When one looks about and takes in the bustling commercial activity of Otsego County during the busy tourist season and anticipates the impending return of the thousands of college students who keep things humming through the “off-season,” one feels confident that Otsego County has a healthy, perhaps even vibrant, economy. And while that may be true, beneath the shiny veneer of commercial success lies a dark reality.
Otsego County, like many of its neighbors, has a poverty problem. According to statistics published by Opportunities for Otsego, Inc., a community action agency actively fighting a local “War on Poverty” since 1966, the poverty rate in Otsego County stood at 13.3 percent as of the census of 2020. Of families with a female head of household and children present, a jaw-dropping 39 percent live in poverty. And in a measurement known as the ALICE threshold, which measures households that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, 29.2 percent of all Otsego County households live below that threshold.