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Mayor Brown Receives Poverty Reduction Blueprint
Contact: Peter Cutler
Deputy Mayor Donna Brown Presents Document to Mayor Following Study of Best Practices and Consultation with Community- and Faith-Based Organizations; Mayor Announces Co-Chairs of Recommended Mayor’s Economic Opportunity Taskforce
“I’m pleased to present to Mayor Brown this document that will now serve as the guide for the City of Buffalo’s continuing effort in addressing and reducing poverty among our residents,” said Deputy Mayor Brown. “As stated in the document’s introduction, this report is designed to be a blueprint for strategic planning and action to reduce the level of poverty in Buffalo and assure that all of Buffalo’s residents share in future economic growth.”
The report notes that research from the 2007 American Community Survey shows that 42% of children under the age of 17 in Buffalo live in poverty. And recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau places Buffalo as the nation’s third poorest city.
However, the report also highlights that poverty is a regional problem. The report states, “While there is the perception that poverty is an issue for the city, but not the region, U.S. Census data indicates that poverty is growing in Erie County. The number of county residents in poverty increased from 115,613 in 1990 to 123,888 in 2007, yielding a corresponding increase in the poverty rate for Erie County residents from 12% to 14%. This increase was not due to more City residents among the poverty ranks. Although the percentage of Buffalo City residents in poverty increased over the period 1990 to 2007, the absolute number of individuals in poverty in the City of Buffalo declined from 81,601 to 72,005, reflecting the declining overall population. Thus the increase in the number of Erie County residents in poverty from 1990 to 2007 was fueled by growth in poverty outside the City of Buffalo, and municipalities outside Buffalo and the County of Erie must be a part of the solution to fighting poverty.”
“The decades of economic dislocation and population shifts have had a profound impact on the City of Buffalo and our residents,” said Mayor Brown. “I tasked Deputy Mayor Donna Brown to develop a plan of action that would analyze current poverty conditions in Buffalo and develop recommendations for attacking the causes of poverty in our city, with the goal of building upon our Administration’s existing anti-poverty initiatives and strengthening our ability to provide greater opportunities of advancement for all of our residents. I intend to move aggressively, in partnership with the broad coalition of organizations that have contributed to this plan, to implement the recommendations in the Buffalo Poverty Reduction Blueprint.”
Chief among the recommendations in Deputy Brown’s plan is the creation of a regional task force to develop a strategy for reducing poverty in the city. Modeled after the highly successful Mayor’s Anti-Flipping Task Force, the Buffalo Poverty Reduction Blueprint calls for the creation of four working groups that would each focus on the goals of the proposed poverty reduction initiative: increasing educational attainment, providing pathways to jobs, creating an environment that fosters economic opportunity and success and building quality neighborhoods. Each working group will be comprised of representatives of public and private organizations in the city, county and region.
“With the recommendation of Deputy Mayor Brown, I am today announcing the formation of the Mayor’s Economic Opportunity Taskforce and I have asked L. Nathan Hare, Executive Director of the Community Action Organization of Erie County, Inc. and Sister Denise A. Roche GNSH Ph.D., President of D’Youville College to serve as co-chairs of this important process” said Mayor Brown. “Both Mr. Hare and President Roche have extensive experience in and knowledge of the socio-economic issues that are directly related to poverty in Buffalo. I am confident they will lead this effort with skill, compassion and tremendous energy. In addition, I have asked Dr. Henry Taylor, Director of the Center for Urban Studies at the University at Buffalo, to serve as the coordinator of the task force.”
“Each of these four goals is delineated in more detail within the plan and result directly from my discussions with a broad range of representatives from organizations located throughout our region and elsewhere,” said Deputy Mayor Brown. “I want to emphasize that there are no silver bullets in this plan. We are well aware that the only way to successfully combat and reduce poverty, while opening new opportunities for our residents, is to work collaboratively with the groups and organizations that are daily engaged in combating the effects of poverty in Buffalo. The city does not possess the level of social service infrastructure to engage in such actions unilaterally; we must have strong partners to succeed and it is my belief that this proposed plan will help us establish a platform for collaboration and success.”
Prior to the planning and release of this report the Brown Administration has engaged a variety of programs and initiatives that are designed to fight the affects of poverty and provide pathways to success for city residents, particularly the youth of the city.
“When I took office in January 2006, I immediately expanded the city’s Summer Youth Employment program, growing the program 164% from the previous Administration’s final year in 2005 (1,200 youth employed) through the summer of 2008, when my Administration helped 3,173 city youth attain gainful employment throughout the city,” said Mayor Brown. “In addition, my annual summer reading challenge for youth grew 140% from 2006 through last summer (and 348% since the inception of the program in 2001), engaging over 1,200 students (versus 500 in 2006) in an effort to improve literacy and strengthen academic skills. These are among my Administration’s continuing effort to fight poverty, improve opportunity and help our most at-risk youth succeed.”
In addition to the Summer Youth Employment and Summer Reading Challenge programs, the Brown Administration has added a Winter Youth Employment initiative, enacted the Living Wage that affects 92 seasonal city employees in 6 city departments, expanded the retail discount program for the city’s senior residents (increasing by 2,101% participation from 236 seniors in 2005 to 5,195 seniors in 2008) and has recently announced a $200,000 grant for the city-based Meals on Wheels food production center and commissary expansion project.
The attached list includes the organizations that were consulted by Deputy Mayor Donna Brown.
Groups and Individuals Consulted for Buffalo Poverty Reduction Blueprint:
© 2001-2011 City of Buffalo
Photos by Angel Art LTP, compliments of the Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau. Additional photos by Adrian Roselli, compliments of Algonquin Studios