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Poverty rate rising nearly at same pace of city’s population over 15 years

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - As our communities face challenges with crime, education and hunger, a new study is putting these issues into perspective.

New data from the Sagamore Institute shows poverty in Indianapolis almost increased just as much as the cities population over the past 15 years.

"Between 2000-2015 our city had a robust growth of over 89,000 residents but our poverty growth increased by 85,000 during that same time I quickly realized our city has never had so many people living in it before and it's never had the amount of people living in poverty," Sagamore Institute Vice President Troy Riggs said.

The Sagamore Institute's 2017 Public Good Index revealed the sobering reality. In that 15 year period, the poverty rate in Indianapolis went from 11.8% to 21.3%. Riggs says poverty causes a domino effect, impacting other things like crime and education.

"That means that people are hungry like never before, they're becoming hopeless, they're becoming desperate in many situations and as a result we're hoping that people will rally around fellow Hoosiers and help one another to restore not only their dignity, their source of pride but make them be productive citizens as well," Riggs said.

Gleaners Food Bank is using this data to get into the heart of the communities that need them the most.

"We saw a 60% increase in food distribution in the highest crime neighborhoods in this city that also unfortunately have lower education attainment and other challenges in those neighborhoods," Gleaners CEO, John Elliot said.

And that's just the beginning of the change expected when you address the root of systemic issues like poverty.

"So if we can do our part on hunger and the police can do their part on safety and the schools can do their part on education and so on you start to see a real difference in the neighborhoods with the greatest need," Elliot said.