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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