A new study recently released by MassBudget found that some of the poorest communities are located in the Pioneer Valley. Almost 20,000 children are living in poverty in Hampden County, compared to 10,000 in Suffolk County.
Poverty is regional,” explained Stephen Huntley, the executive director of Valley Opportunity Council. “The poverty here in western Massachusetts isn’t close to the poverty in Boston. It’s very different. Our economy isn’t nearly as strong or as diverse as it is in the eastern part of the state.”
The study also found that people living in poverty here in western Massachusetts face different challenges, like easy access to public transportation.
“If I’m coming across town, and I have to make 2 or 3 transfers, and I have children, and I have an appointment, I’m likely to get to the appointment late.,” said Dr. Frank Robinson, VP of Public Health, Baystate Medical Center. “If I’m late, then my appointment will be taken, and I don’t get the healthcare I need.”
Dr. Robinson also told 22News that access to healthy food is a challenge, because there aren’t grocery stores in many impoverished neighborhoods.
The study reports that Massachusetts is a high-cost state, and improving policies – like minimum wage and education – will help people get out of poverty.