Cameron County ranks as poorest region in country

News Center 23

POSTED: Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 4:48pm

UPDATED: Friday, November 15, 2013 - 9:05am

The official numbers have come out, and the Brownsville-Harlingen metro area has been ranked as the poorest area in the entire country.

City officials expressed their concerns on how education and unemployment likely contributed to this low socio-economic ranking.

"The main problem we have is getting us out of unemployment, because unemployment is still high at ten percent and obviously we can reduce that by educating our workforce and at the same time creating more jobs," said Brownsville deputy city manager Pete Gonzalez.

But with a reported 36 percent of residents living in poverty, opportunity may seem scarce.

Homeless shelters across Cameron County have been experiencing an influx of residents due to a lack of employment in the area.

"We did have a significant amount of folks that were in need of shelter, compare- I think there were about three hundred more than last year," said the Ozanam Center executive director Victor Maldonado.

City officials believe stressing the importance of education to young people may be the only way to get Cameron County out of economic turmoil.

"In terms of what the community can do to help is to encourage our children to complete their education," said assistant city manager Jeff Johnston. "We are pushing our children to finish high school, and then to not stop."

"You're going to have to do your part too," said Ozanam Center resident Theresa Lorian. "You're gonna have to go out and seek work and look and it's not gonna be easy, you know, but just keep looking and keep looking and doors will open for you."

"Go to college, get your education, and then come back, because we want you here. We want your knowledge here," said Johnston.

Reporting in Brownsville, Marty Watson, KVEO News Center 23.

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