poverty

Andrew M. Allen, US Army/Flickr

Minnesota's not prone to hurricanes like we've seen ravage Texas, Florida and parts south recently, but our cold winters bring their own dangers.

Like carbon monoxide poisoning.  10 to 20 deaths and over 50 hospitalizations happen every year thanks to gas stoves, furnaces, water heaters or any other kind of fuel-burning device that's not properly vented, maintained or installed.

And carbon monoxide detectors aren't just a good idea; they're the law.

The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) provides an economic safety net for 70,000 kids and their parents, and it hasn't seen a funding increase since 1986.

The problem is, the program is what most people think of when they think of "welfare," and it strikes right to the heart of the resentment about "subsidizing people to do nothing."

And it's just that kind of misinformation that an event this evening, sponsored by Leaders Partnering to End Poverty, is hoping to correct.

©Lisa Johnson

Lee Stuart says two things over and over: housing first and kids don't choose to be poor.

The executive director of CHUM  is thinking of the 80 kids and their families housed at the Steve O'Neil Apartments, families that experienced long-term homelessness before finding a home at the  permanent supportive housing complex.

For the third time, the organizers of the Local Solutions to Poverty Candidate Forum turned the tables on the the folks running for office.  The candidates were given the questions a week in advance, but the actual questions were presented - along with personal stories - by seven different community members affected by poverty, homelessness or racism in the community.  And even with the questions delivered in advance, what they learned took the candidates by surprise.

Sharon Mollerus/Flickr

Project Homeless Connect just doesn't describe the attendees any more.

Joel Kilgour of the Loaves and Fishes Community says it's not just homeless folks that need help navigating the alphabet soup and red tape of local services and agencies; more and more people in poverty are in need of connection, too.

So the event returns this year with a new name and 34 agencies in one place, ready to give people a hand with everything from hair cuts to health care.

Yesy Belajar Memotrek/Flickr

Seatbelts, more responsible behaviour and a decline in drug abuse boosted Minnesota to #1 in the latest Kids Count report* ... and the state achieved that ranking even though the child poverty rate increased to 14%.  Trouble is, the child poverty rate nationally has increased even more dramatically.  So although there is something to celebrate with this latest report, it doesn't tell the whole story.