05 Mar VIDEO: Poverty 101 – Role of our cities & government
I feel like it’s half circumstance and half choice. You still have the ability to go out and go to school and go to work, if that’s what you really want to do to pull yourself out of poverty. But as far as like being born into it, that’s kind of out of our hands.
In my opinion, I don’t think it’s usually a choice, but it definitely can be.
I think it’s all about your will to work. Your determination, sometimes.
Some people choose to stay in that life form and some people choose to seek help and seek the steps to getting out of it.
I think we need a lot of more people to lift people up and to walk with them through their situations, to get them out of poverty.
What have you seen, have you seen, anything working well from even a government perspective or the city’s perspective as they look at addressing, obviously they have that mission of addressing poverty in the neighborhood as well, coming at it from a different angle, but how have you seen that working well?
You know, I’ll say this. I don’t think I’ve seen what I’m about to say, I haven’t seen it in a while, and boy, it worked beautifully for me. I’m glad to use myself as an example because it’s my story and I’m so grateful for it. But when I was in Atlanta as an urban youth, there was a program through the local government, it’s called SITA, and they provided resources for at-risk youth to work. And they partnered with local organizations, nonprofits, even ministries. And I was a benefactor of one of those programs where I was able to work eight weeks throughout the summer, received a paycheck each week, and I heard the gospel.
And so I believe if the local government is willing to link arms with the church or nonprofits and just understand boundaries, I totally get that and saying, well, we are not good in this area, but we’ll look to you, church or nonprofit ministry, to do these types of things, but we’ll provide the resources. You help with the relationship building, you help with programming in your area. I believe that’s a great partnership for beautiful things that happen in people’s lives like my own life, as well as others. I just believe that partnerships and collaboration is huge.
Yeah. I love that.
Yeah, because government can’t be the answer, but there are things that, the roles of government play, that the rest of the world can’t. Big ticket roles. I mean, you know, affordable housing, addressing affordable housing situation. There are organizations, non profit organizations, that are attempting to address affordable housing, and doing a good job, but on a very small scale. And I think the answer to your question is I don’t see a whole lot from government nowadays, but when it works, it’s when government says, we’re going to provide resources, not direct money, but we’re going to help with whatever wraparound services are needed in order for this family, for the parents and this family, single parent, double parent, whatever, to be able to work, which means we’re going to make sure that there’s quality daycare in town.
And then maybe there are vouchers for quality daycare. We’re going to make sure that there’s affordable housing and the reality is, is this very little of that goes on, right. You know, because I think for a long time, we looked at government as the solution, throughout the sixties and seventies with the great society, government was the solution. And even earlier than that in the thirties with the new deal, the government was the solution. And then we began to realize government wasn’t the solution. And I think the pendulum swung so far the other direction, that we got to the point where we thought maybe government doesn’t have anything to add at all. You know? And I think we need to swing it back into the middle and to say, there are certain things that government can do, like a city like Indianapolis.
When we look around at this building and what’s happening in our old neighborhoods, what lots of people in ministry decry, gentrification and everything else. But the reality is, if a city is going to have the revenue to provide services for the poor, there has to be some urban redevelopment. They have to have the property values go up in order to have tax revenue come in. You know, my friend, Bill Taft always says, there’s no such thing as a healthy city with only poor people in it.
You know? And so we have to have a mix, but when that revenue comes in the city, the government really needs to be spending it on the things that stabilize communities and a stable, affordable housing is one of those big ticket items that no ministry, as many houses, as habitat for humanity has built, the thousands and they might be up to millions by now, that’s still a relatively small dent in the housing need in a city like Indianapolis. And so, my answer to the question is I think there are roles that government can play and, unfortunately they’re not necessarily playing them effectively right now.
I have been encouraged by FSSA, that administers a lot of state programs, had over the last couple of years, had some really encouraging conversations with them, with their leadership about partnership and understanding kind of their role a little differently than I had heard before, which I was really encouraged with them reaching out to say, and understanding that organizations like Shepherd, like other churches have the relationships in the community. So how do you work? How does the state at the state level work in the context of relationships? They’ve got to be in partnership with churches, with other community centers, other nonprofit organizations. And so even that they were asking that question, and thinking through that at the state level was encouraging. It felt like a step in the right direction. And getting, kind of asking, for input was really encouraging. And then the other thing that I think of too is, on kind of the public safety side of things, we’ve had Shepherd specifically, but I know other places too, have had some, some really good conversations in partnership with INPD.
And one of the things that comes to mind is when they did this whole operation, new normal, where they went out into the neighborhood where their officers and with Shepherd’s staff and with Gleaners food bank, and they just went around to people’s houses and knocked on doors to see what their needs were, which was a lot different than what you typically have an INPD respond with. And so I think I’ve been, again, just encouraged by some of those partnerships and looking at how we can continue those kinds of relationships, where again, I think to your point, they use their expertise and we try to use our expertise to partner and work together on that is, I think there’s a lot of possibilities around that too.