May 1, 2009

Birthday Bash Roundup: Information & Education

Weekly Volunteer Jim Frank helps in the NW Food Pantry.*

Our birthday bash continues! I plan to celebrate this momentous day with an extra cup of coffee and a trip to Busboys & Poets to support Book Fruits, an organization that teaches creative writing to children in DCPS. Tonight, authors 8-16 years of age will be reading their work.

Looking back through the year, our archives are littered with in-depth analysis on poverty issues. One of the goals of this blog is to give our readers an insight into why, exactly, issues like TANF, housing, and mental health are so important to us. This means presenting the issues to our readers in an accessible way without diluting the arguments. Though the information below is nowhere close to exhaustive, it does give an impression of the myriad factors that can contribute to perpetual poverty.

Of all of our topics, there is no more complex and misunderstood one than housing. Whether merely defining terms, discussing the Section 8 wait list and the New Communities Initiative, getting the opinions of experts like Jim Knight of Jubilee Housing or BFC's own Margie Sollinger, or (most recently) covering Legal Clinic Director Vytas V. Vergeer's work with the tenants of Marbury Plaza, Beyond Bread covered a lot of material.  And yet we're nowhere near documenting everything there is to know about affordable housing in DC. 

Recently, staff member Valentine Breitbarth (graduating this month with a Master of Public Health) started our coverage of what will continue to be a big story in the upcoming year--the shift in role for the DC Department of Mental Health. Though the transition has been discussed for some time, DMH began the implementation of a plan to switch from providing direct mental health services to an indirect oversight role. Bread for the City's Representative Payee Program will be directly impacted by the DMH shift, so we will have no choice but to monitor the situation closely. 

One of our longest-standing partners is So Other's Might Eat, and one of their Advocacy Associates, Joni Podschun, has been contributing to this blog almost from the beginning. Lately she's been combing through DC's TANF legislation--digging into the nuances of its implementation, comparing our TANF program to those of other states, and exploring the ways TANF helps people.

Bread for the City also advocated vociforously for the expansion of food stamps, the passage of the so-called "Bag Bill" that will help clean the Anacostia River of harmful contaminants, and a more open budget process.  Whew! Expect more information in all of these areas in year two.

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