A new report on poverty in Ohio highlights three areas of pressing need

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOUB/Report for America) — Low-income Ohioans are falling behind despite the state’s improving economic prospects, according to the 2023 State of Poverty in Ohio report.

The report, issued by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies Monday, identifies three major areas requiring immediate attention: learning loss in K-12 schools, mental health and transportation.

Executive Director Philip Cole said the lack of resources in these areas disproportionately impacts low-income families.

“Society has the resources to keep people out of poverty and become economically self-sufficient, but all too often, we do not ensure equal or even fair access to those resources,” Cole said.

The 2023 State of Poverty in Ohio report.
The 2023 State of Poverty in Ohio report. [Theo Peck-Suzuki | WOUB/Report for America]
The report, which draws on data from the US Census and a number of other sources, states economically disadvantaged students fared worse than their peers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, due in part to broadband access and food costs.

It also highlights the scarcity of mental health care options in many counties and calls for greater investment in public transportation. Funding for public transit in Ohio is currently just one-tenth the national average.

Consequently, people rely on private vehicles, which are expensive to own and maintain.

While the state is looking at a boom in advanced manufacturing and other jobs in the near future, those jobs may be out of reach for those without reliable transportation.

“We need to enable people to get to work,” said Cole.

But he said Ohio’s expanding economy could benefit low-income residents – if the issues in the report are addressed.