INDIANAPOLIS -- Poverty in many Indiana cities is on the rise, according to a new study.
One of the lead researchers for the local think tank, The Sagamore Institute, is the former police chief for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Troy Riggs.
Riggs said he saw crime and poverty firsthand in his time with IMPD. But he was surprised to see the poverty rates in the state.
The study, released this week, focused on 11 major cities in Indiana. That includes Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Evansville and Bloomington. in all 11 cities, the poverty rate has increased.
An individual is considered to be living in poverty if they make less than $11,000 per year.
In Indianapolis, the poverty rate increased from 11.8 percent in 2000 to 21.3 percent in 2015.
"That equates to over 175,000 Indianapolis residents," Riggs said. "Thirty percent of which are children. I think that should galvanize all of us to do more."
Riggs says Indiana was largely an industry-driven state. And with those agricultural and factory jobs now gone - job loss is one of the leading causes of poverty.
"Let's realize these are human beings," Riggs said. "These are people who are struggling. Right now in the city of Indianapolis we have -- at minimum -- over 175,000 people living in poverty. We have more people than ever living in the city of Indianapolis, but yet, we have more people living in poverty then we've ever had before as well."
In the last 15 years, the city has seen more than 89,000 new residents. During that same timeframe, the number of people in poverty grew by 85,000.
Wheeler Mission is an organization that serves the homeless population of central Indiana.
Steve Kerr, the chief development officer of Wheeler Mission said they primarily see two groups of people coming for food and shelter: A younger population addicted to drugs, and an older population who have just lost their jobs.
"That blue collar is falling way below and that's what drives people to unfortunately become homeless," Kerr said.
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