Albany Residents Give Feedback on City’s Town Hall on Poverty, Contributing Factors

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Nearly 30 percent of Albanians live below the poverty level

By Ashanti Isaac
June 8, 2024

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) – A town hall was held at the Albany Civic Center on Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Ward 1 Commissioner Jon Howard hosted the town hall. The town hall focused on poverty, the contributing factors, and identifying solutions to help move the community forward.

Nearly 30 percent of Albanians live below the poverty level. On Saturday, residents learned the reasons why there is so much poverty in the city. In fact, Albany ranks 158 out of 159 in child poverty. According to officials, education is a major contributor to poverty in Albany.

“Three lowest in child poverty at about 43%, so almost half of Dougherty County’s children live in poverty in this community. Which is a really really sad number, but it’s not like the other counties who are neighboring, it’s a regional issue and it’s a state issue,” Rachael Oliver, regional manager of the Region 10 Georgia Family Connection Partnership, said.

“To think about solutions for how we move forward. We have so many agencies who are working in these areas. Oftentimes we work in silos. So the goal is to come together, so that we can create progressive action in our community,” Shaunae Motley, president and CEO for the United Way of Southwest Georgia, said.

“We had some solutions today, some recommendations, and I hope our community can benefit from this information and move forward,” Bo Dorough, mayor of Albany, said.

Residents are saying that enough is enough with community forums because nothing is done afterward.

“Because nothing comes of it. We do this all the time, with all they people. What are we doing after this, y’all? If y’all talk to Mayor Bo Dorough and tell him that y’all don’t like that he voted down housing development on the South Side, what are we doing?” a resident said.

However, residents did acknowledge the issues and came up with possible solutions, saying resources aren’t the problem in Albany rather it’s a lack of community conversation and action.

“We’re also missing steam, employment opportunities. What happens is we do have a group of really accomplished young people, but what do they do? They leave,” another resident said.

While on the topic of youth, residents say the lack of special education is a big problem in the city. Residents say that minimal wage and low income make it difficult to pay for the treatment of kids with special needs and it takes too long to identify the needs of the children.

“We’re waiting too long, especially for special education. For those children who need special education, they are far identified, way too late,” another resident said.

But, some members of the community say that the family structure is what is holding the community back from growing.

Finally, one issue that was addressed is the need for proper rehabilitation and reentry into society for those who are formally incarcerated.

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