H.B. 326, “Intergenerational Poverty Initiative” is a bill sponsored by Rep. Redd (R-Logan) that would establish a pilot program through the Department of Workforce Services to address Utah’s intergenerational poverty problem.
“Intergenerational poverty” occurs when two or more consecutive generations of families live at or below the federal poverty level of income. H.B. 326 appropriates a one-time, $1,000,000 lump sum to help individual counties fund local solutions to their own poverty issues. The appropriation creates the “Intergenerational Poverty Plan Implementation Pilot Program” that, if the legislature chooses, can be funded into the future as long as it creates measurable impacts throughout the state.
A county can submit a request to the Department of Workforce Services that outlines their interest in participating in the program as well as a detailed plan on how they want to address their problems individually. Each county plan must meet a detailed threshold of impact based on 8 criteria established in the bill that includes but is not limited to evidence of significant improvement in strong engagement and leadership, public health (money spent, total emergency room visits, etc.) and economic development/improvement. After the department reviews their request, they will assess the potential that individual county has to actually reach their goals and estimate the needed money to implement the county’s plan. If the plan is approved, the program will be funded and the county will be required to match at least 25% of the Pilot Program’s initial grant.
In 2016, 59,579 children throughout Utah were the victims of intergenerational poverty. While this bill is just a start, it is a much needed start in our state’s fight to allow each of their citizens a shot at a happy, long, and prosperous life.