By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Fresno, Los Angeles Among Nation’s Neediest Cities

With the giving season reminding us to be selfless and 37 million people in the U.S. lacking access to adequate food, the personal-finance website WalletHub followed up on its report on the Most Charitable States for 2023 with an in-depth look at 2022’s Neediest Cities.

Hoping to inspire goodwill toward the less fortunate, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 28 key metrics to determine where Americans are most economically disadvantaged. The data set includes factors like the child poverty rate, food-insecurity rate and uninsured rate.


Neediest Cities

Topping the list, coming in at number one, was Detroit, Michigan. Brownsville, Texas was number two, followed by Cleveland, OH; Gulfport, MS; Fresno, CA; Laredo, TX; Philadelphia, PA; New Orleans, LA; Los Angeles, CA; and, coming in as the 10th neediest city, Shreveport, LA.

Taking up the 11th through 20th spots on the list were: Augusta, GA, 11th; Birmingham, AL; Newark, NJ; St. Louis, MO; Fort Smith, AR; Indianapolis, IN; Baltimore, MD; Toledo, OH; Jackson, MS; and Corpus Christi, TX, coming in at number 20.


Key Stats

Pearl City, Hawaii, has the lowest child poverty rate, 3.28 percent, which is 14.7 times lower than in Rochester, New York, the city with the highest at 48.23 percent.

Pearl City, Hawaii, has the lowest adult poverty rate, 4.17 percent, which is 7.4 times lower than in Huntington, West Virginia, the city with the highest at 30.77 percent.

Overland Park, Kansas, has the fewest homeless persons (per 1,000 residents), 0.30, which is 77.8 times fewer than in Fresno, California, the city with the most at 23.35.

South Burlington, Vermont, has the lowest unemployment rate, 1.50 percent, which is 5.3 times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest at 7.90 percent.

South Burlington, Vermont, has the lowest share of uninsured residents, 1.80 percent, which is 17.1 times lower than in Brownsville, Texas, the city with the highest at 30.70 percent.


To view the full report, visit:


Expert Commentary

How has the composition of people in need (age, race, gender, etc.) changed in recent decades?

“Over the last 50 years, the composition of those considered ‘poor’ (below Federal Guidelines) have been immigrants, the elderly (before the indexing of Social Security), children, members of minority groups especially those of color, and more recently those with physical or emotional disabilities. While poverty has existed in every region and location, urban and rural, in recent years it has been concentrated more in large cities where a significant part of the population was of color, large families, recent immigrants, and the homeless. The pandemic ushered in large and new influxes of government money referred to as stimulus payments. The largest and most significant of these programs was the Child Tax Credit – government dollars that went directly to families based on the number of children and those living below the poverty line which was expanded.”

Phil Coltoff – Senior Fellow, New York University Silver School of Social Work; Former CEO of the Children’s Aid Society of New York


“The poverty rate (10-15 percent) and composition of who is in need have remained unchanged in recent decades. U.S. poverty rates fluctuate from year-to-year, and although poverty has been on a downward trend in the last decade, certain groups continue to be disproportionately affected by poverty, including children under 18 years and individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC).”

Lauren A. Hall – Assistant Research Director, University of Maryland


How can charities and nonprofits most effectively serve the poor?

“Charitable organizations and non-profits can play an active supplementary role to help reduce child poverty. They cannot achieve what only Government has the resources to do. Those that advocate for non-profits to fill the void are sadly misguided. So, what can non-profits do? Firstly, direct programs to those most in need by collaborating with public schools (community schools), faith-based organizations, tenant groups, trade unions, and local government to increase efforts to address the needs of poor children and their families. These outreach services include among others, foster care prevention, family therapy, voter registration, transportation services, and certification and distribution of Section 8 housing. These are the adjunctive and supportive services that the non-profit world can provide in ways that will help to raise the living standards for poor children and their families.”

Phil Coltoff – Senior Fellow, New York University Silver School of Social Work; Former CEO of the Children’s Aid Society of New York


What should be the main focus of local authorities when outlining a strategy to help people in need in the high inflation context?

“Local authorities can create strategies to help deal with inflation…During the Pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) became a lifeline for local communities translated into the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program (SLFRF), leading to consistent local spending on services and operations, according to the National League of Cities. Much of this revenue (38 percent) went to government employee wages or hiring. Other spending for programming, representing 57 percent) went to housing support, nutrition and food support, and youth and family programming. Through these APRA programs, local governments have been able to avoid devastating layoffs and still meet their basic citizen obligations during the Pandemic. In addition, there are more than half a million homeless in America, mostly in cities. The best thing we can do to help these homeless individuals is called Housing First where a local government or nonprofit prioritizes housing for the homeless, allowing them stability and subsequently empowerment to pursue personal goals and increase quality of life as well as their life chances. Housing first is a policy approach is based on the belief that people need the basics essentials like food and shelter before they can seek other less important activities, such as obtaining a job or drug addiction services. Local governments can also push more community health centers, which (are) government-funded centers that provide free and reduced-cost medical and dental care, they are listed at”

John Wood, Ph.D. – Professor and MPA Co-coordinator, University of Central Oklahoma