Revisiting Poverty in Maplewood

Pictures taken week of March 8, 2009

Our Community’s Welfare

Our local government is working to address the rise in poverty in one visible way.  The township Welfare Department, working in conjunction with our local libraries, has begun to collect food from the community to distribute to those in need.  Neighbors are helping neighbors by donating canned goods.  Both Hilton and the main branch are accepting donations.  Find above pictures taken at both libraries.  The collection is still underway.

Local Government

Municipal Welfare Department (MWD)– Website: “Please do not walk in. Call 973-762-8120 x 2200 or ask for Drewsilla Thorne, Welfare Director to schedule an appointment.”


  • General Assistance Program
  • Maplewood Fund

Food Bank

The Face of Poverty

American Fact Finder, Census 2000 – Poverty in Maplewood

Snapshot: In my “Planning Analysis – Poverty in Maplewood” post I wrote on the significance of Maplewood Township’s geography in relation to the community median family income.  Geography indicated where in the township you would find concentrations of higher income, middle, or lower income residents in Maplewood. I also addressed the issue of poverty by providing one measure of poverty in our community.

Maplewood is located between (or bordered by) two communities with extreme differences in family income.  The median family income in Maplewood in 1999  was $79, 637.  The gap between the median income of $130,848 of Milburn in relation to the the median income of $36,575 of Irvington reflects a wealth disparity which is in turn found within our own community.  What are these numbers like for our state?  In NJ, the median household income in 1999 was $55,146.  The number of children in poverty is 10.8%. According to the US Census Fact Finder, 4.9% of children live in poverty in Maplewood township.

American Community Survey 2005-2007 – Poverty across the country.

The last Census was about a decade ago.  2010 marks the next Census effort.  The US government utilizes other methods for recording population related data.  The American Community Survey is one way. The CBS Article “Census: Economy Soured Years Ago” utilizes this information to discusses poverty in America, citing that poverty across America has reached epidemic proportions.  Communities across the country are facing the same problems – no one is better off than another especially when you combine economic trends post 2000 with 2008-2009’s economic climate of foreclose disaster, auto industry financial challenges, and wall street meltdown.

The American Community Survey “provides a mid-decade snapshot of every community with at least 20,000 residents.” “Census takers interview 3 million households a year for the survey, which produces annual data for geographical areas with populations of 65,000 or more. For areas with at least 20,000 people, the survey produces three-year averages.”

Findings of the American Community Survey listed in the article were (excerpted):

  • “Median household income dropped in 79 percent of the cities and towns. Incomes dropped in the wealthiest communities as well as the poorest. Charleston, Ill., home to Eastern Illinois University, saw the biggest drop – 31 percent – to a median household income of just under $21,000.”
  • “Nationally, incomes dropped by 4.3 percent during the period, to $50,007.”
  • “The poverty rate increased in 70 percent of the cities and towns. Athens, Ohio, home to Ohio University, had the highest poverty rate, at 52.3 percent, in the 2005-2007 period.”
  • “Nationally, the poverty rate increased from 12.4 percent to 13.3 percent since the start of the decade.”
  • “The unemployment rate increased in 71 percent of the cities and towns. Muskegon, Mich., a city of about 40,000 near Lake Michigan, had the highest unemployment rate, at 22.1 percent.”
  • “Nationally, the unemployment rate increased from about 4 percent in 2000 to 6.6 percent in the 2005-2007 period.”

Above details cited from CBS article.

Signs of Poverty

In “Planning Analysis – Poverty in Maplewood” I wrote that the information provided was to communicate that poverty exists in the world around us, and in our Maplewood community.” I just wanted to establish that some people living in the community face this issue.

Today poverty is visible through economic hardship and is pervasive. If you listen to the media or speak with a friend, people reveal that this economic crisis has touched their lives directly or indirectly.  A recent Maplewood Township Press Release touches on this – “Maplewood to Layoff Police & Firefighters.”

I would argue differently than I did in my initial post about what poverty looks like in our community.  It is still true that one can’t judge the face of poverty in Maplewood based on race, or household type, or ethnicity, but things have changed.  This March 2009 – poverty is visible through not just student participation levels (student participation in the range of activities in our school district) it is visible with regard to homes going up for sale and job search services being offered at the local libraries (due to increasing unemployment rates), and through the food drives being hosted for struggling families by our libraries.

© 2010 W. S. Hughes


2 Comments Add yours

  1. spoguiguete says:

    I highly enjoyed reading your post, keep up creating such interesting stuff!

  2. Resident Planning Geek says:

    Thank you! I’ve closed this site off regarding new content but will continue blogging on new content on my site

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