Whitewater, Wisconsin, has been named the poorest town in the state, according to a 2023 study by the Center Square. The median household income in Whitewater is $34,563, compared to the state average of $64,869. Over 39% of households in Whitewater receive SNAP benefits, and the median home value is $164,500.
Whitewater is located in Walworth County, Wisconsin, and has a population of over 14,700 people. The town is known for its University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus, but it has also been hit hard by the decline of the manufacturing industry.
Factors contributing to Whitewater’s poverty
There are a number of factors that have contributed to Whitewater’s poverty, including:
- Decline of the manufacturing industry: Whitewater was once a major manufacturing center, but many of its factories have closed in recent decades. This has led to job losses and economic hardship.
- Loss of jobs at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater: The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is the largest employer in Whitewater, but it has cut jobs in recent years. This has also contributed to the town’s economic problems.
- High cost of living: The cost of living in Whitewater is relatively high, compared to other parts of Wisconsin. This is due to a number of factors, including the high cost of housing and transportation.
- Lack of economic diversity: Whitewater is heavily reliant on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the manufacturing industry. This lack of economic diversity makes the town vulnerable to economic shocks.
- Rural location: Whitewater is located in a rural area, which can make it difficult to attract new businesses and residents. Rural areas often have less access to resources and opportunities than urban areas.
Impact of poverty on Whitewater residents
Poverty has a significant impact on the residents of Whitewater. 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 Whitewater. 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 Whitewater:
- 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 Whitewater. 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 Whitewater economy. The government and businesses can support small businesses by providing loans and other resources.
- Improve transportation: Whitewater needs improved transportation options to help people get to work and other resources. This could involve investing in public transportation or making it easier for people to walk and bike.
- Invest in affordable housing: Whitewater needs more affordable housing for its residents. This could involve building new affordable housing units or providing subsidies to help people afford existing housing.
- Support community organizations: Community organizations play a vital role in providing services to residents and advocating for change. The government and businesses can support community organizations by providing funding and other resources.
By working together, the government, businesses, and community organizations can help Whitewater to overcome its challenges and build a better future for its residents.
Whitewater is a town with a rich history and a bright future. However, the town is facing a number of challenges, including poverty. By working together, the government, businesses, and community organizations can help Whitewater to overcome its challenges and build a better future for its residents.