As an innovation expert I can tell you simply increasing experimentation on poverty programs is not responsible. All the low hanging fruit is gone. The thousands of folks in Asheville actually experiencing poverty or hovering near poverty need responsible leaders at all levels of government.
For example, the idea of some in local leadership that simply moving those is poverty out of concentrated poverty sites to ’somewhere better’ is not a proven theory in and of itself. My approach to strategy controls risk and hammers our rework. Its time to target and nail down what works on poverty and a range of other issues… ASAP.
Folks feel better and their health outcomes improve in some areas like mental health after leaving noisy, possibly violent and unhygienic housing for better digs. That’s great. But building anything like a middle class career after time in poverty is enormous. Economic self-sufficiency is a central post-poverty goal.
During that transition period that may or may not result in the new career goals the lack of income has to be subsidized. That won’t come from Asheville’s economy. It will come from new national tax and budget priorities. As many US municipalities as possible—urban and rural—need to agree to this and push congress hard next year to get serious about rolling out the Next New Deal.
Most of our challenges are shared challenges across the state and nation. So true open innovation practices are needed. This business of change won’t just happen with magical thinking. It’s not about maintaining territories and comfort zones without cause but real performance.
Combined with legitimate (not subjective guesswork) innovation and strategy tools, I promote an evidence-based approach to policy in general… and specifically how public funds flow to nonprofits and local initiatives and what works thereafter. These principles will apply to those leaders claiming they are doing something about poverty and low-income issues like affordable housing and food access.
Folks deserve a powerful anti-poverty strategy for Asheville the sets the bar higher for the state and nation. It’s not just about small bets resourced only at the local level.