Sep 302008
 
Authors: Jessica Cline

The four candidates contending for the Larimer County Commissioner seat held a forum Tuesday night that aimed to share with the Fort Collins Community how they planned to alleviate poverty in Larimer County, which — according the U.S Census Bureau — has skyrocketed over the past decade.

Randy Eubanks, D – Fort Collins, said the county needs a proactive method to bring poverty rates back down, as Larimer County outpaces both the state and the nation in rising poverty rates.

“It is not only important for us to react but also to act,” Eubanks said, placing an emphasis on the necessity of attracting jobs to the area.

Steve Johnson, R – Fort Collins, echoed Eubanks’ statement, saying that employers in the area need to bolster training programs to make employment more accessible to the poverty-stricken.

“We need to have more tailored job training programs to bring in more employees,” he said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the past seven years, poverty in Larimer County has increased by 51.2 percent.

There are 34,176 people in the county living below the poverty line.

Nicolle Gregg, a representative of Pathways Past Poverty, a local poverty awareness campaign, said most, if not all, students at CSU fall below the poverty line.

“Most students would fall below the poverty line because they have little or no income coming in,” Gregg said.

“Students depend on their parents to help them make ends meet.”

Because of students’ dependence on parents, Gregg said it’s very hard to fit students into the poverty study.

Regardless, though, all college students are poor, she said.

Gregg said there are not yet opportunities for aid for students in the Pathways Past Poverty program.

But said she hopes there eventually will be. Pathways Past Poverty has eight different committees with a total of 156 community members working towards the poverty problem.

“We are concerned with the quality of help, and we are concerned with the sustainability of what we do,” Gregg said.

Martin Carcasson, the director and founder of the Center for Public Deliberation at CSU, works with Pathways Past Poverty with a team of CSU students to enhance local democracy through improved public communication and community problem solving.

His program teamed up with Pathways Past Poverty to find ways to deal with poverty and to start helping people become self-sufficient.

Since the start of Carcasson’s program, students from his center have been part of committees dedicated to developing goals to fight poverty and developing strategies to accomplish those goals.

Students have also been trained to help facilitate focus groups that have been held and have helped run various meetings, including recent forums, since the center first started.

“These students have been in charge of capturing the public voice,” Carcasson said.

The outcome of all of these goals to help poverty will not only help the community but will greatly benefit students as well.

If the goals are reached, he said, Larimer County will have better more reliable transportation, more and better jobs and job training, and more affordable housing.

“CSU will be a resource we lean on in the future,” Carcasson said.

Staff writer Jessica Cline can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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