Wapato ranked poorest city in state of Washington - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wapato ranked poorest city in state of Washington

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WAPATO, WA - With more than one third of the population living in poverty, Wapato was ranked as the poorest city in the state of Washington by Organization 24-7 Wall Street. It was a distinction that caught Wapato Mayor Tony Guzman by surprise.

"I knew we had poverty," Guzman said, "but not to that extent, that it is the number one city."

The study only ranked cities with a population between 1,000 and 25,000. Wapato has a little more than 5,000 people. It then compared the household median income of each city with the states. In Wapato, it is a little more than $30,000, and in the state of Washington, it's slightly higher than $60,000. One of the reasons why Wapato was named as the poorest city was because of jobs; most of them are in agriculture and don't pay very well.

"We are basically agriculturally-based," said Guzman. "We have the farms and the warehouses and that's basically it, other than what we have out at the industrial park."

Another reason is a lack of business in town, but Guzman says they're trying to change that. Soon, two new restaurants will be coming to town and a dollar store will be opening its doors in the fall, employing between 10 and 15. A new housing development will be built and a new elementary school is under construction.

"Wapato is getting better," Guzman said. "It is progressing, it is going to take a little bit of time, but I can see that it will get a lot better."