Editorials

Right here is the No. 1 town in the nation — for poverty

Southern Illinois city named poorest in U.S.

Poverty, income, house values and education from U.S. Census estimates are used to rank U.S. cities. A local city ranked as the nation's poorest in 2015 and again in 2016, according to the 24/7 Wall St. news service, a part of USA Today.
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Poverty, income, house values and education from U.S. Census estimates are used to rank U.S. cities. A local city ranked as the nation's poorest in 2015 and again in 2016, according to the 24/7 Wall St. news service, a part of USA Today.

We sure enjoy trumpeting all those “No. 1 in the nation” accolades for the local art festival, but there’s another top ranking for a neighboring community: No. 1 in the nation for poverty.

And this was the second year in a row.

Centreville, IL, tops the list as ranked by 24/7 Wall St., a partner of USA Today, using the annual estimates made by the U.S. Census Bureau. The ranking was because Centreville had four stats that are worthy of despair.

Centreville was estimated to have slightly more than half of its residents living in poverty. Just fewer than 1 in 10 adults possess a college degree. Median household income was $16,715. Median home value was $48,400.

There were other local communities with at least 1,000 residents that were as bad or worse than Centreville, but the ranking only used estimates that were at least within 10 percent of being accurate. For example, Alorton’s college grad rate estimate was possibly more than 15 percent off, so it wasn’t ranked.

Centreville, Alorton, Washington Park and Brooklyn residents all live with grinding poverty. But the irony is that they also all live with the holy grails of development — proximity to a major population center and interstate access. Centreville has not only Interstate 255, but the four-lane Illinois 15 corridor on which to capitalize.

But instead of car dealers and big box retailers, they get strip clubs.

We all know how they got that way. What we should be asking our elected leaders is why they are allowed to stay that way?

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