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Upcoming hearing to be first step in battling extreme poverty

CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty will host a public hearing in Danville Monday as part of a plan to reduce extreme poverty in half by 2015.

The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. at The David S. Palmer Arena, 100 W. Main St., Danville. It’s the first of three hearings around the state that are meant to garner input from citizens living in financial hardship.

“It’s more of an outreach effort to kind of hear from people who are directly affected by poverty,” said Samreen Khan, a senior policy analyst for the governor’s office.

If you go

The Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty is in the process of developing a Poverty Elimination Strategy to cut the number of people living in extreme poverty in half by 2015 in a manner consistent with international human rights standards.

The commission is seeking input from Illinois residents regarding their thoughts on what our state should do to reach the 2015 goal. Your input is critical to ensuring the strategy reflects the needs of those experiencing hardship in our state.


6 to 9 p.m., Monday, Feb. 22


David S. Palmer Arena, 100 W. Main St., Danville

Food and childcare will be provided. Spanish and American Sign Language Translation will be available. Transportation reimbursement is available for qualifying individuals.

For more information contact Doug Schenkelberg at (312)870-4947 or Samreen Khan at


Nearly 700,000 state residents live in extreme poverty, according to 2008 Census Bureau data. Extreme poverty is typically defined as individuals who make 50 percent or less than the poverty level. 

The federal poverty level is $22,050 a year for a family of four. A family of four with an annual income of $11,025 or less is considered living in extreme poverty.

In Champaign County, just over one in eight people live in extreme poverty.

Overall, poverty is an issue of equality, said Dwight Lucas, chairman of one commission subcommittee. Lack of education, living wages, accessibility, jobs, and healthy foods can all hinder those who wish to move out of poverty, he said.

For those who earn just enough to “make it,” a crisis such as a death in the family, a fire or even car problems, is all it takes to push them back into extreme poverty, Lucas said.

“The primary goal for the hearing … is to gather information from the public in terms of how they see the barriers for people coming out of extreme poverty and what do they see some of the remedies,” he said.

Organizers hope to ensure strong attendance by offering child care, Spanish and sign language translation, food and help with transportation costs for those who qualify.

Transportation costs will be reimbursed on site, said Doug Shenkelburg, associate director for policy and advocacy for Heartland Alliance, which is providing support to the commission.

The second and third public hearings are scheduled on March 8 in Chicago and on April 8 in Southern Illinois.



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