Almost one-and-a-half million people, including over 444,000 children, live in poverty in Pennsylvania. Even before the national economic downturn, Pennsylvania’s poverty rates were on the rise. Family poverty rates went from 7.8% to 8.5% and child poverty rates jumped from 14.9% to 16.4% from 2000 to 2008.
Yet, no one fully understands this problem. And, until we do, it is difficult to craft public policy to help Pennsylvanian families move up and out of poverty.
Recently, at the urging of the Coalition for Low Income Pennsylvanians (CLIP), State Representative Eugene DePasquale introduced House Resolution 833. If enacted, this resolution would establish a commission to conduct an “in-depth study of the occurrence, effects, trends and future projections of poverty in this Commonwealth.”
HR 833 will help all of us obtain a better understanding of how poverty impacts Pennsylvanians and identify areas where increased support is the most necessary. A geographically, professionally, and economically diverse committee will hold listening groups with low-income residents around the state, conduct surveys of low-income communities, and study strategies other states use to address similar challenges. The committee will then write a report summarizing the impact of poverty, identifying apparent trends, and predicting future difficulties.
On June 2, 2010, the House Health and Human Services Committee passed HB 833 unanimously. But time is running out for the full House to vote on the resolution. Please write your local representative to say that you support studying the effects of poverty on the Commonwealth and urge them to vote in favor of HR 833.