EDITORIAL: Remember, those in poverty have needs to fix now
The Poverty Thought Force issued its final report to Mayor Allen Joines and the City Council on Feb. 13. The report includes 56 recommendations for policies that could reduce the poverty level in Winston-Salem, which the group came up with after 15 months of deliberations and community conversations. The group concentrated on five aspects of poverty: education and lifeskills, health and wellness, jobs and workforce development, housing and homelessness and hunger and food insecurity.
One of the suggestions from the group is a “poverty tzar” to help coordinate the efforts needed to reduce poverty in the city.
While the Thought Force was working on ideas, several agencies in Winston-Salem were working on helping individuals climb out of the grip of poverty.
Two such people are known as Mr. and Mrs. Gray. Mrs. Gray spoke to those gathered at the Winter Wonderland fundraising event for Experiment in Self-Reliance (ESR) on Feb. 19.
Mrs. Gray said that she and her husband lost their jobs on the same day.
“ESR has been a great help,” Mrs. Gray said.
She received support and is now a truck driver “making more money than I thought I would make.” Her husband got a bachelor’s degree after going to night school. He is now teaching part-time while working on his master’s degree.
“I just want to say how grateful I am and what a wonderful
opportunity this has been for us, and thank you,” Mrs. Gray said.
ESR helped this couple get back on track to living lives out of poverty without 56 recommendations.
Poverty is here even though the “poverty tzar” is not. We hope it won’t happen, but those who work with the homeless and poverty-striken expect things to get worse under the Trump administration, with all the cuts planned in his budget.
Members of the ACEY Group, an affiliate of The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, heard this past weekend about how cuts in federal block grants and other federal programs will hurt efforts to reduce homelessness.
Also, the GOP’s repeal of Obamacare and the version they seem prepared to replace it with could drive more people into poverty.
So, as the mayor and the city ponder what to do next, more people could be hurting and the number of people in poverty in Winston-Salem could grow.
The Poverty Thought Force has done a whole lot of thinking. Now it’s time for some action.
Find the full Poverty Thought Force report at http://www.povertythoughtforce.com/.