Community must battle poverty together

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Social service representatives say poverty will be reduced in Hamilton through recommended targeted goals.

"I'm a firm believer in targets," said Mark Chamberlain, president and chief executive officer of PictorVision, and chair of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. "I'm a firm believer in measurements, and I'm a firm believer in defining the outcomes that we are looking for.

"But to actually suggest what those numbers are right now, is too early."

Slashing Hamilton's estimated 20 per cent poverty rate, the highest in Ontario, should be the city's top priority, community activists demanded during a recent four-hour public meeting.

Darryl Skidmore, of the Burlington-Hamilton United Way, Jeff Wingard of the Social Planning and Research Council, and Denise Brooks, Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre, were among about 30 people who made presentations to councillors. They told politicians that programs are in place to provide valuable assistance to people living below the poverty line. But more needs to be done to not only offer more assistance, but to eliminate poverty from the city, they said.

Dorothy Spence, a principal with the Hamilton Catholic School Board, said schools are already offering programs to help children who are living in poverty.

Prevention important

Noor Nizam, who arrived from Sri Lanka to Hamilton and battled racism and poverty, told councillors about his struggles against stereotypes and the challenge of finding jobs to support his family, until he finally emerged from income support programs. "Prevention is important," he said to thunderous applause.

He was also grateful to local social service agencies, such as the Hamilton Community Foundation, for assisting his daughter in seeking higher education.

"Council should provide more money for people in poverty," he said.

The number of Hamilton people living near or below the poverty line remains daunting, representatives of the roundtable said.

The roundtable group, in a preliminary report, stated that about one-half of Hamilton's poor are from families with children, or lone adults or couples, numbering about 47,975. About 13,000 families are living in poverty, including 6,430 families with children under the age of 18.

Hamilton's poor families are supporting about 25,000 children under the age of 18, including 8,385 children under the age of six years.

Other people living in poverty include Hamilton's native population, seniors living on fixed incomes, and renters.

Joe-Anne Priel, general manager of Community Services told council that the roundtable's goals include reducing infant mortality, teen pregnancies, school dropout rates, and food bank usage. They would like to see increases in education levels and more participation in cultural and athletic activities.

"There has been a lot of passion brought to our attention, a lot of awareness, a lot of need," said Mayor Larry Di Ianni. "We recognize we have to bring the groups together to reduce poverty and we will be judged on how we do."

Chamberlain said the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, which is scheduled to release its report and recommendations to council in the spring, is leaning towards establishing a poverty network system where every sector of the community is involved in halting poverty, from business, to social service agencies, to the city.

Creating awareness

"With better coordination, better articulation of the issues, and potential solutions to it, more money may be required but (as we) start to look at those situations, you move from the costs kind of thinking to investment," said Chamberlain.

As witnessed by the diverse people who spoke on poverty reduction at the public meeting, Chamberlain said it will take everyone in the community to contribute to the elimination of Hamilton's dire poverty needs.

"As individuals become more and more aware, and become more aware of their role in it, we will find funding," he said.

Chamberlain also wanted to tap into Hamilton's much vaunted volunteer spirit which could greatly reduce the community's poverty rate. "It's a long-term problem, it's a long-term solution set," he said.

"We are not talking about one year, five years, this is multi-, multi- years. We need to have the commitment (from council and the people on the roundtable) and the risk taking of individuals to succeed."

Community must battle poverty together

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Social service representatives say poverty will be reduced in Hamilton through recommended targeted goals.

"I'm a firm believer in targets," said Mark Chamberlain, president and chief executive officer of PictorVision, and chair of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. "I'm a firm believer in measurements, and I'm a firm believer in defining the outcomes that we are looking for.

"But to actually suggest what those numbers are right now, is too early."

Slashing Hamilton's estimated 20 per cent poverty rate, the highest in Ontario, should be the city's top priority, community activists demanded during a recent four-hour public meeting.

Darryl Skidmore, of the Burlington-Hamilton United Way, Jeff Wingard of the Social Planning and Research Council, and Denise Brooks, Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre, were among about 30 people who made presentations to councillors. They told politicians that programs are in place to provide valuable assistance to people living below the poverty line. But more needs to be done to not only offer more assistance, but to eliminate poverty from the city, they said.

Dorothy Spence, a principal with the Hamilton Catholic School Board, said schools are already offering programs to help children who are living in poverty.

Prevention important

Noor Nizam, who arrived from Sri Lanka to Hamilton and battled racism and poverty, told councillors about his struggles against stereotypes and the challenge of finding jobs to support his family, until he finally emerged from income support programs. "Prevention is important," he said to thunderous applause.

He was also grateful to local social service agencies, such as the Hamilton Community Foundation, for assisting his daughter in seeking higher education.

"Council should provide more money for people in poverty," he said.

The number of Hamilton people living near or below the poverty line remains daunting, representatives of the roundtable said.

The roundtable group, in a preliminary report, stated that about one-half of Hamilton's poor are from families with children, or lone adults or couples, numbering about 47,975. About 13,000 families are living in poverty, including 6,430 families with children under the age of 18.

Hamilton's poor families are supporting about 25,000 children under the age of 18, including 8,385 children under the age of six years.

Other people living in poverty include Hamilton's native population, seniors living on fixed incomes, and renters.

Joe-Anne Priel, general manager of Community Services told council that the roundtable's goals include reducing infant mortality, teen pregnancies, school dropout rates, and food bank usage. They would like to see increases in education levels and more participation in cultural and athletic activities.

"There has been a lot of passion brought to our attention, a lot of awareness, a lot of need," said Mayor Larry Di Ianni. "We recognize we have to bring the groups together to reduce poverty and we will be judged on how we do."

Chamberlain said the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, which is scheduled to release its report and recommendations to council in the spring, is leaning towards establishing a poverty network system where every sector of the community is involved in halting poverty, from business, to social service agencies, to the city.

Creating awareness

"With better coordination, better articulation of the issues, and potential solutions to it, more money may be required but (as we) start to look at those situations, you move from the costs kind of thinking to investment," said Chamberlain.

As witnessed by the diverse people who spoke on poverty reduction at the public meeting, Chamberlain said it will take everyone in the community to contribute to the elimination of Hamilton's dire poverty needs.

"As individuals become more and more aware, and become more aware of their role in it, we will find funding," he said.

Chamberlain also wanted to tap into Hamilton's much vaunted volunteer spirit which could greatly reduce the community's poverty rate. "It's a long-term problem, it's a long-term solution set," he said.

"We are not talking about one year, five years, this is multi-, multi- years. We need to have the commitment (from council and the people on the roundtable) and the risk taking of individuals to succeed."

Community must battle poverty together

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Social service representatives say poverty will be reduced in Hamilton through recommended targeted goals.

"I'm a firm believer in targets," said Mark Chamberlain, president and chief executive officer of PictorVision, and chair of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. "I'm a firm believer in measurements, and I'm a firm believer in defining the outcomes that we are looking for.

"But to actually suggest what those numbers are right now, is too early."

Slashing Hamilton's estimated 20 per cent poverty rate, the highest in Ontario, should be the city's top priority, community activists demanded during a recent four-hour public meeting.

Darryl Skidmore, of the Burlington-Hamilton United Way, Jeff Wingard of the Social Planning and Research Council, and Denise Brooks, Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre, were among about 30 people who made presentations to councillors. They told politicians that programs are in place to provide valuable assistance to people living below the poverty line. But more needs to be done to not only offer more assistance, but to eliminate poverty from the city, they said.

Dorothy Spence, a principal with the Hamilton Catholic School Board, said schools are already offering programs to help children who are living in poverty.

Prevention important

Noor Nizam, who arrived from Sri Lanka to Hamilton and battled racism and poverty, told councillors about his struggles against stereotypes and the challenge of finding jobs to support his family, until he finally emerged from income support programs. "Prevention is important," he said to thunderous applause.

He was also grateful to local social service agencies, such as the Hamilton Community Foundation, for assisting his daughter in seeking higher education.

"Council should provide more money for people in poverty," he said.

The number of Hamilton people living near or below the poverty line remains daunting, representatives of the roundtable said.

The roundtable group, in a preliminary report, stated that about one-half of Hamilton's poor are from families with children, or lone adults or couples, numbering about 47,975. About 13,000 families are living in poverty, including 6,430 families with children under the age of 18.

Hamilton's poor families are supporting about 25,000 children under the age of 18, including 8,385 children under the age of six years.

Other people living in poverty include Hamilton's native population, seniors living on fixed incomes, and renters.

Joe-Anne Priel, general manager of Community Services told council that the roundtable's goals include reducing infant mortality, teen pregnancies, school dropout rates, and food bank usage. They would like to see increases in education levels and more participation in cultural and athletic activities.

"There has been a lot of passion brought to our attention, a lot of awareness, a lot of need," said Mayor Larry Di Ianni. "We recognize we have to bring the groups together to reduce poverty and we will be judged on how we do."

Chamberlain said the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, which is scheduled to release its report and recommendations to council in the spring, is leaning towards establishing a poverty network system where every sector of the community is involved in halting poverty, from business, to social service agencies, to the city.

Creating awareness

"With better coordination, better articulation of the issues, and potential solutions to it, more money may be required but (as we) start to look at those situations, you move from the costs kind of thinking to investment," said Chamberlain.

As witnessed by the diverse people who spoke on poverty reduction at the public meeting, Chamberlain said it will take everyone in the community to contribute to the elimination of Hamilton's dire poverty needs.

"As individuals become more and more aware, and become more aware of their role in it, we will find funding," he said.

Chamberlain also wanted to tap into Hamilton's much vaunted volunteer spirit which could greatly reduce the community's poverty rate. "It's a long-term problem, it's a long-term solution set," he said.

"We are not talking about one year, five years, this is multi-, multi- years. We need to have the commitment (from council and the people on the roundtable) and the risk taking of individuals to succeed."