RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – 10 percent of the nation lives in poverty and in the city of Richmond that number more than doubles. A big reason Mayor Dwight Jones and the Richmond City Council are calling for the creation of a poverty commission.
Soon after taking office the mayor created an anti-poverty initiative. The city council also has a commission on poverty. The two are proposing to team up to create new joint policies to go after the root causes of poverty in Richmond.
From the homeless finding rest in Monroe Park, to the day to day survival in the city's courts; poverty is not hard to find if you go looking.
More than 23 percent of city residents live below the poverty level. In Henrico 11 percent. In Chesterfield it's 6 percent of the population.
"I think it's always been there it's easy to turn your back on the least and the left out, but I think that we're very concerned about trying to make a difference," said Mayor Dwight Jones.
The mayor met with several council members over lunch Monday. He says the commission on poverty will target specific communities like Mosby Court, trying to create job and education opportunities.
And with construction about to begin on a new city jail and three new schools, the mayor is pledging to keep a number of those jobs for the impoverished.
"We need to pair some of our most vulnerable young people. 18 to 24 with these master craftsman so that while we're building schools we're building a jail. They can get there and learn how to be a carpenter or plumber. And hopefully dig their way out of poverty," he said.
Small steps, all aimed at poverty reduction. City council members like Charles Samuels want those efforts to include seniors, the disabled and the homeless.
"I know that it's a concern in the city sometimes that we study things forever without actually implementing anything and I want to make sure that as we do actually go through this process, that we do actually make changes as we go," Samuels said.
The city council and mayor will work over the next month to appoint people to serve on this commission. Mayor Jones has said in the past, there are no easy fixes to this enormous problem, but he's making it a priority to try.