Poverty may not be a "sexy" issue any longer, but many Utah families still suffer its effects, according to the director of the Salt Lake Community Action Program.
Thursday night, Salt Lake CAP held one of a series of "poverty hearings" to discuss the challenges and possible solutions.Not surprisingly, said Cathy Hoskins, affordable housing has consistently led the list of concerns compiled by the group during its numerous hearings.
The information gathered will be tallied and forwarded to the National Association of Community Action Agencies, she said. It will also be discussed at the National Conference of Poverty Workers later this year.
"We want to put poverty on the front burner again," said Hoskins. "It's not sexy to be affiliated with poverty issues now. But poverty is alive and well, and we hope to come up with new ideas for solutions."
After discussing poverty in general, the audience of about 50 people broke into groups to tackle various aspects of poverty. Their goal was to prioritize the top three outcomes using the question, "What three outcomes, if achieved together, would allow us to say that poverty had largely been resolved in our community?"
Categories they discussed included housing and basic needs, health, income and work, education, family development, crime, citizenship and anti-discrimination and inclusiveness.
Quantity and quality of affordable housing dominated the agenda. But the groups also discussed the need for public transportation to keep people from becoming isolated.
Health concerns included adequate insurance for people with low incomes, particularly the "working poor," and reduction in drug use and sexually transmitted diseases.
Quality of education and the need to emphasize the importance of getting an education that will lead to earning a livable wage, decreased births to teenagers, the importance of child support payments and crime reduction were also listed as important.