Lawmakers and several community groups met today at the State Capitol to unveil a new outreach intiative focused on investigating and fighting poverty in Pennsylvania. The House Majority Policy Committee hosted the conference titled, “Empowering Opportunities: Gateways out of Poverty”. The group’s goal is to determine what steps can be taken to remove the barriers to opportunity that prevent families from overcoming the challenges of poverty.
Representative Dave Reed spoke at the event saying, “In the next several months, criss crossing the state and seeing poverty first hand, learning about the programs that work, learning about the programs that don’t work and hopefully throughout that time frame, we can put together a concrete package of legislation or programs or decisions that can help us formulate a way to help break down those barriers to poverty over the years ahead”.
After the conference, committee members participated in a poverty simulation hosted by the Community Action Assocation of Pennsylvania. The simulation re-enacted a standard month in the life of an impoverished individual. In the simulator, legislators had to meet a variety of daily goals such as timely arrival to work via public transportation and waiting for hours at a variety of human service agencies while balancing a limited cash flow.
With the cooperation of nonprofit, faith-based, and human services organizations, the House Majority Policy Committee will host various hearings, roundtable discussions and tours throughout the Commonwealth to study the different approaches currently taken to address this issue.
Approximately 1.5 million Pennsylvanians today live below the poverty level, an amount equal to more than 12 percent of the state’s population.