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Oakland Co. Execs Debate Charity Over Poverty Report

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PONTIAC (WWJ) – There’s a dispute brewing in Oakland County between a local charitable organization and county executives — over a report that says poverty is on the rise in the county and social services are not readily available.

Lighthouse of Oakland County released the report, which they say reveals the number of people living in poverty has gone up.

“We looked at the Census Bureau’s estimate of the number of families in poverty back in 2005 and their estimate of the number of families in poverty today, and it represents a growth of nearly 75 percent,” says John Ziraldo, CEO of Lighthouse.

But Irene Spanos, Oakland County’s director of economic development and community affairs, says, “We’re seeing some inconsistency as to the source of where they got those numbers. But we are in the process of putting together a response for that.”

County execs say they also dispute a claim in the report that says there are no social services to help those in need.

“The fact that the survey said there are no services for our lower income families, that is not true,” says Spanos.

Meanwhile, Ziraldo says the county is focusing on other numbers.

“The county’s critique seems to look at the change in the rate or concentration of poverty in the community,” says Ziraldo.

And Ziraldo says the dispute over social services is about how far those who need assistance have to travel within the county to get help.

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