Could Targeted Outreach Stem Poverty?


Reposted from the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle:

To halt the city’s rising poverty rate, Mayor Lovely Warren is exploring a targeted approach that would focus on service gaps and on certain neighborhoods just showing signs of distress. “You have to focus in,” Warren said.

The idea remains a work in progress, but in general would look to plug or bridge gaps in support services and hone in on efforts that could move people out of poverty with innovative efforts in which the city plays a supporting role. Warren points to Cleveland, where a network of worker-owned cooperatives — leveraged by area foundation and business investments, and tied into growing sectors of the local economy — are being developed in six low-income neighborhoods. The idea is as simple as finding what major employers pay out-of-town service providers, creating that business here at home, then hiring and training the workforce. The hope would be to significantly move the poverty needle, Warren said, but honestly: “Our goal is to actually level off.”

More than one-third of Rochester residents live in poverty — and more than half of its children. Census estimates released last month show already dismal conditions worsened in 2013. Rochester’s child poverty rate is the second-highest among U.S. cities with a population of 200,000 or more, trailing only Detroit. The city’s overall poverty rates climbed more than 5 percentage points between 2005 and 2013, records show, and is twice that of Monroe County, New York state and the nation. Poverty is most concentrated in the neighborhoods encircling downtown from the southwest to the northeast, an area commonly called The Crescent. Since launching its Office of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives in September, the city has tabulated how much incomes would need to increase to reduce poverty by 1 percent in different census tracts, the mayor said.

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