The Winston-Salem Poverty Thought Force delivered a 60-page report to the city council and Mayor Allen Joines on how to reduce the poverty level in Winston-Salem.
The report included 56 recommendations.
One of the recommendations included creating a position for a “poverty czar,” someone who will coordinate current anti-poverty programs in the community and help implement new ones. Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines agreed with that recommendation and moved to make it happen as soon as possible.
“What we found out was there are a lot of initiatives underway but maybe weren’t very coordinated,” he said. “So we’ll be moving forward to hopefully get that position filled in the next few months."
The city’s Poverty Thought Force spent the last 15 months coming up with these ideas and recommendations to lower Winston-Salem’s poverty rate, which currently sits at 23 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Joines blamed changes in the economy for the city's current poverty level.
“Many of the manufacturing jobs have gone away and have been replaced by some service sector type jobs, some of which are good but a number of them don’t pay the wages that the manufacturing sector paid,” he said.
Joines said it may be a while before some of the recommendations are put into action in the county.
“It’s going to be a mixed bag because some of them are much more complex and some are a little easier to do,” he said. “So I say that the time frame is going to be a few months to a few years.”
In October 2015, Joines along with Councilman Derwin Montgomery and Wake Forest University Provost Rogan Kersh announced the formation of the Poverty Thought Force and tasked the group with coming up with recommendations that were both impactful and feasible in reducing the poverty level.
Since 2013, Winston-Salem has had the highest poverty rate among North Carolina’s five largest cities, despite percentage drops over the years. In 2013, the rate was 27 percent.