It sounds like the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative will be less about rolling out new programs and more about making what we have work better.
Leaders of the efforts today announced the appointment of 150 local people to serve on six working groups that will tackle health and nutrition; housing; safe neighborhoods; jobs and workforce development; education; and justice-judicial. The names will be familiar to many Rochesterians.
Feedback is also being sought from people living in poverty or who have emerged from poverty and are receiving some form of assistance to see what works well and what doesn’t.
The initiative will be led by Dr. Leonard Brock, who is currently with the Children’s Agenda. Brock’s resume also includes the Community Place of Greater Rochester, where he was vice president for community partnerships and associate vice president of youth development, among other titles at the agency. Brock will be paid $95,000 a year. More staff, including a deputy director, have yet to be hired.
The initiative is operating with an initial $500,000 budget, which seems paltry when measured against the size and depth of the community’s poverty problem. But at today’s press conference, State Assembly member Joe Morelle said that he believed that the state would be open to providing more money as long as the initiative shows progress.
Morelle, Rochester Mayor Lovely Ann Warren, and County Executive Maggie Brooks said that much is already being done to address poverty in the community, but that the efforts tend to take place in isolation or address only one part of a multidimensional problem. The goal of the anti-poverty initiative is to remove the barriers and to get everyone working together to finally move the needle, Brooks said.
The initiative is adhering to an aggressive timeline, Morelle said. Interim reports from the working groups should be ready by the end of June, he said.