Local, State Officials Plan Town Hall Meeting to Address Poverty in Albany

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Alan Mauldin, The Albany Herald, Ga.
Fri, May 31, 2024

ALBANY – With a poverty rate of 29.6%, Albanians are struggling at more than double the rate of the state as a whole and nearly three times that of the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

As expected, that means lagging income and homeownership rates, higher rates of individuals who do not have medical insurance and less who have high school diplomas and college degrees.

A diverse group of local and state leaders is looking to address poverty in the city, and will gather for a June 8 town hall meeting being convened by Ward I Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard.

The town hall meeting will start at 10 a.m. at the Albany Civic Center and is expected to last about three hours.

Among the organizations scheduled to participate are Georgia City Solutions, Georgia Family Connection Partnership, the Family Literacy Connection and United Way of Southwest Georgia.

“It’s pretty well addressing poverty,” said Rachel Oliver, the Region 10 manager for the Georgia Family Connection Partnership, which covers 14 southwest Georgia counties. “Basically, we’re going to share some data. I’m going to share some local data that is related to poverty. The data in Albany does not look good.”

Other presenters also will share data related to poverty as well as offer a look at contributing factors to poverty and existing services that residents can access in the city and Dougherty County. After those presentations the audience will be invited to weigh in.

“We’re going to do what we call a community cafe,” Oliver said. “That’s where we get the participants to help provide solutions for people in Albany.

According to U.S. Census findings, in 2022 29.6% of Albany residents were in poverty, with a median income of $43,724 and per-capita income of $23,824, compared to a poverty rate of 12.7% for the state, a median income of $71,355 and per-capita income of $37,836.

In the category of owner-occupied housing, Albany stood at $40%, with the state average at 65%.

“The data in Albany doesn’t look good,” Oliver said.

Howard, who initiated the town hall after seeing a presentation by Georgia City Solutions, will close out the program by outlining future steps.

The commissioner also has invited representatives from the city, Dougherty County and the Dougherty County School Board, and on Thursday he said that response has been “great” from those other community leaders.

“I think this is a great community conversation starter,” Oliver said. “We’re hoping they will not just let it sit, and there will be some next steps to move it forward.”

Read the story on albanyherald.com.