Economy & Business
2:56 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Why Many Black Men in Milwaukee Can't Get Out of Poverty

UWM researcher David Pate says on average black men in Milwaukee carry a disproportionate amount of debt, compared to their white peers.
UWM researcher David Pate says on average black men in Milwaukee carry a disproportionate amount of debt, compared to their white peers.
Credit Photos.com

The latest census figures paint a fairly bleak picture for Milwaukee.

About 27 percent of its residents are living below the poverty line. 

That's defined by the federal government as having an annual income below $23,492 - $64 a day - but that's for a family of four. It's even less for a single, noncustodial adult. 

We've been talking about poverty versus wealth with the help of the UWM associate professor of social welfare David Pate. 

He says these statistics are concerning because of how hard it is to get out of poverty.  A person on the brink is often unable to attain any assets to draw upon in an emergency, and then starts to rack up debt - debt, Pate says, that's almost impossible to get rid of. 

The situation is especially dire for the city's black men, he says, who accumulate a disproportionate amount of debt. 

To help us put the situation in context, he invited Anne Price from the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative for this edition of "Real Talk with David Pate .”

Pate says many black Milwaukee men struggle to get out of debt - and out of poverty.

"You’ll find that these men have special circumstances that account for them being further impoverished than women that I think are really unique and very important to talk about in Milwaukee and Wisconsin," he says.

David Pate is an associate professor at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at UWM - and he's the founder of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, and our "Real Talk" contributor. We also spoke with Anne E. Price from the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative at the Insight Center in California. They spoke with Stephanie Lecci.

Our October conversation will look at the connection between debt and child support.