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Elected Officials Hear Concerns from Low-Income Residents

A grassroots group in the Hudson Valley organized a Town Hall Meeting in Poughkeepsie Tuesday evening, to give low-income residents the chance to hear from three elected officials who represent them. The elected officials vowed a lot of support and help, and many in attendance say they are hopeful.

Community Voices Heard hosted the forum at the Family Partnership Center in Poughkeepsie, where a number of services are provided to help families and individuals in need. The three elected officials there to answer questions were Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney; State Senator Terry Gipson; and State Assemblyman Frank Skartados, all Democrats. Asked whether he’d ever had a trio of politicians together like this, hearing his concerns, Tree Arrington replied:

Arrington is the founder and executive director of R.E.A.L. Skills Network in Poughkeepsie, which provides programs for school kids at risk. R.E.A.L. stands for Relationship, Empowerment, Affirmation, and Leadership. He asked the elected officials for promises on delivering more services for the community’s youth, saying there were only three programs available, and none for elementary–school kids. Arrington noted the YMCA is no longer in Poughkeepsie, and wants it restored. In part, Congressman Maloney answered:

And Maloney said he was committed to try to help get the Y re-opened. Arrington pressed.

State Senator Terry Gipson said his staff was working on both restoring the YMCA, and bringing funds to the Family Partnership Center. In addition,

The Dream Act recently made it out of an Assembly committee, and Assembly backers say that means the bill could make it to the Assembly floor.

As to whether the officials answered Arrington’s questions, Arrington said yes and no.

Yusef Belford is the leader and organizer of Community Voices Heard in Newburgh. He voiced his concern about the hundreds of abandoned buildings in Newburgh and the need for affordable housing. All three elected officials said they have this issue on their radars, not only for Newburgh, but for Poughkeepsie as well. In fact, Congressman Maloney has his district office in Newburgh.

Belford says he has another concern he wants to raise with officials.

Some in the audience said they appreciated the honesty of the officials when it came to not promising everything. Again, here’s Maloney.

Brian Doyle is the CEO of Family Services, which owns the Family Partnership Center. He points to a recent survey of the Center’s service providers, which shows that 79 percent of people who walk through the center’s doors live below the poverty line.

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