05/14/18 — Wayne Forward addresses poverty

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Wayne Forward addresses poverty

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on May 14, 2018 9:16 AM

Wayne Forward, a task force aimed at reducing poverty in the county, will host a public event Tuesday at the Goldsboro Event Center.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., the Wayne Forward task force will present the results of poverty surveys, recently distributed in an effort to better gague people's opinions about poverty and its possible causes. The surveys also included visits to homes in different areas of the city, with the greatest concern being voiced by people living in more impoverished areas.

The event will also involve breaking into groups where participants will be able to focus on identified problems and seek for possible solutions.

The task force has identified four areas of focus -- education, jobs, health and affordable housing -- that need to be addressed to help alleviate or reduce poverty, said Matthew Whittle, Wayne Forward, co-chairman and Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro-Wayne executive director.

"This is a grassroots effort here," Whittle said. "It's a community led effort."

N.C. Poverty Research Fund recently released a report that found 25 percent of Goldsboro residents living in poverty. The state Budget and Tax Center also reports that 20.6 percent of residents in Wayne County live in poverty, at a higher rate than the state average of 15.4 percent.

The poverty research report has generated a heightened awareness and action from the community, with the Task Force's first meeting in February drawing close to 100 people interested in making a difference. Whittle said the poverty report has created a "window of opportunity" for local action.

"The end goal is to offset that 25 percent poverty rate in Goldsboro and that (20) percent rate in Wayne County," Whittle said. "Twenty to 25 percent is clearly too high."

An acceptable goal is to cut the poverty rate in half in areas of the city and county where figures show poverty is affecting 40 to 50 percent of residents, Whittle said. Another goal would be to reduce poverty to at least the state average in Wayne County.

"That would be a huge step," Whittle said. "That's also something that would not happen in a year."

The Tuesday event is the second community meeting of the Task Force, which has goals outlined through the end of the year. During the summer, two to three smaller meetings will be held that will focus on ideas and solutions generated from the Tuesday event.

In the fall, the task force will present a report to the community that focuses on ways to combat poverty in each of the four areas. Then, the focus will shift toward working on solutions.

"We want to identify solutions before moving on to the next thing," Whittle said.

Anyone interested in becoming more involved in the effort can contact Whittle and other co-chairpersons, including Patricia Beier, WAGES executive director, and Michele Wiggins at the Goldsboro Housing Authority. The task force is interested in more involvement from members of the faith community and area businesses, as well as local elected officials.