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Reading Ranked 2nd in Poorest American Cities

By Jennifer Joas, Reporter, JJoas@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 19 2013 09:32:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 19 2013 11:17:30 PM CDT

Just two years ago, Reading earned the dubious title of poorest city in the U.S.

READING, Pa. -

Just two years ago, Reading earned the dubious title of poorest city in the U.S. Last year, it appeared that the city might be turning things around. But new poverty statistics for this year show that Reading is once again heading in the wrong direction.

"Aww man, it is very very bad. Very bad," said Reading resident Angel Velez.

That is Angel Velez describing the streets of Reading.

"I like my job but I feel bad for other people that cannot afford to pay the rent, they are homeless.
And you know, the drugs, the crime," said Velez.

Reading topped the list of Poorest Cities in America in 2011. But in 2012, it gained some ground coming in at number 6.

"For a while, the crime had gone down when there were some jobs available," said Reading resident Nate Marshall.

The poverty rate went from 40.1% to 40.5%, pushing Reading into the number two spot for the poorest city in America.

"Money is the key, it is the root. If you do not have money you are in trouble and we do not have money up here anymore. We need jobs. We need people to start bringing work back into the city instead of taking it out of the city," said Marshall.

While some argue that more jobs are needed, others in Reading say people need to have a drive to work hard.

"I wish there were things that we could do to help people that do not have enough money to put food on the table or to have a roof over their head. But what can we do for people that do not want to help themselves," said Reading worker Marybel Rivera.

The Mayor of Reading says the city has good organizations to help provide people with food and shelter. He says the city will continue to work to bring more businesses and jobs into the area. But he says fighting poverty will continue to be struggle in Reading.

"You get up every day and you have nothing to do so you are almost forced to do what you have to do to survive," said Marshall.