The Tri-Valley Anti-Poverty Collaborative (TVAPC) hosted an informational event on October 26 at the Rosewood Commons Conference Center in Pleasanton sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and Hacienda Helping Hands. About 120 individuals from the business community, government, non-profit and safety net services, school districts and faith community were in attendance.
The keynote address was given by Elizabeth Kneebone, Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution Metro and Director of Research at UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation. Elizabeth provided an update on the challenges of suburban poverty, especially as related to Bay Area housing costs. Her talk focused on the shift of poverty from the urban core to the suburbs and the resulting challenges. Kneebone and colleagues’ work at the Brookings Institution indicate that safety net services, funding, and philanthropy are still heavily concentrated in urban environments creating strain on suburban non-profit service providers, schools and health clinics.
The program also included a panel of local leaders about their successes and challenges addressing poverty in the areas of Health, Education, Food Access, and Housing.
Sue Compton, CEO of Axis Community Health, spoke about the increased need for health care services in the Tri-Valley . Even though Axis Community Health recently expanded their clinic in Pleasanton, they are already at capacity. Susan also cited concerns regarding proposed changes and/or cutbacks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how those changes might negatively impact thousands of Tri-Valley residents.
Dr. Kelly Bowers, Superintendent of Livermore Valley Joint Union School District, spoke about the importance of education as a vehicle out of poverty. Dr. Bowers noted that additional services and programs for students[KM1] who are low-income and sometimes homeless can assist children with meeting both their basic needs and increasing their educational performance.
Suzan Bateson, Executive Director of the Alameda County Community Food Bank spoke about the high cost of living, including food, in the Bay Area. Many struggling residents are forced to decide between spending money on food or needed medicine and other essentials. The Alameda County Community Food Bank has partnered with local organizations to make obtaining healthy food easier for Tri-Valley residents.
Mary Murtaugh, Executive Director of EAH Housing spoke about the housing challenges facing both poor and middle-income residents in the Tri-Valley community. With ever increasing rents outstripping increases in income, it becomes a greater obstacle for some residents to remain housed each passing month. There are logistical and political challenges to increasing affordable housing options. Community commitment to creating affordable housing is critical.
The event also included informational booths from key partners including non-profits and safety net service, faith-based organizations and school district representatives.