• How compounding poverty is impacting residents in a Mississippi county

    By: Tom Dees


    COAHOMA COUNTY, Miss. - Coahoma County has one of the highest poverty rates in the state of Mississippi.

    Nearly 35 percent of people are living at or below the poverty line. The child poverty rate is slightly higher than 50 percent.

    With a median annual income of around $29,000, it is difficult for many to break the cycle.
    FOX13’s Tom Dees went to Coahoma County to speak with a man who wants to spark change in the community.

    Clarksdale’s Dave Houston runs Kut Kings Barbershop. In the past, he has given free haircuts and backpacks to school-aged children in need. He has also given free meals to families who need it.
    Houston believes things can and will change in the area.

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    “Once we get the jobs to roll in, it will be better for Clarksdale,” Houston told FOX13.

    Clarksdale Commissioner Ken Murphey is a friend of Houston’s. He said that as many as three hundred new jobs are coming to Clarksdale this year – in the form of a call center and another yet-to-be-announced business.

    He hopes the new jobs will help put a dent in the poverty rate. 

    “We are trying to instill some pride in people and give people out there good paying jobs that will make them want to go out there and do better for themselves,” Murphey said.

    City and county leaders told FOX13 the two things people struggle with the most are the cost of groceries and the cost of gas.

    Dave Houston believes compounding the poverty is a lack of competitive business. 

    “Like we can go to Southaven and get a gallon of milk for $1.19, whereas here that same gallon of milk is almost $3,” he said. “We were going to a gas station here. The gas was at 2.46 or 2.56, and in the Town of Marks it was $1.68. That’s extra dollars that people had to pay without the jobs that are coming in, and that is causing people to struggle.” 

    Coahoma County leaders told FOX13 they believe they have found another grocery store that will open in Clarksdale soon, replacing the Kroger that closed in the city almost a year ago. They are not saying what chain it will be.

    Training for the call center will begin next week. FOX13 is told the new call center will open in the next month in the old Chamber of Commerce building.

    FOX13 took a closer look at poverty rates in the Mid-South.

    Shelby County:

    • Poverty rate – almost 19%
    • Child poverty – about 29%
    • Median income – about $49,500

    DeSoto County:

    • Poverty rate – almost 9%
    • Child poverty – almost 13%
    • Median income – more than $66,000

    Crittenden County:

    • Poverty rate – more than 21%
    • Child poverty – almost 32%
    • Median income – about $39,000

    For the full data report, click here.

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