Washington announces 10-year plan to dismantle poverty

Washington
Photo Credit: Gov. Jay Inslee/Washington's Poverty Reduction Work Group, Twitter

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee’s Poverty Reduction Work Group announced plans for a 10-year plan to dismantle poverty in the state of Washington.

According to the press release, 1.75 million Washingtonians have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level. They say this is enough people to fill the Seattle Seahawks’ home, Lumen Stadium, 25 times.

Statistics from the report say that 37% of people in Franklin Co. are living 200% below the federal poverty line as of 2014-2018. 28% of people in Benton Co. are 200% below the poverty line. That rate sharply inclines to 45% of Yakima County.

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Considering the harsh extenuating circumstances imposed by the pandemic, Washington families are struggling now more than ever. The team’s final blueprint for this 10-year plan included the following excerpt on Page 1:

Washington state cannot reach its full potential until our residents can. That is why Governor Inslee created a Poverty Reduction Work Group (PRWG) and tasked it with creating a comprehensive 10-year plan to reduce poverty and inequality in Washington state.

The plan is subdivided into eight separate strategies and recommendations as outlined on Page 15, Figure 8 of the document:

  1. Undo Structural Racism
  2. Balance Power
  3. Increase Economic Opportunity
  4. Ensure Foundational Wellbeing
  5. Prioritize Urgent Needs
  6. Build a Holistic Continuum of Care
  7. Decriminalize Poverty
  8. Prepare for the Future of Work

Each strategy is broken down into a detailed analysis of ways to enact these recommendations. Sub-strategies are later broken down by how costly each concept is estimated to be.

For example, a low-cost strategy that makes progress toward defeating poverty is removing residency barriers for college students with refugee status. A more expensive step is increasing accessibility and affordability of housing and child care for student parents in the vicinity of college campuses.

The conclusion of this document, which can be found on Page 57, best described the essence of the plan’s potential:

“Now is the time to invest in an economy underwritten by equity, in which all Washingtonians have their foundational needs met and the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. Fortunately, we have a plan to meet the moment and build a just and equitable future for all.

…The bold solutions presented in this report will require fearless leaders willing to champion the urgency of now and a strong commitment to elevate the expertise and influence of people experiencing poverty and to center race and intersectionality in all aspects of policy development and systems change. Through this process we built trust where it didn’t exist before, with individuals who have been let down before — we cannot let them down. We hope you will join us”

The accompanying graphs, charts, lists and statistics provided give extensive background into the history of wage inequality and poverty in Washington state.

For more information on the program, visit the website here, or read the 10-year plan here.

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