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Shifting from Awareness to Elimination

Last Thursday, I spent a good amount of the day preparing for inclement weather and freezing temperatures coupled with rain and snow. I grabbed a few goodies from the grocery store, pulled out a few extra blankets, flashlights in case of a power outage and made sure my household was prepared for the worst-case scenario. Even my furbaby was snuggled in his sweater and warm bed.

I felt good over the weekend. Everyone in my household was safe, well-fed and warm. All our immediate and basic needs were met and then some.

Then I began writing this column for the newsletter in recognition of January as National Poverty in America Awareness Month and immediately became incredibly sad. There are millions of Ohioans existing and surviving without their basic needs: food, clothing and shelter.

In the State of Poverty in Ohio Vulnerable to Disruption 2023 Report by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, Ohio’s poverty rate increased from 12.7% to 13.4%. The report further defines poverty and how basic needs, such as food, water, clothing, etc. are measured. The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), developed in 2010 considers factors that the official Federal Poverty Measure (FPM) does not consider. The FPM is based on three times the minimum food budget, a basic need category under the Supplemental Poverty Measure. Yet, a family of two adults and two school-age children in Ohio needs an annual income of at least 187% of the federal poverty level to be self-sufficient (State of Poverty in Ohio Vulnerable to Disruption, 2023).

As warriors in the fight against poverty, our awareness efforts this month and every day should be more than supporting families from poverty to self-sufficiency. We must use our voices to advocate for Ohio’s families, residents and our neighbors in local, state and national legislation. Frederick Douglass once said: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Our demand for equitable resources, funding and family rights in legislation and policies must be as loud as the disrespect and harm suffered by an estimated 1,579,000 Ohioans living in poverty.

Join Ohio Urban Community Action Network this year and lend your voice to the fight against poverty. We want to hear from you. We want to use you. We want to make demands at the statehouse that enough is enough and we require more for Ohio’s families.

This will be the last national Poverty in America awareness month campaign for us. We are on to a new campaign – POOR NO MORE! We are using new weapons and tools in the fight against poverty through better information systems, innovation, advocacy and prioritizing people.

Stay tuned for more information from the OUCAN Advocacy Committee led by Chairperson Bo Chilton. In the meantime, here is your immediate call to action:

  • Engage and empower your clients/consumers in advocacy and storytelling. Send us your client/consumer success stories of triumph, determination, and self-sufficiency.
  • Get to know the names, districts and committee appointments of your state representatives and congressional leaders.
  • Practice telling your own story. We are going to need truth tellers ready to speak up and speak out.
  • VOTE. VOTE. VOTE! And encourage others to vote. All elections matter and our individual voices make a collective impact.

With all of working together, millions of Ohioans will be Poor No More. Because, together we can!