Haywood City residents' median income ranks lowest in area
By Andrea L. Buchanan ~ Southeast Missourian
HAYWOOD CITY, Mo. -- Once nicknamed "The Sands," because of its naturally occurring soft-sand roads, Haywood City has little else to set it apart from other rural villages in Missouri's Bootheel.
But census figures have given it a new distinction: the poorest community in four counties.
Mobile homes mingle with small, single-story houses. Neatly trimmed yards share the neighborhood with plots covered with rusted automobiles.
According to 2000 census figures, the median household income of Haywood City is $14,000 a year, the lowest in four counties.
But that represents a significant increase over 1990 census figures, in which $8,453 was the average household income.
Still, according to Health and Human Services figures for the year 2000, the poverty threshold for a family of three is about $17,050 annually.
Haywood City Mayor Johnny Avance said a number of factors contribute to the village's poverty level.
Size is one. The city-limits sign gives the population as 239, but Avance said the figure is probably slightly higher.
The age of residents is another factor, he said.
"We have quite a few elderly people relying solely on Social Security for income," Avance said.
Avance, who moved to Haywood City as a child in 1967, has been mayor for about five years, he said. He works in Aquila.
The town has two day cares and a tiny candy store, but most people with jobs work in Sikeston, Cape Girardeau or Bloomfield.
Gradually the town is improving, he said. A new water and sewer system is scheduled to be complete June 17.
Sometimes the town's topography works to residents' advantage.
The sandy conditions -- often a nuisance to those who want to open their windows on hot days -- came in handy recently when other area towns flooded.
The sand soaked up most of the moisture and left homeowners relatively dry.
"Sometimes it all works out," Avance said.
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