Group says Springfield poverty trend will grow without action

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - About one out of every four people in Springfield lives in poverty. The National Resource Network, a group that aims to help cities with poverty rates higher than 20 percent, says the trend will only continue if something isn't done.

Researchers from the National Resource Network presented a report about the city to the Springfield City Council at its lunch meeting on Tuesday.

The network found one problem in Springfield is a big shortage of affordable housing. The group plans to hold a workshop with community leaders to develop a targeted approach to fixing that housing supply gap.

Researchers also say too many jobs in the community pay less than a livable wage. They'll be working with the Missouri Career Center to encourage further education and training for workers in the same industry.

A lack of reliable transportation was brought up over and over during the group's seven-month look at Springfield.

They say one of the community's weaknesses is shifting from conversation to action.

"In Springfield, we have a lot of action, a lot of collaboratives, a lot of initiatives, but there's not a system in place to really understand what the results of these activities are, as well as they may be misaligned," said Erika Ruiz, a member of the National Resource Network.

"A lot of times, things have fallen on deaf ears, so it's like people are now, in every quadrant of the city, saying, 'Oh my gosh, they're not just jerking our chain about nothing.' This is the reality of how people live in Zone 1, and now it's moving into Zone 3 and it's in Zone 2. We've got to do something," said Springfield City Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson, who represents northwest Springfield's Zone 1.

Members of the National Resource Network will hold workshops with community leaders to develop strategies for tackling the issues, and they will come back to review progress.