The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI) recently put out their 2023 priorities list including actions they say are aimed at addressing the root causes of poverty and promoting upward mobility for all individuals and families in the greater Rochester community.
The policy priorities for 2023 include:
• Raise Income through higher wages and equitable job access
• Invest in Families to create economic security across generations and strengthen the systems that support them
• Decriminalize Poverty by changing the criminal legal system and focusing on reinvestment in communities
• Reform Housing by making housing more affordable and accessible through policy and practice changes at all levels of the housing system
Within these four areas, RMAPI says they will support public policy and funding changes that:
• have the support of community members with lived/living experience of poverty
• have the most potential to rectify racial inequities in wealth and income
• increase upward mobility long term, not just temporarily reduce poverty
• reduce poverty inter-generationally, not just within a single-generation
• disrupt inequitable and oppressive systems underlying poverty in our community
• present actionable opportunities for RMAPI to lead and/or support our partners
• are created equitably and inclusively
The organization—launched in 2015 in response to the high poverty rates in the city of Rochester—says these policy priorities were developed by a Policy Working Group after extensive meetings and consultation with local experts, community and government leaders, representatives from non-profit agencies and community members with lived and living experiences of poverty to determine which actions would be the most effective and the most needed to address poverty.
“In order to break the cycle of poverty that has pervaded in our community for decades, we must take bold actions that shift power and enable upward mobility for everyone,” said Aqua Y. Porter, RMAPI executive director.
RMAPI says they are committed to identifying and advocating policy changes that holistically increase the income of people in poverty. They plan to continue to advocate for local and state wage policies and to get a increase in the state-mandated minimum wage for Rochester, indexing it to inflation moving forward.
They also plan to work with employers to make employment opportunities more equitable, by changing employer practices to remove barriers to employment that disproportionately impact those living in poverty, such as drug testing, background checks, and credit checks.
Last year the organization was credited for advocating for more livable wages and for getting a number of local employers to commit to paying a $15 per hour minimum wage.
Area leaders are already pledging support of the RMAPI 2023 agenda.
“Monroe County is proud to partner with RMAPI to make our county more prosperous and equitable. We have made significant investments in workforce development programs that uplift underserved and marginalized communities and awarded $98 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars to local organizations that will invest in our families and provide equitable access to food, healthcare and job training and placement,” noted Monroe County Executive Adam Bello.
Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans said the RMAPI 2023 agenda “lays out a framework for change that is bold in ambition yet constructive in scope to confront the single greatest challenge of our entire region.”
“Rochester’s unacceptable poverty rates are the direct result of past policies created in an environment steeped in segregation and racism. The RMAPI Policy Agenda provides deliberate objectives to address and reverse those policies.”