Poverty Reduction in Athens, GA

Athens has 38% poverty, but only 4.1% unemployment. We are a community of working poor, people that wake up everyday and fuel the prosperity of our town, but are denied the right to a fair wage. As a result, 40% of children suffer in poverty and 1 in 5 families is living in food insecurity. For too long, we have chosen to invest in industries that do not produce fair and living wages: hospitality, entertainment, recreation. It is time for our city to take a deliberate effort to invest in improvements for those experiencing poverty and low-wages.

When the City of Athens and Clarke County unified, our charter promised a comprehensive anti-poverty program that, to this day, hasn’t been brought to fruition. Now and when elected, I will be committed to ensuring the funding of this program so this city can begin serving our own, ensuring the growing wealth of our community truly lifts all boats. It’s time we keep this promise.

Since the beginning of this campaign, we have advocated for public policies that alleviate poverty and income inequality. It has been our chief concern, summarized in our constant refrain: Opportunity and Justice for All.

“Opportunity and Justice for All” is more than a slogan. For the broad, growing coalition that supports our movement, it is the expectation and demand that will guide us throughout this campaign and my time as commissioner. That coalition knows that when our campaign wins a seat at the table, so do they. Together, we recognize poverty is our greatest local challenge in Athens. It is the reason we fight. It is also the reason we will never give up.

To address these concerns, we would need to implement broad, bold, and progressive policies:

We must fight for our right to pass a fair and living wage, while incentivizing local businesses to pay a living wage in the meantime.

We must pass Fare Free Bus Service and increase general fund investments in local transportation infrastructure.

We must support our local school systems through increased community involvement.

We must increase local job skills training.

We must address access to childcare and proper youth development programs.

Because so much of our poverty is tied to discrimination, we must pass a civil rights committee committed to increasing our HRC Municipal Equality Index.

(Click here for a breakdown of the Athens-Clarke Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Score)

We must advocate for annual poverty measurements that are tied to commission districts, so that our elected officials are properly held accountable for the quality of life for the people they represent.

Athens is America’s Poorest College town. As a Commissioner, Tommy will demand that every single policy or ordinance directly addresses poverty and income inequality. Because those issues are so deeply tied to discrimination, he will also demand that each action of the commission directly confront the systemic discrimination in our community.

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