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Anti-poverty advocates announce policy agenda

Noelle Evans
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren was among the speakers at a news conference held at the Central Library on Thursday.

The Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, (RMAPI) is out with its policy agenda for this year, calling for actions that organization hopes can help address the root causes of poverty.

They include a call to state government to do more to help working families, by helping them find ways to pay for childcare, and providing better transportation choices.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said it’s important to realize that a lot of people living hand-to-mouth are already working multiple jobs.

“One of the saddest aspects of poverty is that many people who live in poverty have jobs; sometimes they have 2 or 3 jobs; they’re working and earning money, but the circumstances of their lives force them to make impossible choices,” Warren said.

One of the points in that platform calls on the state to end driver’s license suspension for unpaid fees and fines.

Jerome Underwood, who heads up Action for a Better Community in Rochester, said the current laws caused particular burdens on low income people.

“The majority of the driver’s licenses that are being suspended are in the poorest neighborhoods, the people who can least afford it. Because when you don’t have that license, it precludes you from doing a lot of things that boost your economic sustenance,” Underwood said.

Both Warren and Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, who just took office in January, pledged to work together on anti-poverty efforts.

At a Thursday news conference held at the Central Library, the anti-poverty advocates also reminded low and moderate income people that there are free tax preparation services that are available through the Empire Justice Center.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
Noelle E. C. Evans is an education reporter/producer with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.