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Study finds one in seven Franklin County residents live in poverty

Danielle Sydnor
A recent study has determined that one in seven residents in Franklin County is living in poverty.

A new study found one in seven Franklin County residents are living in poverty and gives a clearer picture about what the economic disparities are in Ohio's most populous county.

The study by the RISE Together Innovation Institute found while poverty has declined since 2021, almost 200,000 of the county's 1.3 million residents are living in poverty. The study found Black, Hispanic, Asian and immigrant residents experience poverty at higher rates, but most of the Franklin County residents who are struggling are white.

The results of the study were announced Tuesday with the Franklin County Board of Commissioners at the YWCA in Columbus.

RISE Together CEO Danielle Sydnor said the statistics are alarming and show the need to address child poverty to reduce the number of people experiencing poverty later in life. Sydnor previously led the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP before being hired as CEO of RISE Together in 2021.

"If we are going to have future generations of people who are more prosperous and can take advantage of opportunity in our community, we've got to reduce the number of kids that are experiencing poverty," Sydnor said.

Sydnor said she intends for the study to help inform the future work done by her group, but they also plan to provide the data to government, business leaders and other decision makers to inform programs that try to assist impoverished people. She said she hopes the data helps everyday people realize how complex poverty is and change perceptions about who is impoverished.

"So much of our reporting and so much of our media talks about the disproportionate nature of the issues in our community, we often leave behind people that don't fit the narrative of who we think is in poverty," Sydnor said.

Sydnor also said people tend to relegate poverty to unhoused people or people standing on street corners asking for financial assistance, but the data shows the issue is much more broad.

"If you are in a room of people, if you have seven folks in that room, one person is potentially experiencing poverty. And so to ground us with this information that there are lots of people among us in the community that we interact with every day, that are kind of invisibly dealing with these issues is something that we think is pretty profound," Sydnor said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.