CARBONDALE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A new report by a Pennsylvania senator suggests the state government is lacking in helping people get out of financial distress.
To find out more about what could be done, two state senators went on a listening tour in our area. One of those senators is Art Haywood and he set out to find the issues surrounding poverty. His trip took him from the Philadelphia streets to Lock Haven and Lackawanna County.
More than one million people are living in poverty in Pennsylvania. For a family of four, if you make less than $26,000, you’re living in poverty.
“They’re in a position where they can provide an apartment to put together the living experiences of an apartment and then food,” St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen director Rob Williams said.
Right now the kitchen is serving between 160 and 170 meals a day and every month is different.
“A lot of the people are just now getting back on their feet or are in need of that little extra help,” Williams said.
To throw them that little extra help,
State senator John Blake and Senator Art Haywood addressed the issue on Tuesday. Senator Haywood set out on a two-month listening tour in May. It ended in Scranton in July. His findings? People are working but can’t make ends meet, childcare is too expensive, family support, transportation and more.
“It’s clear it’s not about individual will. It’s really what we’re not doing in the government that’s holding people back,” Haywood, (D) 4th Senatorial District (Philadelphia and Montgomery), said.
Haywood highlighted minimum wage, public transportation efficiency, and getting the word out there about government programs that can help individuals struggling. He will take 20 recommendations back to Harrisburg to help curb poverty in the state.
“We can be better in coming up with judgments of what we should do next t help solve these challenges,” Haywood said.
Haywood met with several state senators throughout his tour including Senator Blake.
“If there is a pocket of poverty here, we should be figuring out how to get those folks to work and train them for the jobs of the future so there is labor industry. That might have training dollars. There’s transportation. That might have transportation dollars. Are we efficiently deploying them to meet people where they are and I don’t think we are,” Blake (D) 22nd Senatorial District (Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe), said.
Both Senator Blake and Haywood say there are only four more work sessions in the state Senate, saying there is not much time to get stuff done by the end of this year. But they are making it their 2020 goal to lower poverty in Pennsylvania.