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The “inconvenience of poverty”…

Posted: August 28, 2014

There is no convenient time or place to be poor. It doesn’t show up on a schedule. Economic circumstances can change without warning. Divorce, death or illness of a spouse can change a previously financially secure family into one that is scrambling to make ends meet.

The odds are stacked against children who grow up in poverty. “Precarious” can quickly change to desperate as families unravel due to economic hardship. Food pantries which were at one time considered a, “stop-gap” measure have become a permanent fixture in our society. And, it has become an accepted way of dealing with people who live in poverty.

But, what if we had a chance to do it differently? What if faced with a young adult who has been living, “precariously”, we could offer a real solution that provides the tools, support and stability to really make a difference? If you had this chance, would you take it?

The truth is that we are faced with this chance… a game changer for a few, the lucky, 39. But, we have a monumental task that stands before us. Can we convince our City Council and Mayor that our community has the political will and courage to break with years of saying, “No” and embrace the 66 West project?

The conversation goes like this… “It’s a great idea, but not here.” “It’s a great idea, but not now.” “It’s a great model, housing with supportive services, but we aren’t sure about the clientele.” “They are not like us…”
The truth is that the poor are like us, they have aspirations, hopes and dreams. They are beloved of the same God. Their opportunities and circumstances may be different. Unlike us, they may be fleeing from violence, abuse and trauma. But, like us, they are strong, resilient and determined to make a better life.

This is the invitation… to stand in truth and witness. To speak on behalf of young adults that need a chance to build a better life with work and education in a supportive environment. If we debate the merits of, “best and highest use”, strategic plans, and city goals, is housing young adults not one of the best uses of a small, parcel of land? 

This is the decision that will be on the agenda on Tuesday, September 2 at 7:00 p.m. at Edina City Hall. Our City Council members will be asked to listen to the merits of the 66 West project, separate the “facts” from the fiction around this issue and make a decision. If not now, when? And, maybe the greater question is if you were faced with the, “inconvenience of poverty”… Who would be your champion? 

--Maura