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Oct. 1 – City Manager releases list of City’s expenditures for poverty reduction; Aldermen challenge poverty stats by challengers

Category: 2018 Local and State Elections

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

October 1, 2015 – It’s been a big topic by candidates for office in City of Savannah’s upcoming municipal elections:  What has the current City Council members done to fight the city’s persistent poverty levels.  And what IS the level of poverty.

At Thursday’s City Council Workshop, both Aldermen Estella Shabazz and Van Johnson challenged the level of poverty statistics being cited by challengers. Both stated that accurate levels of poverty must be analyzed by looking at Census tract data that aligns with the District lines in order to arrive at the correct levels.

One candidate for office has made public statements at debates and candidates nights that poverty in one district on the Westside is at 60%, but Alderman Shabazz states that census data shows it is 19%, as an example of inaccurate information being disseminated to the public.   

The Savannah City Manager, at the request of members of the City Council at recent workshop on poverty and housing, has released a summary report on the City’s 2015 poverty reduction expenditures and initiatives. The list released includes:

-   $342,720: Step Up Poverty Reduction Initiative

-   $3,930,715: Community Development Block Grant spending, including:

                        - $220,181 allocation for poverty reduction job training programs

- $1,069,917 for low income housing and rental repair

- $1,163,749 for affordable housing development and low-income homebuyer assistance

-  $188,457 for homeless prevention services

-  $297,914: Moses Jackson Advancement Center

-  $457,887: YouthBuild job training and GED program

-  $2,748,100: Coastal Workforce Investment Board Adult and Dislocated Worker Program (employment and training services across CWIB region)

-    $592,731: CWIB youth workforce development services and Summer Work Experience program (includes entire CWIB region)

Historically, according to the City Manager, the following has been spent or supported:

  • From 2004-2014, the City of Savannah and its development partners have redeveloped 1,067 vacant parcels into affordable housing across Savannah.

  • The City of Savannah has begun including language in RFPs for major construction projects that contractors “develop and implement effective on-the-job training opportunities for Youth Build participants and other unskilled participants of Workforce Development Programs as defined by the City.”

Cutter also released data on the number of people assisted from 2012 to 2014 by the Community Development Block Grants programs, including:

  • 854: Persons assisted through poverty reduction programs (education, job training, employment assistance, life training)

  • 3,814: Persons assisted through other human services program (case management, fair housing, homebuyer education)

  • 11,431: Persons assisted through homeless services programs

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