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New report suggests solutions to alleviate poverty

CHAMPAIGN – With the recession, a state budget crisis and record unemployment numbers, local officials struggle to meet the needs of the growing number of residents who fall below the poverty line.

In 2005, nearly 31,000 Champaign County residents lived below the federal poverty level, according to 2005 Census Bureau estimates. By 2008, one in five county residents lived below the federal poverty level, according to 2008 Census Bureau estimates.

What’s more, the number of county residents living in extreme poverty – those who make less than half of the federal poverty line – increased 40 percent between 2005 and 2008, according to Census Bureau estimates.

In 2005, slightly more than 15,200 Champaign County residents lived in extreme poverty. By 2008, more than 21,300 people lived in extreme poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

To help communities resolve their growing needs, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights released a web-based report Jan. 21 that offers more than 50 strategies to alleviate local poverty.

“This report is meant to be both a catalyst to move individuals and organizations to take action in their own communities and a tool to help connect people experiencing poverty with existing programs and resources,” said Kimberly Drew, one of the report’s author and a policy associate for Heartland Alliance.

The report – Poverty Elimination Strategies that Work – looks at elements of poverty, such as low-paying jobs, lack of affordable housing, lack of education and lack of transportation and recommends solutions based on existing programs.

Many of the recommendations “will require significant investments and partnerships” with local and state governments as well as community leaders, consultants and experts to connect and expand on existing resources, the report stated.

“We must advocate for changing real systems and policies in tandem with local program implementation if we want to have any real impact on poverty levels in our state and realize human rights,” Drew said.

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