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Campaign to Stop the Idaho Poverty “Creep”

August 27, 2007

Despite the unemployment rate going down, poverty numbers keep increasing in Idaho. Now there's a new campaign to re-balance those statistics and reduce the number of Idahoans living in poverty by 50 percent by the year 2020. Marice Wilske with Catholic Charities of Idaho says it's especially troubling that the poverty rate among Idahoans who work full-time has been going up.

"Rising food prices, rising housing costs, health insurance costs -- everything is going up except salaries."

Wilske says the group is working with legislators, charity groups, social workers, and businesses to come up with solutions to reduce the poverty rate. "Living wage" laws and tax policies are two ideas already being explored.
As Wilske puts it, nobody wins when people are in poverty. Impoverished people pay less in taxes, rely more on taxpayer-funded services, and lean on donation-supported charities.

"Poverty affects everybody in the community, and because of that, everybody in the community has a responsibility to deal with the problem."

The U.S. Census Bureau will release updated poverty numbers this week. Wilske says it's predicted that more than 12 percent of Idahoans will be on the poverty list. In 2003, it was 10 percent.

For more information the campaign, visit www.catholiccharitiesidaho.org.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - ID