Greensboro, High Point organizations still see great need even as poverty rate declines

Greensboro and High Point are making progress against poverty.

According to a non-profit research company called Brookings, the poverty rate for the Greensboro-High Point metropolitan area is down 2.7 percent from 2016 to 2017, that’s one of the top 10 largest declines for cities in the county.

Even with the progress being made, Greensboro-High Point (15.7 percent) is still above the average rate for 100 largest metro areas (12.4 percent).

People who work directly with those in need also say they are not seeing any changes with requests for assistance.

“A true test in the shift of the poverty rate would be the people who are coming into our doors every day,” said Myron Wilkins, executive director of Greensboro Urban Ministry.

Wilkins says that the need for things like food, shelter and emergency assistance has steadily risen since 2016. In the last three months, they’re seen a spike.

“The actual need of helping people every day is as great as ever, but it does not mean the poverty level isn't going down because sometimes there is a disconnect between what a person is feeling today who is impacted by poverty and what the data is showing.” Wilkins said.

Steve Key, the executive director of Open Door Ministries in High Point, says while he’s excited about the progress he’s not seeing the impact on his clients.

“If you were making $15,000 a year and now you're making $17,000 a year, you're still not seeing a drastic difference,” Key said.

Key says requests for assistance remain constant and the shelter is at capacity more often this year. On Monday morning, they had to turn away four people.

Both men say that if the poverty rate continues to drop, we may eventually see people getting the boost they need. They say to do that there needs to be good paying jobs, affordable housing and access to healthy meals in our communities.