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Fighting Poverty in a Pandemic: A Virtual Town Hall

In this virtual town hall held on Facebook Live, community leaders discuss the landscape of poverty during the pandemic. [ideastream]
In this virtual town hall held on Facebook Live, community leaders discuss the landscape of poverty during the pandemic. [ideastream]

Cleveland is the poorest large city in the country, according to 2019 data from the US Census Bureau. That means there are more than 114,000 people living in poverty in our region, with persistent child poverty, and with poverty among seniors on the rise. The pandemic has made it harder for our city’s most vulnerable residents to get access to the resources they need, as widespread unemployment amplified the demand for food and child care assistance, job training, housing and other basic needs. 

The last year has also seen constant changes in aid by local, state and federal governments that can be hard for people to navigate. For instance, Ohio opted to end the extra federal unemployment insurance that gave those looking for work an extra $300 a week. That ran out the last weekend of June. But in July, millions of families will start to see monthly payments from the federal government in the form of the new, expanded child tax credit, which experts suggest could help lift many families out of poverty.

This hour on The Sound of Ideas, we’re going to talk about how the pandemic impacted the landscape for those living in poverty, and how community partners stepped in to help meet that demand. We’ll discuss the outstanding gaps in the system that need to be addressed, such as the benefits cliff, and what the pandemic revealed about how close so many of us are to being unable to make ends meet. 

We’ll hear two different panels during the next hour, first we’ll focus more on how basic needs like food and healthcare access were impacted during the pandemic. Then, we’ll focus more on employment and education. 

Dale Anglin, Vice President for Programs, The Cleveland Foundation

Frank Brickner, Interim CEO, OhioMeansJobs Cleveland-Cuyahoga County

Jacklyn Chisholm, Ph.D., President and CEO, Step Forward

John Corlett, President and Executive Director, The Center for Community Solutions

Susan Fuehrer, President of the Institute for H.O.P.E.™, The MetroHealth System

Victor Ruiz, Executive Director, Esperanza

Natoya Walker Minor, Deputy General Manager, Administration and External Affairs, Greater Cleveland RTA

Kristin Warzocha, President and CEO, Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Rachel is the supervising producer for Ideastream Public Media’s morning public affairs show, the “Sound of Ideas.”