Poverty problems: Local forum seeks solution to poverty on the Palouse
Although there aren’t any tent cities or homeless people sleeping under bridges on the Palouse, poverty is still an issue — an invisible one, City of Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney said.
Anyone who works in Moscow and earns less than $9.83 an hour is considered to be living in poverty, said Steve Bonnar, the Sojourners Alliance director.
The seventh Poverty on the Palouse forum, in which participants aim to shed light on the search for possible solutions, will take place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Moscow City Hall council chambers.
Sojourners’ Alliance is a local nonprofit organization working to provide affordable housing, education, counseling and community integration opportunities to low-income families and representatives will participate in the forum.
Bonnar said in July he had to turn away 11 families in one day because the facility is at capacity. Now, about four to five households are turned away daily, Bonnar said.
The POP forum will address several facets of poverty including health care, housing, food, transportation, workforce training and childcare.
“We’ll try and fuse them all together because each of those categories is related to the other,” Chaney said. “It’s a multi-dimensional problem.”
Past participants in the forum include members from local service providers such as Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, Idaho Health and Welfare, St. Vincent de Paul, the Sojourners Alliance, Hope Center, the food bank, transportation providers, the League of Women Voters, as well as recipients of those services.
Chaney said the meetings don’t have a hard and fast format, but are an open discussion.
“It’s basically a chance to talk about the needs, the resources and how we may communicate better with each other to meet the needs of those people in our community living in poverty,” Chaney said.
A community health service provider from Spokane will present at Wednesday’s meeting, to discuss the prospect of developing a free or sliding-scale medical facility in Moscow.
“Part of the interaction among the service providers and members of the public that are there will be to sort of have support for that idea and figure out who the
prospective partners are,” Chaney said. “ … It’s an opportunity for networking.”
Bonnar said the idea for the Family Promise Program is a direct spin-off from networking at previous forums.
The program is two-fold — it focuses on families and draws help from church congregations in the Moscow-Pullman community.
Bonnar said the program is looking for support from 13 different churches.
“There’s 52 weeks in a year, so if there’s 13 churches, each one would house families four times a year,” Bonnar said.
He said there would be a host church where families stay, and the rest would serve as support churches.
“Those support churches would come in and help cook a meal, interact with the participants and provide the chaperones for the night,” he said.
During the day, families would go to a day center, where they’d have access to laundry facilities and the Internet.
“My understanding is that (Family Promise Program) will open their services by the end of the year,” Bonnar said.
A Family Promise Program representative will attend Wednesday’s forum to give an update of its progress.
Chaney said the POP forums began in 2010, related to input from area service providers who were having trouble upholding their commitments.
She said other than networking potential, information gathered at the forums could lead to grant opportunities or policy statements from local organizations like the League of Women Voters.
The forum is open to the public, and Chaney said she encourages everybody to attend.
“The student population are members of this community too, and to have them be recognized as a viable part of the potential solution is important,” Chaney said.
Britt Kiser can be reached at email@example.com