The Problem


we are in a food desert…

Not only are we located in a "food desert," but we are also in a low-income/ high-poverty stricken community. We serve the disadvantaged of a disenfranchised and marginalized community. 

We find in our community that most of the people are either unemployed or underemployed, and the food supply in homes usually runs out between pay periods or before the next Food Stamp benefit cycle is renewed.

This often leaves the children and the elderly as the most affected by this epidemic lack of food.  Hunger has proven to be related to children’s lack of focus in school and children exhibiting behavioral issues. It also shows its ugly head in the deterioration of mental and physical health of the elderly.  

Hunger is bigger than just the lack of food. The quality and quantity of food in the home play major roles in the hunger epidemic. There is no other emergency food pantry operating 50 hours per week in our community.

There is a high percent of homelessness in this community, and most shelters only have allowances for overnight stays. People staying in these shelters usually have to leave during the day, so there is a great demand for a day house, a safe place, and a resource center in this community for people in need. The Mercy House provides these services.


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Vacancy Rate

Vacant apartments and homes are a major fact of life in the Washington Park / Gibbs Village Community. The current real estate vacancy rate here is 24.9%. This is higher than the rate of vacancies in 91.0% of all U.S. neighborhoods. In addition, most vacant housing here is vacant year round. This creates a nesting place for homeless people. This is one of many reasons for the high homeless rate in this community.

Average Income

That Washington Park / Gibbs Village Community stands out for having an average per capita income lower than 99.0% of the neighborhoods in the United States. Also of note, 85.8% of the children in this area live in poverty; an extraordinarily high percentage compared to other neighborhoods in the nation.  In a nation where approximately one in four children grows up in poverty, this neighborhood stands out for the depth of the problem manifested here.

Employment Rates

As for employment, 36.2% of the working population is employed in sales and service jobs, from sales accounts to working in fast food restaurants. The second biggest occupational group in this neighborhood is manufacturing and laborer occupations, with 31.0% of the residents employed. Residents employed in executive, management, and professional occupations make up 17.5%, and 15.3% are in clerical, assistant, and tech support occupations.