What Colorado Plans to Do About Rising Poverty Rates

July 28 2009, 11:57 AM

kefalas-johnRichard Allen Johnson was a homeless guy who drank, spending his time on a ledge outside a vacant building on the east side of the 16th Street Mall, mostly minding his own business. Then, "he just slumped over," and people kept walking by. He wasn't sleeping. He was dead (via The Denver Post). Johnson's is another tragic tale of poverty in Colorado, which is on the rise. Families who never thought they would need public assistance are turning to Medicaid, the government's health insurance for the poor, in droves, according to the Post. A Colorado task force is now looking to respond, hoping to cut the poverty rate in half by 2019, reports The Associated Press. "We've given ourselves a year, to December of 2010, to put together a plan of action," says state Representative John Kefalas (pictured), a Fort Collins Democrat and chairman of the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force Committee. The 10-member committee will attempt to identify the root causes of poverty around the state and already has loads of information. It knows, for example, that more than half of impoverished children statewide live in extreme poverty: families of four earning less than $10,500 a year.