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"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

Johnstown is considered the poorest city in Pennsylvania, according to an article published in 24/7 Wall Street. The city earned this designation due to low median incomes ($25,542 vs. $52,548), high poverty rates (26.8%), and low educational attainment of bachelor’s degrees (11.2% vs. 27.5%).

This offers just a glimpse into the significant need for Catholic Charities’ offerings in Cambria County and the surrounding eight-county area that we serve. 

Astonishing statistics from within our eight-county service area include:

• Significant housing insecurity in all counties due to high rental costs and percentage of income used to pay for housing. It is most acute in Centre, Blair, and Clinton Counties, with 1 in 5 people in Centre County experiencing severe housing problems. The average wage needed to rent a 2-bedroom apartment in Centre County is $17.10/hour, and in Clinton County it is $13.58/hour. Centre County also has the lowest available housing stock for extremely low income renters, with 25 out of 100 available units.

• Food insecurity rates ranging from 12 to 14% among the eight counties. For children, this rate increases to 17 to 23%. In all counties except for Centre, more than 1 in 5 children are food insecure, with the highest rate in Bedford County at 23%.

• Cambria County has the worst County Health Ranking for 2015 by a Robert Wood Johnson study (#60 out of 67 Pennsylvania counties). Blair County ranked #48 and Somerset ranked #46.

• Cambria County has the most individuals aged 18 to 64 years living with a disability (14%), among the eight counties.

• Blair County has the highest enrollment in SNAP (food stamp) benefits at 16.7%, among the eight counties.

• Home foreclosures being the highest in Blair County, with 168 in 2015.

Quick jump to: Bedford | Blair | Cambria | Centre | Clinton |Huntingdon | Somerset

Bedford County
Bedford County is one of only two counties in our service area expected to lose population in the next 30 years. Aging demographics are prominent here, as well as in Somerset and Cambria Counties, where the average age in 2010 was 43-44 years. More than a quarter of the 65+ population is currently enrolled in PACE.

Despite having an aging population, Bedford County has the highest rate of food insecurity for children within the eight-county service area at a rate of 23%, and more than one in five children live in poverty. 21.7% of households here are considered low income, with 13.7% living with disability and 8.9% being unemployed. With the average rent being $598, nearly half of renters pay more than 30% of their incomes toward housing.

Significant Statistics for Bedford County:
Population < 5 years = 5%
Population > 65 years = 20.5%
Average rent = $598
Renters paying more than 30% of income toward housing = 46.7%
Low income households = 21.7%
Poverty rate for children = 20.2%
65+ population enrolled in PACE = 25.5%
Population participating in SNAP = 13.5%
Population 18-64 with disability = 13.7%
Unemployment = 8.9%

Quick jump to: Blair | Cambria | Centre | Clinton |Huntingdon | Somerset

Blair County
Among the counties that Catholic Charities serves, Blair County has the highest enrollment in SNAP (food stamp) benefits at 16.7%. Childhood poverty is significant in the county, with more than one in five children living in poverty. Blair County also has one of the worst county health rankings in the state, as determined by a Robert Wood Johnson study (ranking #48 out of 67 counties). 

Home foreclosures are also highest here, with 168 in 2015, making Blair County one of the top counties in our service area facing housing insecurity. The average rent in the county is $655, with nearly half of all renters paying more than 30% of their incomes toward housing. The median age of housing stock is among the oldest in our service area, with 63% of homes being built before 1970 and a median home age of 1954.

Significant statistics for Blair County:
Population < 5 years = 5.5%
Population > 65 years = 19.3%
Average rent = $655
Renters paying more than 30% of income toward housing = 47.9%
Low income households = 21.5%
Poverty rate for children = 24%
65+ population enrolled in PACE = 22%
Population participating in SNAP = 16.7%
Population 18-64 with disability = 12.9%
Unemployment = 6.7%

Quick jump to: Bedford | Cambria | Centre | Clinton |Huntingdon | Somerset

Cambria County
Cambria County has one of the worst county health ranking for 2015 by a Robert Wood Johnson study (ranking #60 out of 67 Pennsylvania counties). The county also has the most individuals aged 18 to 64 years living with a disability within Catholic Charities’ service area, at 14%, and one of the highest childhood poverty rates, with more than one in five children living in poverty.

Among our service area, Cambria County has one of the oldest populations. Combined with Bedford and Somerset Counties, where aging demographics are also prominent, the average age was 43-44% in 2010. Nearly a quarter of the 65+ population is currently enrolled in PACE. Cambria County also has the oldest homes in our region, where the median building age is 1951 and 70% of houses were built before 1970.

Significant statistics for Cambria County:
Population < 5 years = 4.9%
Population > 65 years = 20.4%
Average rent = $551
Renters paying more than 30% of income toward housing = 43.6%
Low income households = 23%
Poverty rate for children = 23%
65+ population enrolled in PACE = 23%
Population participating in SNAP = 15.9%
Population 18-64% with disability = 14%
Unemployment = 5.6%

Quick jump to: Bedford | Blair | Centre | Clinton |Huntingdon | Somerset

Centre County
One in five people in Centre County experience severe housing problems, where the average wage needed to rent a two-bedroom apartment is $17.10/hour. The average rent in the county is $982. Centre County also has the lowest available housing stock for extremely low income renters—only 25 out of every 100 available units. 

Despite having minimal housing options for low-income renters, the population in Centre County is expected to grow in the next 30 years, potentially significantly increasing the need for human services and other community resources.

Significant statistics for Centre County:
Population < 5 years = 4.1%
Population > 65 years = 12.4%
Average rent = $982
Renters paying more than 30% = 58.2%
Low income households = 20.6%
Poverty rate for children = 14%
65+ population enrolled in PACE = 12.9%
Population participating in SNAP = 5.2%
Population 18-24 with disability = 6.7%
Unemployment = 5.6%

Quick jump to: Bedford | Blair | Cambria | Clinton |Huntingdon | Somerset

Clinton County
Clinton County is one of top three counties in our service area facing housing insecurity in our service area, where the average rent is $717 and nearly half of all renters pay more than 30% of their incomes toward housing. 

While the county has one of the lowest home foreclosure rates in our region, with just 31 in 2015, it also has one of the lowest available housing stocks for extremely low renters at just 25-40 for every 100 units. Residents here also face significant food insecurity, meaning that they have limited or uncertain access to adequate food. In Clinton County, more than one in five children live in food insecure households.

Significant statistics for Clinton County:
Population < 5 years = 5.5%
Population > 65 years = 17.2%
Average rent = $717
Renters paying more than 30% of income toward housing = 47.5%
Low income households = 22.9%
Poverty rate for children = 22%
65+ population enrolled in PACE = 24%
Population participating in SNAP = 12.8%
Population 18-64% with disability = 11.9%
Unemployment = 8.6%

Quick jump to: Bedford | Blair | Cambria | Centre | Huntingdon | Somerset

Huntingdon County
In our eight-county service area, unemployment in Huntingdon County is among the most severe at 9.4%. A large number of residents face housing insecurity due to rental costs, with 42% of renters paying more than 30% of their income toward housing. The average rent in the county is $562.

Children in Huntingdon County are especially vulnerable, with 21% living in poverty. Among Catholic Charities’ eight-county service area, food insecurity for children ranges from 17 to 23%. This means that more than 1 in 5 children have limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

Significant statistics for Huntingdon County:
Population < 5 years = 4.5%
Population > 5 years = 18.7%
Average rent = $562
Renters paying more than 30% of their income toward housing = 42.7%
Low income households = 20.4%
Poverty rate for children = 21%
65+ population enrolled in PACE = 23%
Population participating in SNAP = 13.1%
Population 18-64 with disability = 13.6%
Unemployment = 9.4%

Quick jump to: Bedford | Blair | Cambria | Centre | Clinton | Somerset

Somerset County
In our eight-county service area, unemployment in Somerset County is among the most severe at 9%. A large number of residents face housing insecurity due to rental costs, with 42% of renters paying more than 30% of their income toward housing. The average rent in the county is $564. 

The county is also expected to lose population in the next 30 years, as aging demographics are on the rise with the average age in 2010 being 43-44. This contributes to Somerset County being among the counties with the worst health rankings in the state, ranking #46 out 67 counties by a Robert Wood Johnson study. Additionally, a quarter of all current residents over age 65 are enrolled in PACE.

Significant statistics for Somerset County:
Population < 5 years = 4.4%
Population > 65 years = 20.4%
Average rent = $564
Renters paying more than 30% of income toward housing = 42.9%
Low income households = 21.1%
Poverty rate for children = 19%
65+ population enrolled in PACE = 25%
Population participating in SNAP = 12.8%

Quick jump to: Bedford | Blair | Cambria | Centre | Clinton |Huntingdon 


While some of these figures are astonishing, community resources like Catholic Charities make a life-changing impact for the most vulnerable in our region. We rely on your support to help us provide emergency financial assistance and other resources to families, the elderly, and unemployed, underemployed, and disabled individuals who are facing financial crisis--as well as hard-working individuals who are struggling to make ends meet--right here in our community.

Click here to make your gift to help a neighbor in need.

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