Forum Highlights Poverty Problem

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner
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January 24, 2006

Poverty rears its ugly head all over our country, and Charlottesville is no different. It is a growing problem locally as well as nationally, as 40% of Charlottesville residents live below means that are considered "self-sufficient." Tonight a group met to take on this grpwing problem.

"I am disabled. I am a double amputee and I'm also a single parent. These things [and the fact] that I live in public housing affect me directly," said resident Tim Smith.

Smith and his son Juwan live in poverty. They are among the approximately 25% of Charlottesville residents that live below the poverty line. He spoke to a standing room crowd at the UVA Chapel to get the word out.

"I believe that a lot of people don't know that. For some reason, the information is not getting out there," said Smith.

Poverty rates across the U.S. have risen four straight years, with one in eight persons fitting that description. But even with those unbelievable numbers, many who attend were simply unaware.

"The statistics that they informed people of were really startling, and disappointing," said Marcie Dickson.

"It was very touching for me to see that. Being here as a student you don't realize sometimes what goes on outside the comforts of UVA," said Reginald White.

City Council Candidate Dave Norris attended the meeting and believes this needs to be near the top of the city's concerns.

"Make it a priority. That's really what needs to happen. If you have the will, the resources and ideas will follow," he said.

A fact that Marcie Dickson hopes to take to heart.

"I'm concerned about other people and I want to figure out ways that whatever I do in my career, it's actually helping someone else," she said.

This was one of four discusssions to be held on this issue. The next will be Thursday, January 26 at 6 p.m. at the Westhaven Community Center. This is all in an effort to raise awareness around the area.


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