Lawmakers and Anti-Poverty Advocates Thank Governor for New Directive Addressing Intergenerational Poverty

Friday, November 17, 2017

            Olympia – Today, November 17, 2017, Governor Jay Inslee announced a new executive directive that will help disrupt intergenerational poverty for Washingtonians. The order directs his departments to form a work group solely focused on poverty reduction.

            With this order, Washington will join other states including Utah, Tennessee, and Colorado in taking meaningful steps to thoroughly address and evaluate systemic intergenerational poverty. The order directs executive agencies to work together to address the root causes of long-term poverty, and to target programs and state investments.

            The directive builds upon legislative efforts championed by Rep. David Sawyer and Sen. Hans Zeiger to start a state-level conversation on ending poverty by examining and addressing the root causes across generations. The order is designed to encourage participation from not just state agencies and lawmakers, but also stakeholders, employers, people who are living in and experiencing poverty, and other communities.

            “As an organization that provides legal services for low-income communities, we’re excited by this new focus on addressing long-term poverty,” said Michael Althauser, an Attorney with Columbia Legal Services. “This order meets a pressing need by creating a forum for collaboration among agencies, stakeholders, and the clients that experience these issues on the ground.”

            “More than a third of the individuals served by our statewide network of food banks are infants and children. We applaud Gov. Inslee for this decisive action that will help our state identify effective strategies to end the injustices that perpetuate poverty,” said Thomas Reynolds, CEO of Northwest Harvest. “With this course of action, these children can grow up to reach their full potential, and one day return to their local food bank, not for need, but as donors, volunteers, and civic leaders.”

            “Statewide Poverty Action Network applauds the leadership of Governor Jay Inslee in issuing an Executive Order to establish a Work Group on Poverty Reduction in Washington State. We look forward to working with this newly-established body to forward and implement bold, community-driven solutions that meaningfully reduce poverty while eliminating disparities associated with race, gender, and geography,” said Marcy Bowers, Executive Director of Statewide Poverty Action Network. “Poverty Action also expresses our gratitude for the years of bipartisan work of Senator Hans Zeiger (R-25) and Representative David Sawyer (D-29) in elevating intergenerational poverty reduction and laying the foundation for this Executive Order.”

“We are grateful that the governor and legislature have recognized the impact of intergenerational poverty and are committed to finding complex and tangible solutions within a realistic time period.  Their leadership and dedication to reducing inequities and their consequences in Washington is greatly appreciated,” said Ben de Haan, Director of Partners for Our Children.

            The work group aims to develop a 10-year poverty reduction strategy for recommendation to state agencies, legislative, and executive leadership by September 2018. The group will submit a progress report to the Executive-Legislative WorkFirst Oversight Task Force, the Governor, and the Legislature by December 2019.