Interfaith Vigil At The Statehouse Calls For Lawmakers To Address RI Poverty

Jan 9, 2014

A coalition of Rhode Island religious leaders is calling on lawmakers to put poverty at the top of their agenda this year.  The plea was issued at a Statehouse rally Wednesday.

Governor Lincoln Chafee at the interfaith vigil on poverty at the Statehouse.
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

The haunting sound of an ancient Jewish instrument summoned the faithful to the Statehouse rotunda for a rally marking the 50th anniversary of the late President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.  With Governor Lincoln Chafee and other top state officials in attendance, religious leaders under the auspices of the Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition called on lawmakers to take the issue of poverty more seriously.  Maxine Richman, co-chair of the coalition, described the scope of poverty in the state.

"How can it be that 50 years later here in Rhode Island 31.7% of our residents, 19.5% of our children and 9.2% of our seniors live in poverty," said Richman.

The governor, speaker of the house and senate president all pledged to do more for the poor. But the presence of a roughly $140-million deficit raises questions about the state’s ability to raise funding for social programs.

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