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D3 Reports on Poverty in Southeast Michigan

By Louis Bach, Communications

“Poverty and food access are issues of tremendous importance in southeast Michigan. If you are fortunate enough to not have to face the problem, chances are that one of your neighbors is not so fortunate. We must develop regional approaches to deal with poverty throughout our region.”

– Kurt Metzger, Southeast Michigan Poverty Report

Forgotten Harvest relieves hunger in the Detroit metropolitan community by rescuing surplus, prepared, and perishable food and donating it to emergency food providers. To inform and support Forgotten Harvest’s mission, Data Driven Detroit produced the Southeast Michigan Poverty Report. For the period between 2000 and 2010, D3’s analysis found:

  • Poverty increased throughout the region,
  • The poverty rate for children is higher than that for the general population; for example, the city of Detroit in 2010 had a poverty rate of 37.6% for the general population and 53.6% for children.
  • The population in poverty of Detroit’s suburbs (out-Detroit communities in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties) nearly doubled, increasing the suburban share of metro Detroit’s overall population in poverty from 45 percent to 59.7 percent.
  • Food stamp eligibility more than doubled in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.

The Detroit Free Press, in an article about the D3 report, included these comments from Kurt Metzger:

[Between 2000 and 2010], because of an abrupt drop in housing prices across the region, low-income families were able to move from Detroit “to the first suburban ring,” said Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit and author of the report. Poverty also increased in suburbs that are distant from Detroit, although “it’s often hidden in middle- and higher-income communities (where) families lost jobs, had hours cut or took new jobs at lower pay,” Metzger said… “Poverty and need is no longer a central, core-city issue. It is a regional issue”.

The Free Press listed a number of groups in metro Detroit that seek to address hunger and other essential needs, including Focus: HOPE, Gleaners, the Neighborhood Service Organization, and the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency.

Download Data Driven Report’s poverty and food security report: Southeast Michigan Poverty Report