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Dubuque city leaders put together plan to begin addressing city’s poverty issues

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 7:26 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Access to safe and affordable housing, transportation, paying rent, and finding affordable childcare are just some of the issues people dealing with poverty face in Dubuque.

Now Dubuque city leaders are trying to move ahead with a plan, called the Equitable Poverty Reduction and Prevention Plan, to address those concerns.

Wally Wernimont, planning services manager, said the committee spoke with over 400 people before coming up with the plan.

“What we heard during the plan is that there are a lot of agencies that are working on very specific details that may address the need of someone that is experiencing poverty and everyone is kind of working on a parallel track, but there really is not a coordinating agency to kind of take that input of addressing multiple goals and trying to focus those efforts in certain areas,” Wernimont said.

To solve that, the city is looking to create the Office of Shared Prosperity and Neighborhood Support. The office would replace the role of the neighborhood development specialist but would not give direct service to people experiencing poverty.

“Just kind of this overseeing agency to help look from like a 10,000 up elevation looking down and trying to understand how these organizations can be coordinated together to help with greater impact on individuals,” Wernimont said.

Wernimont added that he has already heard from multiple agencies interested in the idea.

“We have already had these agencies reach out to us and provide us information about, ‘This is how we can help you here’; ‘We are focused on this, can you help us with marketing and communication and reaching out to other organizations?’” Wernimont said.

Wernimont said implementing the plan would cost the city just over $135,000. City council members will review the plan at budget hearings beginning this week.

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