Core Solutions to PovertyA Look at Minnesota’s Legislative Commission to End Poverty Gregory Gray, Executive Director August 10, 2009
Table of Contents • Brief Introduction • What Did Minnesota Do • Group Exercise • A Word from the Experts • Minnesota’s Recommendations • Compare and Contrast • What is Poverty? • Q & A
Introduction Gregory Gray • Director or Governmental and External Affairs, Community Action of Minneapolis • Executive Director, Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota. • Two Term State Representative from Minnesota • Background in Finance, Accounting and Law.
Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020 • Commission enacted into law in 2006 • 9 members appointed from the Minnesota House of Representatives • 9 members appointed from the Minnesota Senate • 2 non-voting members appointed by the Governor.
Commission’s Guiding Principles • Consistent and persistent approach that includes participation of people of faith, nonprofit agencies, government and business. • All people should be provided with those things that protect human dignity and make for a healthy life. • All people are intended to live well together as a whole community, seeking the common good, avoiding wide disparities between those who have to little to live on and those who have a disproportionate share of the nation’s goods.
Commission’s Guiding Principles • All people need to work together to overcome poverty, and this work transcends both any particular political theory or party and any particular economic theory or structure. • Alliances are needed between the faith community, nonprofit agencies, government, business and others. • Overcoming poverty involves both acts of direct service to alleviate the outcomes of poverty and advocacy to change those structures that result in people living in poverty.
Commission’s Guiding Principles • Government is neither solely responsible for alleviating poverty nor removed from that responsibility. Government is the vehicle by which people order their live based on their shared vision.
Commission Work Plan • Phase I – Setting the Vision • Phase II – Explore the Solutions • Phase III – Create a Plan of Action.
Phase I – Setting the Vision • Monthly Hearings at the State Capitol • State Demographer • State Economist • Various Non-Profits that Serve the Poor • General Public • Federal and Municipal Officials • Others
Phase I – Setting the Vision • Statewide “Listening Tours” of Minnesota Poverty • Food shelves • Emergency Shelters • Meet with Poor and those who Directly Serve them.
Quick Facts about Poverty in Minnesota • Minnesota has the 8th lowest poverty rate. • 9.8% of Minnesotans live below the federal poverty line. • Approximately 464 thousand Minnesotans meet the federal standard for “poor”. • Another 719 thousand Minnesotans have income between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty line.
Quick Facts about Poverty in Minnesota • Minnesota’s poverty rate have risen over 2 percentage points over the last decade. • Minnesota has some of the greatest disparities in poverty by racial group. • While less then 7% of Minnesota’s white population is poor, about 33% of the African American population is poor. • Nationally, less then 26% of African Americans are considered poor.
Quick Facts about Poverty in Minnesota • Poverty is balanced between Minneapolis/St. Paul (41%) and Greater Minnesota (39%). • There are 4 key poverty characteristics • Educational Status • Family Status • Disability • Race and Ethnicity
Quick Facts about Poverty in Minnesota • Children under the age of 18 represent the single largest age group in poverty. 31% of those living in poverty in Minnesota are children.
Quick Facts about Poverty in Minnesota • A third (34%) of Americans were poor for at least 2 months during the 4 year period • 2% were poor every month of the 4 years • Half (51%) of poverty spells last 4 months or less • 80% of poverty spells last 1 year or less
Phase II – Exploring the Solutions • Note Key Issues Identified in Phase I • Health Care • Child Care • Affordable Housing • Transportation • Living Wage Jobs • Education • Criminal Justice Issues • Race & Gender Discrimination
Phase II – Exploring the Solutions • Determine “Best Practices” • Review other reports on poverty. • Accept input from interested parties. • Retreat to deliberate on definition of poverty. • Break into subcommittees to examine issues and potential recommendations.
Group Exercise Break into small groups and prepare a list of at least Five things you believe are critical to ending or reducing poverty.
A Word from the ExpertsCommunity Action Partnership – Rooting Out Poverty Report • Maximize Participation (advocacy, community building) • Build and Economy that Works for Everyone (transportation, asset building, financial literacy) • Invest for the Future (education)
A Word from the ExpertsCommunity Action Partnership – Rooting Out Poverty Report • Maximize Equality of Opportunity (equal justice, mentor programs) • Ensure Healthy People and Places (access to health care, housing
A Word from the ExpertsConnecticut Commission on Children • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) • Child Care • Housing Subsidies • Health Care • High Quality Childhood Education • Improved Safety Net • Family Structure
A Word for the ExpertsCenter for American Progress • Raise Minimum Wage • Expand EITC • Promote Unions • Guarantee Child Care Assistance • Housing Vouchers • Youth Programs • Ex-Offender Reintegration Programs • Improve Unemployment Insurance
Minnesota’s Recommendations Achieving Economic Self-Sufficiency • Expand Educational opportunity • Early Childhood • Increase Graduation Rates • Make postsecondary education more accessable.
Minnesota’s RecommendationsAchieving Economic Self-Sufficiency • Make work pay • Increase Minimum Wage • Increase Working Family Credit • Examine Tax Policies • Encourage employers to provide opportunities for workers to improve their skills.
Minnesota’s Recommendations Achieving Economic Self-Sufficiency • Temporary Support/Supplemental Income. • Eliminate distinctions between unemployed and those receiving other assistance. • Eliminate “Cliffs” • More flexible income supports.
Minnesota’s Recommendations Building Financial and Developmental Assets. • Supporting affordable housing • Encourage the Federal Government • Remove unnecessary Zoning restrictions • Require “Comprehensive Housing Plans” • Attention the emergency shelter needs • Examine the mortgage interest deduction.
Minnesota’s Recommendations Building Financial and Developmental Assets. • Increase consumer financial literacy. • Incorporate Financial Literacy training into the elementary and middle school curriculums. • Require financial literacy training as prerequisite for certain public assistance programs. • Ban or further regulate certain high cost services such as “PayDay Loans or Refund Anticipation Loans.
Minnesota’s Recommendations Building Financial and Developmental Assets. • Required additional disclosures for certain financial transactions • Encourage business to develop competing products. • Consider altering or eliminating certain “Asset Drawdown” requirements. • Promote Individual Development Accounts. (IDA’s)
Minnesota’s Recommendations Building Financial and Developmental Assets. • Government should support those programs that nurture “developmental assets” • Foster one on one relationships between youth and caring adults. • Support Community Building programs.
Minnesota’s Recommendations Building Financial and Developmental Assets. • Work to reduce teen pregnancy and support teen parents. • Education • School based clinics • Support programs that allow young mothers to stay in school. • Child rearing classes • Promote the rights and responsibilities of noncustodial parents.
Minnesota’s Recommendations Building Financial and Developmental Assets. • Meeting individual and community transportation needs. • Keep transit fares affordable • Eliminate service gaps • Align transportation with economic development. • Support programs that sell and repair cars for low income families and minimal cost.
Minnesota’s Recommendations Remove Barriers and Obstacles to Rising out of Poverty • Continue to work to end racism. • Disparities Impact Statement • Confront the Health Needs of the Poor. • Guarantee all Minnesotans access to health care including mental health treatment and chemical dependency treatment.
Final ThoughtsCommon Themes We know there are only three ways to move an individual or family from poverty to prosperity: • Increase their income • Decrease their expenses • A combination of both
Final ThoughtsWe Know What Works • Income supports (EITC, Unemployment Insurance, disability, ect.) • Safety Net Program (Housing subsidies, Food Stamps, Childcare, Healthcare. • Access to Education
Questions / Answers A discussion about poverty, what’s been done and what needs to be done.