffalo and its contractors earn enough to keep their families out of poverty.  Buffalo’s LWO was passed unanimously in 1995 but was not implemented until 2002.  The LWO was amended in 2002 and 2007.

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Geographies of Poverty: Buffalo-Niagara Metropolitan Area

Christopher Szczygiel — Mar 16, 2012

The local economy is often discussed in terms of the Buffalo-Niagara Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), a multi-county area with a population of over one million.  While it is useful to take a regional perspective, it is also useful to consider individual cities, towns or villages.  The economic picture in the city of Buffalo (population 266,012) is so quite different than that of the town of Holland (population 3,430).  The poverty rates in the cities of Buffalo (29.6%) and …

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The Geography of Poverty: City of Buffalo

Robert Grimaldi — Mar 16, 2012

Between 2000 and 2010, several census tracts on the East and West Sides fell deeper into poverty.  Broadway-Fillmore’s poverty rate rose from 45.9% to 51.9%, the Niagara Street neighborhood immediately west of Downtown rose from 45.6% to 62.5%, and two tracts in Black Rock rose from 39.2% and 36.3% to 46.0%.  Also, several North Buffalo neighborhoods experienced significant drops in poverty rates, including Parkside falling from 28.2% to 15.8%, Central Park falling from 16.0% to …

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State Funding for the NFTA Reduces Pollution, Fights Poverty, and Promotes Economic Development

Feb 7, 2012

New York State should support public transit in Buffalo-Niagara by increasing Transit Operating Assistance and increasing the NFTA’s allocation of low-cost electric power.  There is no more effective tool for reducing pollution, cutting poverty, and promoting economic development than affordable and comprehensive mass transit.  In recent years, New York State has been cutting its funding to the NFTA, even as the NFTA’s costs have been rising.  State funding has been …

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Buffalo, Amherst, and Erie County: Worlds Apart

Aug 31, 2011

Examines demographic, population, and economic markers between Buffalo, Amherst, and Erie County.

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Geovisualizing Childrens transport exclusion: Childrens Afterschool Activity Opportunities in the Buffalo Metropolitan Area

Jin-Kyu Jung — Jul 26, 2011

This research investigates current and potentially desired opportunities available for children’s afterschool activities in the U.S. Buffalo metropolitan area. By analyzing and geographically visualizing travel paths, excluded children’s activity space, and existing activity opportunities in the 3D view using GIS, the study looks at how children’s activity opportunities are limited by any socio-spatial factors such as racial distribution,median income, current …

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Poverty and Casino Gambling in Buffalo

Sam Magavern, Elaina Mule — Jan 19, 2011

The Buffalo Creek Casino will exacerbate Buffalo’s poverty.  Casinos, especially urban casinos, attract many gamblers living at or near the poverty line, and problem or pathological gamblers often fall from the middle class into poverty.  Proximity to casinos is a major factor in problem gambling.  The Buffalo Creek Casino is located in a high-poverty zone.  Population’s already facing high poverty rates and inequalities, such as African Americans, have higher …

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Unemployment and Poverty in Western New York

Owen Field — Apr 29, 2010

It is a common understanding that a high unemployment rate means that more people are out of work and therefore more people have fallen into poverty.  But the relationship between unemployment and poverty is complex, and the two may not always relate very directly.  It is necessary to examine states, counties, and even cities separately to determine the extent of this relationship and the possibilities of other influential factors.

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Who is Living in Poverty and Why?

Sam Magavern — Apr 29, 2010

In thinking about poverty, it is common to focus on those places and populations where the poverty rate is the highest, where poverty is the most concentrated and visible.  Thus, many associate poverty with inner city residents, people of color, high school drop-outs, never-married mothers, and people without jobs – all of whom suffer from disproportionately high rates of poverty.  There are both good and bad reasons to focus attention on these groups, but it is important to …

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Drug Testing by Potential Employers

Neil Diegelman — Apr 28, 2010

New York State should pass laws that regulate pre-employment drug testing in order to maximize fairness, accuracy, and efficiency while recognizing employers’ needs to maintain a drug-free workplace.  Drug testing, when done properly, is quite accurate and has standardized procedures to ensure fairness.  A pre-employment drug test can be an effective way for an employer to check on factors influencing whether an applicant will be productive or continuously tardy or have attitude …

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Transportation and Low Wage Work

Michael Raleigh — Apr 28, 2010

Living on a low wage can be extremely difficult, yet the number of low wage jobs in metro Buffalo grew by 17% from 2004 to 2008.  This means that many more people are struggling to figure out how to survive with less money.  It also means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for many people to afford transportation.  As the location of employment has dispersed throughout the region, transportation has become a basic need similar to food, clothing, and shelter.  A …

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Children First! Child Care Assistance in Erie County

Alexa Rissoff — Apr 27, 2010

Child care subsidies are distributed in each county in New York by the county’s Department of Social Services.  Due to a drop in state funding, Erie County has changed its eligibility level from 200% to 125% of the poverty line.  The former level for eligibility should be reinstated because subsidized child care has social, financial and societal benefits.

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Strengthening Unemployment Insurance

Robert Mietlicki — Apr 27, 2010

A person’s eligibility for unemployment insurance in New York State is determined by the New York State Unemployment Insurance Law.  A person may be eligible for benefits if he lost his job due to a lack of work, such as the end of seasonal or temporary employment or the downsizing of a company.  A person may also be eligible if he was fired because he did not meet an employer’s qualifications for a job.  A worker may be denied unemployment benefits if he was fired …

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The Problem of Worker Misclassification

Ryan Parisi — Apr 27, 2010

Employee misclassification is a significant problem that continues to plague the labor market. Unscrupulous and unknowing employers alike are costing individual workers and society tremendously. Not only are workers missing out on legal protections, but society is losing contributions from employers that should be paid into different employment systems (payroll taxes, unemployment benefits, workers compensation benefits, etc.).

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Criminal Convictions and Employment Rights in New York State

Robert Strassel — Apr 26, 2010

New York has a strong policy toward preventing discrimination based on prior criminal convictions and its progressive policy outlook should encouraged.  In 2007 a report concluded that New York employees were largely unfamiliar with State laws regulating an employer’s use of prior criminal convictions for employment-related decisions, and in response, the legislature amended Section 296 of New York Executive Law to require employers to post and disseminate information regarding a job …

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Education Levels and Low-Wage Work

Dannine Consoli — Apr 26, 2010

Is education the key to getting low-wage workers out of poverty and into higher paying, middle class jobs? In the United States, roughly one in three jobs pays a low wage.  The Center for Economic and Policy Research defines “low wage” as less than 66 percent of the median wage for male workers (the median weekly pay rate for men in the fourth quarter of 2009 was $825).  Employees with higher levels of education do have a significantly lower probability of working a …

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How to Improve Erie County's Work First Program

Rachel Jones — Apr 26, 2010

The major shift to a welfare to work model happened in 1996 with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.  This federal law aimed to decrease dependency on public assistance by – among other things – forcing people to work for their assistance.  Erie County did not need this Act to focus on work. Erie County Department of Social Services has been enforcing work requirements and operating as a work first county since 1988.  In 1994, the County created its …

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Overtime Violations

Lisa Diaz-Ordaz — Apr 26, 2010

Overtime violations are especially prevalent in low wage jobs.  Some of the industries with notably high instances of violations include the restaurant and hotel industries, retail, drug and grocery stores, private households and home health care.  Within these industries, occupations with the most overtime violations include childcare workers, home health care workers, waiters and bartenders, cooks and food preparers, retail salespeople, cashiers and stock clerks.  A quick …

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TANF and Higher Education

Leah Hardy — Apr 26, 2010

Welfare reforms in 1996 created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant program (TANF).  Under the assumption that a job will provide recipients with a path to self-sufficiency, this program focuses primarily on putting them to work.  Unfortunately, this work-first focus has not resulted in a path out of poverty for the majority of recipients.  New York State must reform its TANF program to provide relevant education and training for its recipients, equipping them …

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Paid Sick Leave: Should Investing in the Workforce be Mandatory?

Stuart Frame — Apr 22, 2010

Paid sick leave is a benefit supplied to employees: it means that they are allotted a certain amount of days every year when they can call in sick and the employer still pays them for a full day of work. Roughly 86% of U.S. workers currently receive at least some paid sick leave as a benefit from their employers.  While workers at larger businesses have more paid leave than workers at smaller firms, in every sector of the economy the vast majority of workers get paid sick leave.  Most …

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Unionization of Low Wage Workers

Brian Hartmann — Apr 22, 2010

The unionization of workers, particularly those engaged in occupations which pay low wages, has often been criticized by business leaders as stifling economic development.  This brief explores unionization of low wage work in both national and local terms and discusses its effects on economic development and on the lives of workers.  It asserts that in spite of the recent decline in union participation, the organizing of low wage labor significantly increases workers’ quality of …

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An Educational Gift: Teacher Aides in New York State

Alexa Rissoff — Apr 20, 2010

Teacher Aides, also referred to as teacher assistants, instructional aides, paraprofessionals or paraeducators, generally provide non-instructional and clerical support for classroom teachers.  While this fact sheet focuses on teacher aides, it is important to briefly note the major differences between teacher aides and teaching assistants in New York.

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Dishwashers: Workers in a Low-Wage Occupation

Robert Strassel — Apr 20, 2010

There are no educational or licensing requirements to become a dishwasher.  Typically, dishwashers are trained on the job by experienced co-workers.  Some employers require employees to complete educational materials addressing issues including safety guidelines, equipment maintenance, and cleansing procedures.

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Landscapers and Grounds Keepers

Ryan Parisi — Apr 20, 2010

The tasks of a landscaper or groundskeeper in the Buffalo region vary by the time of year and even the day.  The jobs include mowing lawns, “edging” driveways and sidewalks, trimming bushes, trees and other vegetation, planting vegetation, removing old or dead vegetation, fall and spring “clean ups” which involve cleaning a property and preparing it for the next season, watering vegetation, maintaining overall appearance of property, mulching, weeding, and pruning …

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The Job of a UB Janitor

Michael Raleigh — Apr 20, 2010

It varies.  You can do carpet shampoo, floor work, taking care of trash, recycling, clean up spills of blood or chemicals, snow removal.  It depends on the building.  I work in some of the medical buildings where there are different labs and experiments.  Other people who work in residence halls do not deal with these different conditions.  Yeah, you bet it can be dangerous.  Some of the areas where people work have nuclear materials.  There is a nuclear …

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Working as an EMT

Robert Mietlicki — Apr 20, 2010

The work of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) is often the difference between life and death for a patient.  EMTs respond to various medical emergencies including car accidents, heart attacks, slips and falls of the elderly, childbirth, and gunshot wounds.  In responding to emergencies, EMTs assess a patient’s condition, determine pre-existing medical conditions, and provide emergency care while transporting patients to an emergency room.  EMTs often work with police …

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Exploring Low Wage Work in the Farming Industry

Stuart Frame — Apr 19, 2010

Farm work encompasses a variety of different jobs.  When I worked for a farmer and farm market owner in Rochester, my tasks ranged from picking corn and berries to sell in the market, hoeing weeds in the pumpkin patch, and irrigating and helping plow the fields and maintaining the orchards.  I very much enjoyed, as did my interview contact, certain aspects of farm work.  It is very fulfilling to spend the day working outside with one’s hands.  The variety of tasks that …

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Food Service Workers in Buffalo Public Schools

Rachel Jones — Apr 19, 2010

Generally, employees are expected to assist the cook in the preparation and serving of the food. These workers are also required to clean all areas, as well as dishes and cooking utensils.  They must maintain clean spaces in the kitchen and in the rest rooms.  The food service worker could also be required to serve as a cashier or checker.  There are other possible employment conditions.

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Food Service Workers in Restaurants: Short Order Cooks, First-Line Supervisors, and Managers

Lisa Diaz-Ordaz — Apr 19, 2010

Short order cooks are restaurant workers who prepare food as it is ordered by customers.  First-line supervisors also have to prepare food, but at the same time they must supervise the other workers who are cooking and preparing food.  In contrast, food service managers are responsible for the daily operations of a restaurant including all administrative and human resource functions of the restaurant.  In Erie County in 2008, the average weekly wage for a cook at a limited …

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Home Health Aides

Chenoa Maye — Apr 19, 2010

Home health aides typically work for certified home health or hospice agencies that receive government funding and therefore must comply with extensive regulations.  This means that home health aides must work under the direct supervision of a medical professional, usually a nurse.  The aides keep records of services performed and of clients' condition and progress.  They report changes in the client's condition to the supervisor or case manager.  Aides also work with …

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Retail Sales: Selling to make a Living

Neil Diegelman — Apr 19, 2010

Interview with retail salesperson conducted March 16, 2010.  James Silver is a 28-year old white male working at Sears.  His work week consists of between 35 and 40 hours, and he has been employed with Sears for over five years.  James has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University at Buffalo.

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Sanitation Workers in the City of Buffalo

Dannine Consoli — Apr 19, 2010

Sanitation workers, also referred to as refuse collectors, collect trash from homes and businesses.  They either lift the garbage cans themselves or use a hydraulic lift for dumpsters.  The work is physically demanding and repetitive.  Sometimes they have to lift large heavy objects, such as furniture or large kitchen appliances.  They normally work an 8 hour shift that often begins between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. They usually work regardless of the weather.

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School Bus Monitors in Western New York

Brian Hartmann — Apr 19, 2010

The New York State Department of Education defines a “bus monitor” (also commonly referred to as a “bus aide”) as any person employed for the purpose of assisting children to safely embark and disembark from a school bus which is owned, leased or contracted for by a public school district or board of cooperative educational services, and for the purpose of assisting the school bus driver with maintaining proper student behavior on such school bus.

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Working as a Security Guard in Western New York

Owen Field — Apr 19, 2010

Being a security guard is something to be proud of.  A security guard protects people, and the job can be challenging and even dangerous.  Guards have to be licensed, and there are certain safety measures and skills that they have to learn.  Security guards can save lives, stop terrorism, and make entire neighborhoods feel more comfortable.  Under the right circumstances, security can make a good career. There can be opportunities for increased rankings and advancements, and …

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Working as a Receptionist

Kasia McDonald — Mar 25, 2010

According to the New York Department of Labor, the job prospects for receptionists from 2006-2016 are very favorable.  Currently, the median wage for receptionists in western New York is $24,500, with, on an annual basis, 170 new openings and a projected 6% annual job growth.  In 2006, there were 5,670 employed as a receptionist in this region; in 2016, there are expected to be 6,010.  Nationally, receptionist held 1.1 million jobs in 2008, with the largest numbers working in …

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Playing an Insecure Hand

Feb 1, 2010

For a growing number of families and workers in Western New York, low-wage work is the only—or the last—employment option.  In 2009, one out of four jobs in the region were in occupations where the median annual wage fell below the poverty line for a family of four.  This rising reliance on low-wage work is a discouraging change from the post-war economic boom when incomes and standards of living soared—a period that continues to shape our employment and lifestyle …

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Comparing the Economic Competitive Advantages of Indian Run Casinos Located on Sovereign Lands in Western New York Over Other Hospitality Operations

Steve Siegel — Jan 1, 2010

The Seneca Gaming Corporation has constantly attempted to convince the citizens of WNY that their casinos will provide long-term economic benefits to the area.  The local “mainstream” media has, with few exceptions, repeatedly quoted the statistics that the SGC’s public relations people have provided them.  The mainstream media has rarely if ever done an independent analysis of the numbers or sought answers to some of the more disturbing statistics.

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Individuals Below the Poverty Level

Dec 31, 2009

Census Tracts in the City of Buffalo.

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Buffalo Poverty Reduction Blueprint

Donna Brown — Apr 29, 2009

High levels of poverty in the City of Buffalo continue to persist despite significant economic development in the last several years.  With recent data by the U.S. Census Bureau listing Buffalo as the third poorest city in the nation, it is imperative that a comprehensive and strategic approach be put into place to address this situation.  This report is designed to be a blueprint for strategic planning and action to reduce the level of poverty in Buffalo and assure that all of …

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Childcare Workers

Leah Hardy — Apr 19, 2009

Childcare workers monitor infants and children to ensure their well-being and safety.  They provide primary care for infants (change diapers, prepare bottles, put them down for naps, etc.) and provide activities to keep older children occupied and help them to “develop self-esteem, curiosity, imagination, physical skills, and speech.”

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Informal Economies

Chris Berardi — Nov 20, 2008

The informal economy comprises the parts of the economy that are not regulated.  These parts include illicit activity like the sale of drugs, architects doing work under the table, hairdressers who operate in cash and don’t report their income, businesses employing illegal workers, and businesses operating without government required licenses.  Informal economic actors are often self-employed, or are employed elsewhere and operating an informal business on the side as a means …

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Economic Inequality in New York State

Amy Kaslovsky — Nov 19, 2008

New York State was the state with the greatest income disparity between the rich and poor in the mid-2000s.  At that time incomes in the bottom fifth of the population were 8.7 times lower than those in the top fifth.  In New York City this gap was even wider.  In the mid-2000s the City’s top income quintile had an average income 9.5 times higher than the average income of the bottom quintile.  Overall income in New York State grew between the 1980s and the mid-2000s …

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Poverty Level Work in Western New York

Sam Magavern — Nov 16, 2008

A large percentage of the jobs in western New York do not pay enough to keep a family safely out of poverty.  Roughly 125,000 workers are in occupations for which the median wage is less than $20,000 per year – including salespeople, cashiers, security guards, and child care workers.  Another 40,000 workers are in jobs where the median wage falls between $20,000 and $23,000 – including janitors, home health aides, pre-school teachers, and teachers assistants.

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Predatory Business Practices: Automobile Financing

Rachel Jones — Nov 12, 2008

Poverty is an ever-growing problem affecting much of the country.  People fall into financial holes and certain industries make sure that they stay there.  Low-income individuals are targets for businesses that make their money by providing needed benefits now with an exorbitant cost later.  Jacob S. Hacker, a political scientist at Yale, has said that low-income people are forced to live beyond their means by businesses that target them.  According to a series in The …

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The Geography of Urban Poverty

Wende A. Mix — Jan 1, 2008

The Census Bureau reports poverty statistics annually based on American Community Survey (ACS) data.  For the past two years this has included listing the ten places with the highest poverty rates and the ten with the lowest poverty rates.  This study considers the interpretation of these statistics when different geographies form the analytical framework.  As expected, interpretation of these statistics is influenced by the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP) in geography.

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An Integrated Approach to Fighting Blight and Poverty in Buffalo's Low-Income Neighborhoods

Partnership for the Public Good — Dec 31, 2007

Recently released Census data confirms the City of Buffalo is now among the very poorest and most blighted large cities in the United States.  The report pegs Buffalo’s poverty rate at 29.9%, ranking second behind only Detroit.  This news was released within days of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s announcement of his “5 in 5” Demolition Plan.  This plan sets a goal of demolishing 5,000 houses in five years, on the road to stabilizing Buffalo’s vacancy …

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City of Buffalo Living Wage Ordinance

City of Buffalo — Dec 31, 2007

The city awards many contracts to private firms to provide services to the public and to city government. Experience indicates that procurement by contract of services has all too often resulted in the payment by service contractors to their employees of wages at or slightly above the minimum required by federal and state minimum wage laws.  Such minimal compensation tends to inhibit the quantity and quality of services rendered by such employees to the city and to the public.  …

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Poverty and Buffalo: Beyond the Headlines

Wende A. Mix — Dec 31, 2007

On August 28, 2007 the U.S. Census Bureau released statistics on poverty and earnings in the United States.  These statistics were based on results from the 2006 American Community Survey (ACS) which is an ongoing (continuous measurement) survey conducted by the Bureau.  The Buffalo News published a front page story on August 30, 2007 with the following headline “Buffalo falls to second-poorest big city in U.S., with a poverty rate of nearly 30 percent”.  The Census …

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Proposed Agreement with Seneca Erie Gaming Corporation, Seneca Gaming Corporation and Seneca Nation

Byron Brown — Oct 12, 2006

Letter from Mayor Byron W. Brown regarding the Seneca Erie Gaming Corporation.

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Poverty: A State of Extremes

Oct 1, 2006

New York was the only state where both poverty and income exceeded national levels in 2005, with 13.8% of residents living in poverty and a median household income of $49,480.  This high poverty/high income paradox underscores a widening ‘wealth gap’ observed in New York and nationwide.  Buffalo Niagara differed from the state in 2005, with a poverty rate (12.7%) close to the U.S. average and a median household income that was $4,000 below the U.S. median.  Within the …

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The High Cost of Being Poor

Brian Meyer, Jonathan Epstein, Rod Watson — Jun 21, 2006

A FOUR-PART SERIES REPRINTED FROM JUNE 18-21, 2006.  In November 2005, about half-a-dozen Buffalo News reporters and editors sat in a circle and began brainstorming story ideas. As part of a two-day training session conducted by the Committee of Concerned Journalists, the News staffers were looking for story ideas that would be worth an extended investment of time and resources. Jonathan Epstein, a News financial reporter who specializes in banking and insurance issues, suggested it might …

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Losing Ground: Income and Poverty in Upstate New York, 1980-2000

Susan Christopherson, Rolf Pendall — Sep 1, 2004

Over the past several decades, Upstate New York has transitioned from a stable middle-income region to one with serious income and economic problems.  In 1969, per capita personal income (PCPI) in Upstate exceeded that of the United States, but by 2000, it trailed the national average by 11 percent.  These lagging incomes likely contribute to the substantial out-migration of mobile residents from the area—especially in the mid-1990s—which in turn is threatening economic …

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