Local Governments Look To Recharge 'War On Poverty'

Jul 6, 2018

Cities across Virginia are taking action against poverty.

Richmond has a city official dedicated to tackling poverty. Portsmouth has an initiative to come up with ways to help people in hard times. And Lynchburg is plotting out ways to give a helping hand to those at the bottom end of the economic ladder.

Fighting poverty has become a trend for local governments across Virginia.

“I think we go in waves because there was a War on Poverty that was nationwide years ago, and so this may be another recognition of the fact that we do have those who are in poverty and that the income gap has widened,” explained John Hughes.  Hughes is an assistant city manager in Lynchburg.

Poverty has always been around, and it’s likely to be around in the future. But Frank Shafroth at George Mason University says that doesn’t mean that local governments should sit around and accept it.

“It’s not possible to buy your way out. But it’s possible to say here’s what resources we have and can make available. What is the most strategic way we can use them to create the greatest benefit for these children.”

Coming up with those strategies isn’t cheap, though. The initiative in Portsmouth has come under fire for potentially paying tens of thousands of dollars to a consultant, who is being asked to come up with that strategic plan.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.