Poverty in Cincinnati

Cincinnati has a massive problem with persistent poverty. According to U.S. Census data and the Ohio Development Agency’s Ohio Poverty Report in 2018, 29.9% of Cincinnatians live in poverty – that’s more than 85,000 individuals. Nationally, Cincinnati is among the top 15 poorest cities in the country with a population of 250,000 or more compared to a national poverty rate of 14%, and Ohio-wide rate of less than 15%. This means that approximately one in three Cincinnatians fall below the poverty line, and our city’s poverty rate is almost twice the national average. 

Recognizing the need to reverse the trend of poverty in Cincinnati, five non-profit organizations and local churches came together to consider best-in-class means to build relationships, build infrastructure and integrate services. In Cincinnati, this collaboration was unprecedented.

Collectively, while the founding organizations serve hundreds of people annually, they found that their attempts to coordinate services often fell short because clients found it difficult to navigate between services. One example is a Crossroad Health Center client, Sheila, who came in for treatment of a debilitating disease but had multiple factors also at work: job loss, depression and potential eviction. Dr. Dave Rahner, the Medical Director of Crossroad Health Center, found that while diseases can be treated, factors like unemployment, stressful living situations and substance abuse play an enormous role in overall mental health.


The poverty level is the official measure used to decide eligibility for federal health, housing, nutrition and child care benefits. While it differs by family size and makeup, for a family of four with two children, the poverty level is $24,300. View the 2017 federal poverty guidelines.