Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Poverty Target

Today in the Health Energy and Environment committee, we discussed an amendment to the Sustainability Indicator on "Employment and Poverty," which responds to a staff direction I moved last month. It establishes a new target indicator for reducing the gap in poverty rate between Minneapolis minority and white residents. According to the latest statistics (2008) 12.9% of white Minneapolis residents live at or below the federal poverty line, while 36% of non-whites in Minneapolis live at or below the poverty line.

The 2009 Poverty Guidelines level depends on the number of people in your family. For a single adult it's $10,830; for a couple it's $14,570; for 3, $18,310 and for 4 it's $22,050. While our goal should be, and mine is to

Here is the new goal that hope will pass the full Council on December 4.

"Reduce the percentage of Minneapolis minority residents living in poverty from the 2008 Census Bureau reported average of 36% to that of the 2008 metropolitan minority average of 21% by 2014."

I think that this, along with the target we already passed - "Reduce the percentage of employed Minneapolis residents living in poverty from the 2008 baseline of 10.1% to 7% by 2014" - do a good job of articulating goals that I think is widely shared. Minneapolis residents should not have to live in poverty. Minneapolis workers should make a decent living, enough to keep them out of poverty, and it is time close the racial gap in pverty and employment in our City.

We are also overdue, in my opinion, taking a serious and close look and the racial economic disparities in our City --- disparities that are worse in Minneapolis than in St, Paul, the Metro area, the state, the nation and almost every other City in the country.

Here is a partial list:

The percent of whites living in poverty in the nation in 2008 was 9.3 %. The percent of nonwhites living in poverty is 20.7%. The difference in the state is 7.4% (whites) vs 22.8% for nonwhites. In the 7 county metropolitan area it is 5.5 vs 21% St. Paul is 10 vs 31% and in Minneapolis it 12.9 % of whites live in poverty compared to 36% of non-whites.

Just having a measure that we will monitor and a target on how much we want to reduce the disparity is a step forward. I hope we will be able to use it to drive policy in the future.

These are aggressive targets, and I don't have any illusions that it will be easy for us to meet them. However, I believe that it's important to agree on our shared goals, and that the knowledge that we will be measuring our performance as a City against them will help motivate us to do the work necessary to make progress.


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