Toledo Blade, June 6, 2008: Toledo set for battle on poverty

Posted on



A collaborative of some of Toledo’s strongest social and community agencies will tackle the poverty problem in the city by concentrating efforts like a laser – hitting one neighborhood at a time, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced yesterday.

“This group is a proactive, action-oriented group designed to implement best practices in fighting poverty,” Mr. Finkbeiner said.

The mayor said the group had not identified its first target area, but is considering neighborhoods in the south end and East Toledo.

In 2006, nearly 1.5 million Ohioans – 13.3 percent of the state’s 11.5 million residents – were living in poverty, according to a report released last week.

That figure is up from about 1.2 million in 1999, or 10.6 percent of the state’s population that year.

In referencing the study, the mayor called the findings confirmation that action, as well as his new commission on poverty, is needed.

Bill Kitson, chief executive officer of the United Way of Greater Toledo, said education, employment, and health care are critical components to address with people on a one-on-one basis.

“We deal with this every day in our community,” Mr. Kitson said. “We need to get into the neighborhoods.”

Gov. Ted Strickland signed an executive order last week creating a state anti-poverty task force.

Mr. Finkbeiner applauded the move in a letter to the governor.

The city’s new anti-poverty commission is made up of leaders from the Equal Opportunity Planning Association, the United Way, Greater Toledo Urban League, 1 Matters Homeless Awareness Tent City, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc., Legal Aid of Western Ohio Inc., the AFL-CIO, and Women Blessing Women.

“Every day there is a child that wakes up hungry,” said John Jones, president and chief executive officer of the Urban League.”

The new commission also includes two Scott High School students and the city’s department of neighborhoods and community relations.

“I see poverty on a daily basis,” said Josiah Williams, who recently graduated from Scott. “Some kids try to hide it with nice clothes, [but] I know they go home hungry.”

Mr. Finkbeiner said the group would work to “eliminate individual and systematic barriers to escape poverty.”

“We know jobs, job-readiness, and education are critical pieces to breaking the cycle of poverty,” the mayor said.

Elizabeth Phillips, Mr. Finkbeiner’s spokesman, said there would be no cost to taxpayers generated by the commission.

Other American mayors have taken their own approaches to fighting poverty.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for example, announced that poor New Yorkers could get paid if they made choices that combated poverty, such as staying in school or taking higher education courses.

« Back to News