Philadelphia, June 13, 2019 – Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) on Thursday named Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (7th District), Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services for the City of Philadelphia Eva Gladstein, Urban Affairs Coalition President and CEO Sharmain Matlock-Turner, and One Day At A Time, Inc. (ODAAT) President and CEO Mel Wells as co-chairs of the Special Committee on Poverty Reduction and Prevention.
The Special Committee was authorized following adoption of a resolution by Council President Clarke and Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez on April 4, 2019. The Special Committee will hold hearings to propose and implement actionable policies and programs that substantively prevent and alleviate poverty in every Philadelphia neighborhood.
Building off a report issued by Council in March 2019, “Narrowing the Gap: Strategies to Alleviate and Prevent Poverty in Philadelphia,” the membership of the Special Committee will be expanded to include leading experts who will serve on three Subcommittees focusing on: Housing, Jobs and Education, and the Social Safety Net.
In the creation of this Special Committee, Philadelphia City Council aims to end the incremental approaches of the past. Council has already begun to implement recommendations from “Narrowing the Gap” and has prioritized poverty reduction and prevention in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.
“Tackling poverty is Philadelphia’s most pressing challenge and our biggest opportunity for growth, and I am honored to co-chair this Special Committee,” said Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez. “I am proud of Council’s significant investments in affordable housing, education, and our workforce, families, and neighborhoods, and I look forward to continuing our work through a data-driven, equity-focused process that will lead to bold policy that improves the lives of all Philadelphians.”
“I am pleased to serve as a Co-Chair of this Special Committee,” added Eva Gladstein. “I look forward to working with the other Co-Chairs and members to build upon the existing poverty prevention and reduction work underway in our city, and develop creative new pathways for economic mobility. This will be an important complement to “Growing with Equity: Philadelphia’s Vision for Inclusive Growth.’”
“We must refocus pathways for our working-age adults to earn more and train-up while investing in the potential of families and children living in poverty for the long-term. If we can lift the 135,000 people of working age out of poverty and if we can continue to improve education and youth employment we will sow the seeds for families and children to break the cycle and create a more prosperous Philadelphia,” said Sharmain Matlock-Turner.
Recent examples of Council’s focus on poverty include ordinances establishing a Low-Income Tenant Legal Defense Fund, Fair Chance Housing for returning citizens, and affordable housing requirements for certain public land dispositions were introduced during the Stated Meeting of Council on Thursday, March 7, 2019.
Council President Clarke added: “The Special Committee will expand on Council’s recent budget priorities and ‘Narrowing the Gap’ to build partnerships with the Kenney Administration, private sector, and non-profit institutions to achieve tangible results for Philadelphians living in poverty, or at risk of slipping into poverty. At current levels, the stubborn challenges of poverty are a daily reality for over a quarter of our neighbors, friends, and family. Now is not the time for studying the issue further; now is the time for bold, decisive action.”
Appointment of the full Special Committee on Poverty Reduction and Prevention, its three Subcommittees on Housing, Jobs and Education, and the Social Safety Net, and future meetings will be announced in the near future.
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Photos: City of Philadelphia, Urban Affairs Coalition, One Day At A Time, Inc.