BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Dr. Henry Taylor, a professor at the University at Buffalo, has spent years researching the lack of improvement in Buffalo's Black community over the last 30 years.
"Blacks are still trending downwards. An entire generation of African Americans have grown up without their standards of living and quality of life improving," Dr. Taylor said.
Dr. Taylor said over the past 31 years, there has been little to no change among Black Buffalonians. He said the average income of a Black household was $39,000 in 1990. In 2019, it was $42,000. The poverty rate of the Black community went from 38% to 35% in the same time frame.
Dr. Taylor said this is directly related to housing.
"55% of the population is spending 30% or more of their income on housing," Dr. Taylor said.
Dr. Taylor points to factors like gentrification, abandoned lots, and a lack of trees.
"Pay attention to the asthma rates and the respiratory rates and how significantly higher they are than Whites. When you see that, think of the absence of a green infrastructure," Dr. Taylor said.
Dr. Taylor said the conditions in these neighborhoods drives financial insecurity.
Education also plays a role. Dr. Taylor said 16% of the Black population in Buffalo has a college degree.
"There is a significant number of Black Buffalonians 25-years of age and older with some college, but no degree," Dr. Taylor said.
Dr. Taylor said this has a big impact on earning potential over time - only 31% of the population has full-time, year round jobs.
"The level of educational attainment keeps them locked in this low wage market. As a result of these labor market dynamics, Blacks will remain in this low wage market. Poverty rates will continue to be high," Dr. Taylor said.
So why has there been no progress over the past 31 years?
"City leaders have never attacked the problem. It's never been a priority," Dr. Taylor said.
His other reasons - policies have harmed the Black community, despite 27 years of liberal, democratic leadership. He said city leaders have put symbolic projects ahead of real change.
"The East Side projects are a story full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," Dr. Taylor said.
But Dr. Taylor said there is still reason to be optimistic.
"It should be a moment of joy and excitement because now, 31 years later, we have an agenda in front of us again," Dr. Taylor said.