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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Florida Poverty Agenda Set for 2012   

MIAMI, FL - The 2010 U.S. Census reported the Florida poverty rate at 15 percent and Miami-Dade County poverty rate at 17.7 percent. According to a CNN Money.com article, "Poverty Pervades the Suburbs," poverty in Florida spikes the nation's poverty rate and is now at the highest level since 1994.

Read the article "Poverty pervades the suburbs" here.

Last week, Miami-Dade Community Action Agency (CAA) held its second annual Florida Association for Community Action's (FACA) Symposium on Poverty. The symposium is part of the legislative process to establish the agenda for a Florida Commission on Poverty.

John Edwards, who directs Community Action Agency efforts to help poverty-impacted South Florida, says it's time.

"Florida has no strategic plan, no comprehensive plan whatsoever, for getting people out of poverty within our state."

Newly elected Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a plan to fight poverty - a seven-point plan over seven years - and get people back to work. Although Florida has lost 800,000 jobs since 2008, according to recent Florida figures, the governor says the state is making progress on the unemployment front.

"Unemployment has dropped from 12 percent - which is the highest it's been on record, the month before I came into office - down to 10.7 percent. We've bucked the national trend."

While Edwards hopes the governor's proposals bring jobs back, he also urges that a new poverty commission be established to assist the thousands of children and adults scrimping for food and shelter.

"What we need is a long-term strategy to help low-income people in our state and the neighborhoods in which they live."

Emphasis will never be placed on the poor without the establishment of a statewide commission designed to recognize the issues and recommend the changes needed to attack poverty, he adds. 

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