Institute of Politics

Suburban Poverty

In the summer of 2015, the Institute assembled a special advisory committee led by Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus Chair, Dan Frankel, and Pennsylvania House Majority Leader, Dave Reed, to examine the issue of suburban poverty in Southwestern Pennsylvania. To inform the deliberations of the committee, the Institute identified and invited regional experts to present and participate in the discussions. The committee’s work culminated in the development of a policy brief entitled “Poverty: Beyond the Urban Core,” which was released in September 2016.

The goal of the policy brief is to educate regional leaders on the changing demographics and landscape of poverty in Southwestern Pennsylvania by examining the unique obstacles that municipalities, human service providers, and nonprofits face while addressing poverty-related issues in the suburbs. The policy brief addresses the issues of housing, transportation, income inequality, and education, and provides recommendations to public, private, and nonprofit entities in their efforts to improve community outreach and help those living in poverty move towards self-sufficiency.

The policy brief recommends regulatory changes at the state level, legislative policy options, and guidance for nonprofit and community organizations at the local level. Administrative and policy options for community partners—outlined within the policy brief—may assist organizations in developing and implementing short- and long-term strategies to address barriers within their specific areas of focus.

Economic Impact of Food Insecurity Forum

The Institute continues to build on this work through the development of an educational forum devoted to addressing the economic impact of food insecurity throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. In partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Area Food Bank, the forum will address the data and network needs of food programs across the nation as presented in Feeding Hunger’s National report, Hunger in America 2014, as well as the local and state policy response to this issue. This forum will take place in the fall of 2017.


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