Archive for November 18, 2013

Rep. Simmons on Allentown Event

I was pleased to be able to join several of my House colleagues and local community leaders on Nov. 7 for a frank discussion about poverty in the Lehigh Valley and what we, as lawmakers, can do to help more individuals and families escape its grip. The roundtable took place at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown and included representatives from area schools, nonprofit organizations and economic development groups.

 IMGL9017The House Majority Policy Committee has been holding meetings like this around the state in recent months to gain a better understanding of the extent of poverty in Pennsylvania and its devastating impact on communities like ours.

Our discussion focused on youth intervention efforts, community economic development initiatives and jobs programs for the unemployed and underemployed. We heard a number of great ideas for fighting poverty. One participant told us that reducing the number of high school dropouts is critical. Another told us that funding literacy programs is important.

We also learned that zoning issues contribute to the creation of impoverished neighborhoods. There are more than 60 municipalities in our region, each with its own zoning regulations, which makes it difficult to develop cohesive land use plans that would enhance economic development. One participant stressed that anti-poverty programs should not be about getting people “out of the hood,” but about turning struggling communities into places where people want to stay.

It has been nearly 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty and the nation has spent some $7 trillion since then on anti-poverty programs. But despite all of that spending, there are still 26 million Americans today who live below the poverty line. We need to do better.

 I’d like to thank committee Chairman Dave Reed for scheduling the meeting and everyone who took part. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in Harrisburg on developing effective legislative solutions to this serious problem.


-Rep. Justin Simmons


Pocono News.Net On Pocono Poverty Event

Rep hosts discussion on poverty in the Poconos

HARRISBURG – As part of the House Majority Policy Committee’s continuing initiative to recognize current programs in place to help combat poverty across the state, Rep. Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe/Pike) invited Chairman Dave Reed (R-Indiana) to host a roundtable discussion with area stakeholders working in the Pocono region.

The discussion took place in Stroudsburg and was part of the House Majority Policy Committee’s initiative, “Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty,” which started in June, it seeks to identify challenges that families across Pennsylvania are faced with that prevent them from rising out of poverty.

“As a member of the policy committee, when I learned that they chose to focus their initiative on helping people get above the poverty level, I immediately suggested that one of their stops be in the Pocono region”, Brown said after the meeting. “Monroe County is very different than what a lot of people think it to be. The reality is that we have a lot of issues related to poverty in our area. Fortunately, we have several groups, many of which were represented at the meeting today, that work day-in and day-out to ensure they are doing all they can to help those living below the poverty line.

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Pocono Record on Policy Event in Stroudsburg

Pocono poverty fighters meet with Pa. legislators

By Chris Reber

A western Pennsylvania legislator met with local anti-poverty advocates Wednesday to hear about the issues facing Monroe County and some of their best solutions.

Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana, is traveling around the state to learn more about poverty in Pennsylvania. He said he wants to use the information to possibly shake up the way the state funds anti-poverty programs.

On Wednesday, Reed met with officials from Family Promise of Monroe County, Pocono Alliance, Pocono Area Transitional Housing, Monroe County Head Start and the Pocono Family YMCA.

“Eventually, somebody has to make real decisions, and they may not be popular,” Reed said. “Over 50 percent of the state’s budget is spent on public welfare programs.”

Locally, the number of people in poverty has skyrocketed in the last 10 years, said Arthur Piancone of Bridges Out of Poverty, a local job skills and self-sufficiency program. One out of five children in the county lives in poverty, and every school in the county has more than 45 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch.

And families climbing out of poverty face significant barriers like housing costs, transportation, child care, and above all, decent-paying jobs.

Piancone said a liveable wage in the county is $14-$18 per hour, and employment opportunities in the county don’t supply that.

“We’re a tourism community. Unfortunately, we’re not bringing in the jobs to give people a living wage,” he said.

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Express-Times Covers Event in Allentown

Poverty leaves too many unaware of the ‘American dream,’ official says

By Colin McEvoy

Pennsylvania state Rep. Dave Reed is a Republican. But when it comes to fighting poverty, he doesn’t have much nice to say about either political party.

“It sometimes seems like Republicans don’t want to believe poverty exists or that government has any role in getting out of it, while Democrats fall all too often into thinking that if we give money to the same programs, somehow we’ll get a different result,” said Reed, R-Indiana.

Reed and state Rep. Justin Simmons, R-Lehigh, led a roundtable discussion today with two dozen elected officials and community leaders that focused on finding ways to alleviate poverty.

Reed said Jan. 8 is the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson declaring a War on Poverty, but 26 million Americans still live in poverty despite $7 trillion in national spending to fight it since 1964.

“We’ve got too many folks not just not living the American dream, but not even knowing there is an American dream, and that’s a sad state of affairs in America,” Reed said today at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown.



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