UPDATE: City’s social co-ordinator looking at poverty reduction strategy

Jill Zacharias, Revelstoke’s Social Development Co-ordinator, is aiming to create a poverty reduction strategy for Revelstoke starting this fall.

Update follows original story

Jill Zacharias, Revelstoke’s Social Development Co-ordinator, is aiming to create a poverty reduction strategy for Revelstoke starting this fall.

Zacharias said the idea came from a meeting of the city’s social sector workers at the Hillcrest Hotel in the winter. At that meeting, Cathy Girling of Community Connections presented a whole host of statistics from the organizations various agencies

“She said one of the big underlying problems with a lot of the people they deal with on secondary issues – poverty is an underlying, core root people for some people living in Revelstoke,” said Zacharias.

The meeting at the Hillcrest revealed numerous statistics. Amongst them, food bank usage was up, the homeless outreach worker assisted 124 clients over the previous two years, the expense of meeting basic needs was up and in 2007, the last year that data was available, more than 800 households qualified as low-income.

There are several aims of the strategy. One is to establish a living wage index for Revelstoke that will look at the people’s incomes compared to the cost of living.

Zacharias is also looking at studying census data going back to 1996 and looking at income tax filings to see what the trends are over time.

“You look at things that are impacting your community and how that is affecting different people’s incomes,” she said.

To assist, she said she has contacted the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC) and the Learning Initiative for Rural and Northern BC (LIRN).

She said the former would help with the overall strategy while the latter would conduct the living wage analysis.

SPARC would assist by conducting workshops to see what indicators should be looked at and to look at the data.

“Then we can start community a conversation about specific strategies and what are the most impoirtant areas that we’d like to influence and what we can’t, what’s beyond our control,” said Zacharias.

The strategy is still pending grant funding but if all goes well, Zacharias hopes to start in September.

July 28 update: Zacharias emailed the Times Review on July 28 with the news that they were successful in getting grant funding for the project.

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