Community input wanted on how to spend budget to help reduce poverty

Community input wanted on how to spend budget to help reduce poverty

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By Jillian Parker

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative is calling out to the community for their input in the decision-making process to help reduce poverty.

In Monday night’s town hall meeting, RMAPI launched their Participatory Budget Project. This $175,000 budget for the project will go toward programs and projects related to reducing poverty in the county.

“In order for real change or structural change to take place, you have to involve the members that are most impacted and affected. Top-down approaches do not work as it relates to population shifts. So we wanted to make sure that we were working across the continuum involving all peoples from all sectors and all walks of life to make this work,” said Leonard Brock, RMAPI executive director.

The project is designed and led by community representatives and gives the community an input in terms of project ideas and how to spend a portion of the budget.

“They’re going to be asked to generate ideas and learn more about how they can have a role as it relates to municipal decision making and being able to make decisions related to municipal budgets,” added Brock.

The goal of RMAPI is to reduce poverty by 50 percent within 15 years. The 2016 U.S. Census Report showed that Rochester is ranked 4th in terms of overall poverty and 1st in child poverty.

“Rochester has the highest rate of evictions and then when you look at lower income folks then that rate increases, so it’s doesn’t surprise me that our children are living in poverty and are homeless, but what does surprise me is when they come to school that way and there are limited issues to deal with the issue,” said Kimberly Smith, Rochester resident.

Smith is a 4th generation Rochesterian who says she feels empowered that her voice and her ideas will contribute to the project and she’s hoping it’s successful.

“Hopefully as we move past trauma and those structural racism issues and people will realize they do have a voice and can take the lead in impacting change,” added Smith.

There will be other meetings for brainstorming that the community can be on the lookout for from now through August. Those ideas will develop into formal project proposals and that will be put to a community vote.