Lake County, in central northern Michigan, is the poorest part of the state, with nearly half of its children living in poverty. That’s according to the latest Kids Count data. So Jennifer Guerra with our State of Opportunity project went north to visit the rural county to see what life is like there for families.
The county is an area rich in natural beauty, with hundreds of lakes and streams and acres of forest land, but it's very short on job opportunities.
Mary Trucks is executive director of Five Cap, a non-profit agency serving low-income residents. She says Lake County seems to "attract the very old and very young, so what we do not have is a very large labor force that would attract industry." What's left, she says, is a county with a “systemic poverty condition.”
Zach Smith, 24, is the proud father of two little girls, and he and his fiancee have another little baby on the way. He and his family live in the Lake County town of Baldwin. He says "if you really want to have a bright future, I don’t think Baldwin’s the place to stay because there’s just not a lot here." He's hoping to save enough money to move him and his family out of Lake County for good.
To hear more about what life is like for families living in rural poverty, click here.