HARRISBURG – Every region of Pennsylvania struggles with the effects of poverty; from the elderly couple living on a fixed income in Pittsburgh, to the single mother in Northumberland County struggling to raise her family, to the recent college graduate paying for student loans on an entry-level salary.
With these examples in mind, the House Majority Policy Committee sought input from numerous community groups, non-profit organizations and municipal officials, and gained perspective from tours and roundtable discussions conducted across the Commonwealth, as part of the initiative, “Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty.” Chairman Dave Reed (R-Indiana) and members of the committee have issued “Beyond Poverty,” preliminary findings from the initiative.
Designed to identify the barriers low-income Pennsylvanians face when attempting to reach self-sufficiency, the report shares the best principles in positively combatting poverty in the Commonwealth. The report also narrows the focus on the committee’s legislative and policy priorities moving forward.
“Government spends nearly a trillion dollars annually on programs to fight poverty, yet there are still 1.6 million Pennsylvanians struggling to make ends meet. It’s clearly time to reassess whether President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty was a success or not,” Reed said.
Since assessments have shown that poverty isn’t contained to one type of community, the committee worked to examine it in a wide variety of locations, including inner-city neighborhoods, suburbs and also in the state’s rural areas. The hearings, roundtable discussions and tours included testimony from more than 100 stakeholders in locations that included Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, the Poconos and Clearfield County.
“Poverty in our rural areas such as Clearfield County is very different than in our urban areas of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia,” Reed said. “It shows a one-size-fits-all approach will not work in confronting this very serious problem.”
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