Chetopa, Kansas, has been named the poorest town in the state, according to a 2023 study by 24/7 Wall St. The median household income in Chetopa is $21,843, compared to the state average of $64,521. Over 66% of households in Chetopa receive SNAP benefits, and the median home value is $74,560.
Chetopa is located in Labette County, Kansas, and has a population of over 1,200 people. The town is known for its timber industry, but the industry has been struggling in recent years. Chetopa has also been hit hard by natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods.
Why is Chetopa’s poverty rate so shocking?
Chetopa is a small town, but it has the highest poverty rate in Kansas. This is surprising for a number of reasons. First, Chetopa is located in a relatively affluent county. Second, Chetopa is home to a number of large employers, including the Chetopa Forest Products mill and the Labette County USD #506 school district. Third, Chetopa has a relatively low cost of living.
Factors contributing to Chetopa’s poverty
There are a number of factors that have contributed to Chetopa’s poverty, including:
- Decline of the timber industry: The timber industry was once the backbone of Chetopa’s economy, but it has declined in recent years. This has led to job losses and economic hardship in Chetopa.
- Natural disasters: Chetopa has been hit hard by natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods. These disasters can cause damage to homes and businesses, and can make it difficult for people to recover financially.
- Limited job opportunities: There are a limited number of job opportunities in Chetopa outside of the timber industry. This can make it difficult for people to find good-paying jobs.
- Lack of education and training: Many people in Chetopa do not have the education and training they need to get good-paying jobs. This is due to a number of factors, including the high dropout rate and the lack of access to higher education opportunities.
- Social problems: Chetopa has a number of social problems, such as poverty, crime, and drug abuse. These social problems can make it difficult for people to find and keep jobs, and can also lead to other problems, such as homelessness and health problems.
Impact of poverty on Chetopa residents
Poverty has a significant impact on the residents of Chetopa. It can make it difficult for people to afford basic necessities, such as food, housing, and healthcare. It can also lead to other problems, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
Poverty can also have a negative impact on the community as a whole. It can make it difficult to attract new businesses and residents, and can lead to a decline in the quality of life.
What can be done?
There are a number of things that can be done to address the poverty in Chetopa. The government can provide financial assistance to businesses and residents, invest in education and training programs, and address social problems. Businesses can create new jobs and invest in the community. Community organizations can provide services to residents and advocate for change.
Here are some specific things that can be done to help Chetopa:
- Invest in education and training: The government and businesses can invest in education and training programs to help people develop the skills they need to get good-paying jobs. This could include programs for high school students, adults who are looking to retrain, and dislocated workers.
- Attract new businesses: The government and community organizations can work to attract new businesses to Chetopa. This could involve offering tax breaks, other financial incentives, and marketing the town’s assets.
- Support small businesses: Small businesses play an important role in the Chetopa economy. The government and businesses can support small businesses by providing loans and other resources.
- Address social problems: The government and community organizations can work to address the social problems that contribute to poverty, such as crime and drug abuse. This could involve providing services to people in need and working to change the conditions that lead to these problems.
- Invest in infrastructure: Chetopa needs to invest in its infrastructure, such as roads and bridges. This would make