Southern Arizona groups seek more help for needy families

Southern Arizona groups seek more help for needy families

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - New numbers show Tucson's poverty rate is above the national average.

According to Making Action Possible for Southern Arizona, the poverty rate was 19.3 percent in 2015.

It ranked Tucson 11th among 12 western MSAs, among which the Denver and Colorado MSAs placed first with the lowest poverty rate (11.6 percent) and the El Paso MSA placed last with the highest (22.8 percent).

Research from the University of Arizona shows more than one in five Tucson families is living in poverty.

That's about three points higher than the national average.

But leaders with the YWCA of Southern Arizona and the Community Food Bank say they need more support to keep the growing number of needy families fed and living comfortably.

"We are tired of what feels like a war on the poor when what we ought to be fighting is poverty," said Kelly Fryer, CEO YWCA of Southern Arizona.

Lou Medran of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona agreed.

"It's always the most vulnerable that seem to be the target like the seniors, children, the working poor. … That's really unfair to those folks to be the target all the time," Medran said.

The two local nonprofits have teamed up and are calling on Arizona lawmakers like Gov. Doug Ducey to help out more with childcare and to give more funding to community colleges, food stamp and jobs programs to help the working poor get ahead.

"We are looking for leadership from the Arizona State Legislators and the Governor's Office to create policies that really help working moms and their families get on that path out of poverty rather than cutting programs that do exactly that," Fryer said. "We have to stop punishing people in poverty by passing laws and policies that make like more difficult for them and instead equip them with the tools they need to get jobs and start businesses and get them out of poverty,"

"We feel that there is still a gap out there of folks who need our help and we feel if we keep cutting it makes it more difficult to get to those people who you know need help."

Tucson News Now reached out to Ducey to see what his plans are to help the needy in 2017, but have not yet gotten a comment.

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