Lancaster to form commission to study poverty

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Nearly one-third of residents in Lancaster live below the poverty line.

Now Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray has announced plans to study the problem and come up with solutions.

“People are driven into the city, lower income people,” Gray told ABC 27 News. “The question is what are we going to do about it?”

Gray calls his recent plan a step in the direction to answer that question. He’s announced plans to form a commission to study poverty and come up with solutions.

“We should educate people number one and number two we should see what we can do to alleviate those conditions,” he said.

Lancaster city’s poverty rate is nearly 30 percent, which is almost three times the rate of the county’s and nearly the same as Harrisburg’s poverty rate.

Gray said those aren’t going down and he said it’s time to take action.

“Now we’re going to see what we really can do in the way of policy and programs,” he told ABC 27 News.

The commission, Gray said, will be similar to the Lancaster Crime Commission the city formed in 2000. The crime commission came up with the ideas of installing cameras in the city.

Gray called the crime commission a huge success and he wants to see similar results.

“We might look for money to actually staff this commission,” he told ABC 27 News. “(And) to write a formal report on poverty in the city of Lancaster and how we can combat it.”

The new plan fits a goal set forth from the United Way of Lancaster County, which hopes is to cut poverty in half by 2025.

“The fact the Mayor is devoting resources is great to hear and hopefully those efforts in the city will help to expand efforts county-wide,” Adrienne Washington, Vice President of the United Way of Lancaster County, said.

Mayor Gray said the ultimate goal is to improve the living conditions in the city of Lancaster. He said that will happen with cooperation and a commission focusing on that goal.

“I’ve talked to the superintendent of schools she’s excited about it,” Gray said. “I’ve talked to some people in the business community and they’re excited about it. We’re moving with it.”

Gray said he is looking for suggestions about who should serve on the commission. You can leave suggestions with Lancaster City Hall by checking out their website.

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