Guest blog by Laura Wilson, IBA Vice President-Communications
Next week, Jan. 25-31, is Poverty Awareness Week in Morgan County, Indiana. Established by member organizations of the Morgan County Bridges Out of Poverty initiative, the week is set aside as a public relations campaign to raise awareness of the impact of poverty. Defined as “doing without things we need,” poverty will be the theme of daily messaging throughout Poverty Awareness Week about the struggles of those who lack food, shelter and other necessities. To further heighten awareness, wristbands imprinted with “Poverty Hurts!” are being given to all students of Morgan County schools, courtesy of Home Bank, Martinsville, a member of the Morgan County Bridges Out of Poverty initiative.
Poverty does hurt, indeed. It hurts not only those who are impacted directly, but it can have a devastating ripple effect on entire communities. The issue of abandoned housing serves as a stark example. The reality is that an abandoned home represents harm to the family that once lived there, plus it poses a safety threat to its neighborhood and sharply devalues properties within a wider geographic area. Abandoned housing is more than an outward sign of an inner problem; it worsens an existing level of poverty through a vicious cycle of economic consequences.
In Indiana, abandoned and vacant housing is of deep concern, due to a lengthy foreclosure process that stalls resolution. There is hope, however, through a large coalition of interested parties – varying from consumer advocates to area businesses to the banking community – eager to eliminate unnecessary delays from the tax sales process. In fact a current Senate bill, now awaiting a committee hearing, shows promise in helping to remove some of the impediments to the process. The goal is to more quickly rehabilitate abandoned properties, enabling these homes to return to viable ownership.
The Indiana Bankers Association applauds the efforts of Home Bank and other members of the Morgan County Bridges out of Poverty initiative, as well as the full Indiana banking community for banks’ continual outreach in addressing poverty issues. Poverty Awareness Week in Morgan County is a reminder of the harmful effects of poverty, yet it also brings attention to the benefit that comes when diverse members of the community unite for the common good.