What people living in poverty truly need most is real political power.
This means, as well as begins with, being allowed to speak for and represent themselves as well as have ample opportunities afforded in order to meaningfully participate in any policy making and other decisions made about them at various levels, whether political or otherwise, and, either as individuals or as a group.
What people living in poverty do not need any more of is having others speak and making decisions for them, most especially not those who have their own or an organization's agenda and interests at stake.
Regrettably, Governor Peter Shumlin's newly established "Pathways Out of Poverty" initiative falls seriously short of what is in fact required and, additionally, has all the appearances of merely being a new version of the same old thing and not much else.
This is yet another well-meaning initiative and council that, as usual, has more to do with funding programs as well as aiding certain political agendas and interests than it has to do with helping people most in need.
Rather than being "pathways out of poverty" as is purported, this will likely only lead to additional dead ends and could be just another setup for failure, ironically, of which the person living in poverty will typically be found to blame.
Unless and until people living in poverty have a real and meaningful say about any and all policy as well as programs intended to help them out of poverty, nothing will ever truly change, no matter how much funding is found and dedicated to the effort.
Only real political power in the hands of people living in poverty will ever make a difference and create lasting change.
Anything else is a poor substitute. Nothing else should be acceptable. Those in power and authority should know better. As those of my peers within the disability community are fond of saying: Nothing about us, without us.
Morgan W. Brown is a newly appointed member of the Vermont Council on Homelessness, however the opinions expressed above are solely his own. Brown lives in Montpelier.