By Nick Vaughn, Guest Columnist
There seems to be a common misconception nowadays when it comes to combating poverty and homelessness and it is that government housing propagates laziness, and the only true way to combat homelessness and poverty is to essentially cut off all assistance to them to stop government dependence.
I genuinely disagree with this thought, yet some of our local representatives seem to think that simply cutting poor people out of the market with inflationary costs on goods and cutting off government assistance will magically end poverty and homelessness.
This ill-fated thought process is honestly the manifestation of a broken system, one that perpetuates not laziness, but numbness; a system designed to be a safety net when we need a safety trampoline that can launch our fellow citizens into a lifetime of prosperity regardless of their background, gender, or race.
I’ve said it many times and I will say it again. City/business job training partnerships are a time-tested and proven way of allowing people to get the proper training they need for good paying jobs. In essence, a job training partnership would be structured in a way that the city would give incentives to businesses for providing job training to those who fit a certain criteria (whether it be homeless, impoverished, etc.). But the partnerships cannot end there. The city should be hosting job fairs with business sponsors so that people who might not otherwise be able to find a decent paying job in any other way because of transportation, lack of internet, or not having any proper interview clothes.
I also think that the private sector should be able to have more freedom when conducting their business. Often times I hear from business owners that if their property taxes were just (x) amount of dollars lower they could hire one or two more employees. These are small businesses like Kolkin Coffee and Coqui’s Cafe, not large corporations, that could be adding a modest amount to the workforce.
If you did not think this issue was pressing I have some news for you. Floyd County will be losing at least $550,000 annually that would otherwise be going towards transitional housing programs. Statewide we will be feeling a $1.3 million cut to these community programs. According to the News and Tribune, “Locally, the cuts hit The Salvation Army, which is closing its 16-unit housing program for now.” You can read more about that here: http://www.newsandtribune.com/news/homeless-funding-cuts-hit-southern-indiana/article_e02a0278-1e06-11e6-89d6-4bc5ec40aa00.html
It is beyond time for our city to act to begin combating homelessness and poverty here. Some of the council members just do not get it and should be held accountable in 2019. Of course there is plenty of time for them to begin to enact real change and real programs that can begin to curb poverty and homelessness. We should not be aiming to cut poor people out of our market especially when nothing has even been done to help them in the first place (unless you count rants about tearing down HUD housing).
Again, I am extending my olive branch to the mayor and city council. Please email or call me and I would love to help you craft some programs that could be helpful to our homeless and impoverished community members.
And with that, I leave you with the quote of the day: “Overcoming poverty is not gesture of charity, it is an act of justice” -- Nelson Mandela.
(As a side note, I recommend you try both Kolkin (on Charlestown Road) and Coqui’s Cafe (on the corner of Market and Bank Streets). They are both delicious, locally owned businesses. I highlighted them because they are two of my favorite local eateries.)