Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

January 30, 2009


Matt King, Times Herald-Record, Middletown NY - Kiryas Joel is the poorest place in the country. According to the latest round of U.S. Census figures, released late last year, the village has the highest poverty rate in the nation, and the largest percentage of residents who receive food stamps. Only one other place in the 50 states has a lower median income. The median household income in Kiryas Joel is $15,848; in Carbondale, Ill., it's $15,799.

More than two-thirds of Kiryas Joel residents live below the federal poverty line and more than 40 percent receive food stamps, according to the American Community Survey, a U.S. Census Bureau study of every place in the country with 20,000 residents or more.

That makes the village poorer than crumbling big cities like Detroit and noted slums like East St. Louis, and by far the poorest place in the mid-Hudson. . .

Village officials did not return calls seeking comment, but an expert in Hasidic communities said the poverty figures are tied strongly to the village's religious culture and mores.

Pressure to have many children and the demand to send them to expensive private schools, combined with a low number of people who go to college or leave the village to get higher-paying jobs, produces a static and poor society, said Samuel Heilman, professor of Jewish studies at Queens College.

"This is a population that sees childbirth as a sign of high status and for women a fulfillment of their divine and socially sanctioned role in life," Heilman said. "They are also an insular community that see life on the inside superior to the outside."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking at this (as well as the preceding post on poverty rates) I wonder if a few of these numbers are skewed by the presence of a large population of college students (Carbondale, Ill., State College, Pa.).

Carbondale definitely has more than its share of poverty. But it also has a student population equal to that of the permanent one...

January 30, 2009 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every member of this community commits fraud. They have charts which allow them to know exactly what income to report per number of children in the family in order to be eligible for Food Stamps and every other possible benefit. Then they produce a document from the leadership of what is in fact a commune, stating that the breadwinner of the family is a "teacher" at the school on the commune. The salary allegedly paid is exactly what is required to be eligible for the most benefits for the number of children in the family. And so on and so on. The schools they allegedly pay tuition for are really the schools they run on the commune. And we the taxpayers foot the bills. Some of them may in fact work elsewhere off the books in businesses owned by other commune members. Welfare cheats come in all shapes and forms and ethnic backgrounds, and there is in fact, if you speak with these people, a sense of entitlement. Make a rule, any rule, to prevent welfare fraud, and they will commit more fraud to continue doing what they do.

January 31, 2009 5:58 PM  

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