Pima County Logo
  • Increase font size
  • Decrease font size
  • Print
  • RSS
  • Pima County launches initiative to end poverty

    Feb 27, 2015 | Read More News
    Share this page
    Chuck Huckelberry announced this week that he is launching a broad-based initiative aimed at an audacious goal: to end poverty in Pima County.

    Ending Poverty Now: An Economic Initiative of Pima County will focus on bringing community leaders, employers and government officials together to fight poverty from an economic standpoint, not just a social-services standpoint.

    In announcing Ending Poverty Now, Huckelberry has invited employers, educators, community leaders and representatives from the faith and social-service sectors to sign a letter of commitment defining how they will help with the initiative.

    Poverty is defined as the lack of resources to deal with problems, and it keeps the poor trapped in crisis and unable to realize a better future. National statistics show that 38 percent of children in the United States spend a year or more in poverty but they account for 70 percent of the children who do not graduate from high school. More than 35 percent of children in the city of Tucson live in poverty.

    The county began examining options to eradicate poverty last September when more than 150 people attended a county-sponsored event based on Bridges Out of Poverty curriculum to learn about the impact poverty has on communities as a whole, not just poor individuals and their families. County supervisors, Tucson City Council members, state legislators, educators, school board members, and leaders from the faith and nonprofit sectors attended.

    Since then, utilizing skills from the Bridges Out of Poverty program, county staff has been working to develop a “home grown” framework to eradicating poverty in the county. This framework includes service models pioneered by the One-Stop Career Center and the Pima County Housing Center, and is informed by concepts out of the Bridges program, Employer Resource Networks, Financial Opportunity Centers and Centers for Working Families. The result is Ending Poverty Now, which will work to build economic prosperity for all the county’s residents through education, cross-discipline partnerships, and business initiatives to promote retention and advancement of low-wage workers.

    “Having a job isn’t enough,” said Huckelberry. “If it were, we wouldn’t have so many hardworking people still struggling in poverty. We need a broad-based approach that helps employers understand the benefits of supporting workers in ways that help them rise out of poverty. An approach that coordinates resources from multiple sources to consolidate and streamline help.”

    One of the key parts of Ending Poverty Now is employer engagement through programs such as On-the-Job Training, Employer Resource Networks and New Employee Transition that can reduce employee turnover and improve retention and development of a stable, upwardly-mobile workforce.

    “Traditionally workforce training programs tend to focus on placement in a job as the way out of poverty,” said Dorothée Harmon, a program manager at One-Stop who is helping to lead the effort. “In reality getting a job is just the beginning. Insufficient resources may continue to keep that new employee trapped in crisis until they can build resources through job retention, advancement and increased ability to navigate through institutions to access services.”

    Options for employers, educators, community leaders and representatives from the faith and social-service sectors to help include offering “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World” seminars, offering retention and advancement opportunities for under-resourced employees, and recruiting mentors for Getting Ahead graduates.

    “There are some who say it is impossible to end poverty – but those people are wrong,” said Huckelberry. “We have to realize poverty is a community problem that needs a community solution – including commitment from employers. This isn’t just a social-service problem; it is also an economic problem. Poverty costs municipalities millions of dollars annually. But more than that, it costs us in human potential. This is a long-term community effort, and I’m glad we’ve decided to take this first step.”