By Arielle Johnson
Our City of Dallas is tied in third place with the City of Phoenix when it comes to the child poverty rate. It has recently been reported that within a year, our percentage of child poverty dropped by 6%, but this still does not make a dent in the problem our city has to face until we find viable solutions to our problem. At a Poverty Forum which was held at Friendship West Baptist Church this past Monday, the head of the church, Pastor Frederick Haynes, was one of the first people to address the audience of community members by saying, “It looks like Dallas is thriving, but in the shadows, there are children living in poverty. I’m looking for facts and figures showing members of the community moving up rather than out. Have our numbers dropped because people haved moved up or moved out?” Honestly, without knowing the facts, it makes it difficult to fully address the true problem.
Here are some of the other statistics that were presented to the crowded room of attendees who came to participate in the Community Forum. 24.6% of the population is making less than $25,000/yr, 50% of the households make less than $50,000/year, 19.4% of the population is living in poverty, and 20% of the population has a 9-12th grade education. Of course these are not all of the numbers from the research conducted to determine if things are getting better or worse, but some of the most important. After presenting these percentages to the audience, Councilman Casey Thomas, who is in charge of District 3 in Dallas, placed heavy emphasis on some of the drivers of poverty, then immediately opened the floor to hear what the community had to say. The drivers he mentioned were: low education attainment, high teen birth rates, lack of affordable transportation, lack of affordable housing, lack of home ownership and a decline in median income.
Although it was not mentioned in the presentation as a driver in the presentation, Mr. Petrie, a well known member of the community made sure he made eye contact with as many members of the audience as when he said, “There is an economic embargo against Blacks in Dallas and it has been affecting us for many years. We need to have the right leadership to stand up for us.”
Shortly after Mr. Petrie spoke, Sheena Foster, a representative of the District of Columbia, who works with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition mentioned oppressors of our people need to be held accountable. And more banks need to be in the community in order to lend money to the community. They cannot lend to a community if the community is not considered to be a part of the community it serves. There are only a handful of banks in the African-American communities, but they are often overcrowded which forces our people to do their banking in other areas. We have to get more banks in the area.
Heath also spoke and said, “We come out to the meetings but there is no follow-up . We have to make sure we are disseminating the information. Our kids spend more time on the virtual person as opposed to the real person. They have an obligation to do more. ”
There are so many different factors involved with why we are where we are today, and numerous opinions about how to rise above our situation, but as Mr. mentioned. We are needing that follow-up and planning. With no exaggeration, there were approximately 25-30 non-profit founders in the room and all with services which are greatly needed. If all of them partnered with each other, our efforts would be more impactful.
Starting today, there will be a team of community organizers going into various housing complexes to provide job opportunities to the residents by bringing the employers to them. The first Community Housing Complex Job Fair will be held today, October 11 at 7251 Chaucer Place. Additional dates and locations are as follows: October 19 from 2 -5 pm at Brandon Mills located 8081 Marvin D. Love Freeway, October 25 from 11-2 p.m. at Hickory Ranch located at 7905 Marvin D. Love Freeway, October 21 from 11-1 p.m. at Park Village, located 7575 S. Westmoreland Rd. and November 2 from 12-3 p.m. at Broadmoor located at 3900 Investor Drive. Anyone seeking further information about these job fairs can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 214-557-8871.