A recent survey partly funded by the state suggests the number of Ohioans living in poverty has climbed to 17 percent, up five percentage points since 1998.
The Health Policy Institute of Ohio surveyed 40-thousand households for the report, which also found one in five Ohio children are living below the poverty line. State welfare rolls are at their lowest levels in 40 years. Although welfare changes are designed to help people become more self-sufficient, they haven't been able to keep up with the lagging economy. Managers at Ohio food pantries, free clinics and churches say they're not surprised by the spike because they've seen rising client numbers for the past few years.
Nurse coordinator Katie Clark says the Physicians Free Clinic used to see 20 or 30 people on a busy night in 1993 but now they're up to more than 100 and have to turn people away.