Poverty problems addressed at annual conference in Salt Lake City

- SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – Hundreds of thousands of Utahns live in poverty. They struggle to pay the bills, put food on the table and some have no place to call home.

Driving through parts of Downtown Salt Lake City can be a quick reminder of the poverty problems in our state.

It's not limited to the homeless, it takes on many faces and names.

"A single mom trying to get to the point in her life where she no longer needs to rely on government assistance to feed her kids. It looks like a young family who lost a job and went through a foreclosure and are now living in a homeless shelter," said Afton January with Community Action Partnership of Utah.

The group is hosting its 4th Annual Conference on Poverty.

It brings members of the partnership together with other nonprofits and government agencies for a common cause.

"To try to collaborate with one another, so we can collectively use our strength to eliminate the causes of poverty in Utah," said January.

Governor Gary Herbert believes it begins with a healthy economy, government job services and charitable giving.

His approach is to give people in poverty a hand up, not a hand out.

"Programs were designed to help people, people should be helping people. It's that human touch that we reach out and touch somebody and help them that we need to remember," said Herbert.

There is work to do in Utah.

According to information from the 2012 Census, 12.8% of Utahns live in poverty, 15.1% of Utah children do and the number jumps all the way up to 35% for households with single female parents.

These aren't just numbers we're talking about here.

It’s real people struggling to make ends meet, maybe your neighbor, maybe a friend or maybe you.

“We can address poverty through a more holistic and strategic mechanism by changing public policy and increasing opportunities really from the state level down," said January.

The best way to help is to get involved, donate and volunteer time at the food bank, homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

Also, if you know someone who is struggling reach out and offer support.

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