1. Reduce and work towards the eradication of homelessness in Birmingham.
There are 1500 homeless on the street on any given night in Birmingham. This means that 1500 of our neighbors are having to scramble for their barest necessities while keeping themselves safe on the streets. 1500 of OUR FELLOW Birminghamians! When we consider those who have made it into the shelter for the night, that number doubles. This issue affects us all! Rising poverty and stagnating job growth is pushing more and more of our residents to homelessness and dislocation; it happens quickly and without discrimination. The vast majority of homeless persons are experiencing physical or mental health problems. This overwhelms both our emergency rooms and police force. Many are working but still unable to secure housing. Many are children between the ages of 17-22 and only 2% report a college degree. These problems are not isolated, by improving educational and job prospects, by revitalizing our surrounding areas, by increasing our mental health services, we will not only bring the homeless population down but we will create a better Birmingham and grow into a thriving metropolis!
2. Work with the mayor’s office to allocate funds and promote entrepreneurship and start-ups by providing opportunities for growth of the booming business community.
Birmingham has a rich history of leading the South in job growth but in recent times, we have declined and stagnated. Job growth increased by only .24% in 2000 and the line has not moved much since then while population estimation are only 1.4% by 2040. Our city is fragmenting and our residents are relocating to the suburbs for better job prospects. We need to revitalize job growth and innovation in Birmingham by putting emphasis and funding towards groups that are already doing this such as Innovation Depot and Techbirmingham. We need to encourage our burgeoning start up community. We need to provide accessibility and training opportunities to our residents so they can get to work. We need to get our municipality and suburbs to work together to create growth for the ENTIRE Birmingham area and not just the suburbs. We need to do all of this so that we become a desirable business hub to bring more job creators within the city limits so that we can ALL feel the magic. We can do this together!
3. Reduce poverty in Birmingham by empowering and equipping neighborhood associations with the necessary tools needed to get the community back to work.
Birmingham has a declining population and declining job growth. About 29% of our population lives in poverty. Only around 25% of our residents have a bachelor’s degree leading me to believe that our residents are under-equipped for the changing job market. I propose compiling databases of all job services available and making these readily accessible to residents through neighborhood associations with special attention to providing assistance for job training, trade education and traditional college education. We have a rich history of starting industries, putting our people to work and breaking down barriers in the workplace, I believe that we can get back to that place and get all Birminghamians back to work so we can ALL feel the magic of the magic city.
4. Work closely with the mayor’s office to ensure allocation of funds to organizations that are able to provide mental health services to those in need.
5. Establish partnerships between schools and mentorship programs to provide students with a solid foundation for success.
While our high school graduation rate (85%) is similar to the national rate, (87%)only roughly 15-20% of our graduates are earning a degree in college. Additionally, only 24% even enroll. This suggests to me that our students are not being given the foundations for success that they need in our schools. Students drop out and give up in school when they don’t have the extra adult support that they need to push them. Mentorship programs provide that support through community professionals that students can relate to who are interested in their lives and invested in their future. Students need continuing academic support to succeed in college courses, they need exposure to community professionals and strong networks that can provide avenues to both college and trade schools, they need time and perspective to figure out what they want to do. Parents and teachers are giving all they have but sometimes it takes just a little bit more, it takes a village, y’all!