Circles of Mercy Focuses on Poverty, Quality of Life and Healthcare Issues.  There continues to be a profound need to help women and women with children, many of whom struggle to meet basic needs.  The following statistical information is taken from the 2010 US Census ACS Survey:


  • Rensselaer’s population is 9,392 persons and has 4,376 households (which is 21.02% growth increase over what the level was in 2000)
  • The most prevalent race in Rensselaer is white, race totals (percentages) are:  White: 7,537 (80.25%); Black: 750 (7.99%); Hispanic: 448 (4.77%); Asian: 576 (6.13%); Native 81 (0.33%)
  • Population in Poverty 1,630 (17.85%), which is higher than state average of 14.16% and the national average of 13.82%
  • Families in Poverty 307 (14.64%), which is higher than the state average of 10.76% and the national average of 10.08%
  • The percentage of “All People” below the Federal Poverty Level in Rensselaer is 19.0%, with the amount of Children (under 18 years of age ) at 37.7%
  • The Per Capita Income of Rensselaer is $27,073, which is lower than the state average of $30,948; but is about the same as the national average of $27,334
  • There are 1,134 households (25.9%) living below the income level of $24,999; with 1,377 (31.4%) collecting Social Security; 842 (19.2%) retirement income, 241 (5.5%) collecting SSI; 111 (2.5%) on cash public assistance/TANF; and 621 (14.2%) collecting food stamps/SNAP.

Quality of Life

  • Over 53.10% of the residents live in renter-occupied housing, federally subsidized housing or in private housing with Section 8 Assistance (paying average rents of 4% to 10% higher than state or nationwide renters).  There continues to be a shortage of low-income housing.
  • Rensselaer school education is rated “average” a level that is lower than the state and national rankings.  In 2011 the graduation rate was 60.4%, with a dropout rate of 24%.   Of the approximate 1,240 Rensselaer students who attended school, 53% qualify for either free or reduced price lunch programs.  We continue to be surprised to learn that so many children (1 out of 3) or 33% live near or below the poverty level, which is much higher than the national average of 23%.  Sixteen percent of the city population does not have a high school diploma.
  • Sixty-Nine percent of the population is in the work force consisting of 1,587 females (66.82%) and 1,060 males (40.58%).  The majority are employed in areas of retail, hotel and healthcare; performing services, sales or office occupations (averages which are higher than the state or national levels), but most are earning minimum or just above minimum hourly wages.
  • The clients who are served by Circles of Mercy are the “working poor”.  Many individuals lack sufficient education or skills to obtain good employment with salaries and benefits high enough to provide adequately for their families.
  • The crime rate in the City of Rensselaer is higher than the state crime rate average, but is lower than the national crime rate average.

Health Care

  • The largest medical provider in the City of Rensselaer is a primary health clinic run by St. Peter’s Healthcare Partners, serving a high proportion of Medicaid patients.
  • Due to the “working poor” population, many don’t have an income adequate enough to purchase any type of health insurance.
  • The St. Peter’s Healthcare clinic in addition to providing medical care, treatments and medications to patients with insurance also has a “Charity Care” program to assist any uninsured patients.
  • Fidelis Care New York, a Medicaid and Medicare insurance program managed by all of the Catholic Dioceses in New York State, is also available to clients through the insurance registration and referral site services offered at Circles of Mercy.