Poverty is not inevitable, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and a nation should be assessed by how it helps citizens with the greatest needs.

These were focal points in a report from the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships released last week.

Ending poverty requires coordinated and sustained efforts between government, faith-based groups and community organizations, the report asserted.

These initiatives also must involve and empower persons facing poverty and inequality.

Four guiding principles informed the council’s analysis:

  1. Poverty and extreme inequality are social ills with deep spiritual and communal implications.
  2. Focusing solely on charity and service provision is inadequate. Poverty and inequality must be understood as structural problems.
  3. Because these social ills of poverty and inequality are so complex, government resources are critical.
  4. Addressing economic poverty and inequality will require interventions that unlock the inner assets and social capital of individuals and communities who suffer under the weight of poverty.

“Solving the growing range of complex and interwoven problems related to poverty and inequality requires more than an investment of financial resources,” the report emphasized. “Individuals and families in poverty suffer from material deprivation, but also from disproportionate rates of stress, emotional harm and trauma, fractured relationships, and diminished social ties and networks.”

A series of recommendations were set forth aimed at addressing three primary goals: increasing economic opportunity; addressing race, justice and poverty; and strengthening government approaches and programs for addressing poverty and inequality.

These goals included the following steps toward realization: improving awareness of programs and resources addressing poverty and inequality; promoting reconciliation and restoration; and recognizing and addressing not only the financial-economic impacts of poverty and inequality but also the social-emotional consequences.

“Faith and community leaders hold up for all a vision for the common good measured by what our nation does for those most in need,” the council said. “We are, after all, our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.”

The full report is available here.

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