Poverty Awareness Month In Lakewood

On January 3rd, Lakewood City Council unanimously voted to approve Resolution 2022-62, introduced by Councilmembers Sarah Kepple and Tristan Rader, designating January 2023 as Poverty Awareness Month In Lakewood. The resolution recognizes that poverty is a root cause of many issues that people face, including crime and inadequate access to education, healthcare, and safe, affordable housing; and that it is important for the City of Lakewood to raise awareness about poverty and its far-reaching negative impacts in our community and to recommit to policies, protections and initiatives that can improve the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors.

January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month, a month dedicated to spreading awareness, understanding, and perspective on the conditions and suffering of our fellow citizens and fellow humans. The US Census Bureau reports that the official poverty rate in 2021 was 11.6%, which is 37.9 million people living in poverty. The recently completed Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) report brings to light the impact of poverty in our own community. As you read this edition of the Observer, you will see some of the economic disparities that came to light from the Lakewood CHNA surveys, focus groups, and interviews along with data from the US Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates.

There are different definitions of poverty throughout the world. A helpful one from the United Nations states, “poverty is the inability of having choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity.”  This is a powerful reminder that not everyone – anywhere – has the same opportunities. We need to recognize this before we can dare to hope to change it. Awareness is the first step towards addressing poverty in Lakewood.  

Perhaps Nelson Mandela said it best in a now famous speech delivered in 2005 at the Make Poverty History rally in London, when he stated, “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”

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Volume 19, Issue 2, Posted 12:31 PM, 01.18.2023